Dec. 17, 2005
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The Wildcats (4-4) head to the Big Apple this weekend and will take on their second Big East opponent of the season when they visit the Seton Hall Pirates (6-2) at 11 a.m. CT Sunday, Dec. 18 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.
Northwestern is looking to snare a big road victory after a 71-62 home loss to UIC Wednesday night. Vedran Vukusic had 23 points and Mohamed Hachad added 12, but the Wildcats surrendered 45 second half points to the Flames after NU had come back to tie it late in the game.
Seton Hall is in the midst of a three-game win streak and have won five of their last six.
The Series With The Pirates
Northwestern leads in the all-time series, 3-2, winning three of the last four, including last year's 53-44 win in Evanston.
A Look at the 'Cats
Senior Vedran Vukusic has been lighting it up offensively for the Wildcats this season. The senior from Croatia leads the Big Ten and ranks eighth nationally in scoring with 23.5 points per game. Vukusic has accounted for over 40 percent of Northwestern's offense this season and has scored 20 or more points in seven of eight games, including a season-high 28 in the win over Charlotte at the BCA Invitational. On the season, Vukusic is shooting 57 percent from the field, 78 percent from the line and leads the conference with an average of 38.5 minutes per game.
No Wildcat has done a better job at finding the open man this season than junior Tim Doyle. The Merrick, N.Y. native is averaging a team-best 5.2 assists, currently ranking him fifth in the Big Ten, to go along with 10 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Doyle had a career-best seven assists against UIC Wednesday and is shooting 80 percent (20-of-25) from the free throw line on the year (ninth in the Big Ten).
True freshman Craig Moore has found his groove offensively and has become a regular in the starting lineup. He has emerged of late to score 31 points over the last five games. He had nine points in 23 minutes in the win over FAU and sank three treys in the loss to DePaul, playing 33 minutes and all 20 in the second half. More importantly, he has impressed many with his ball-handling and decision making with 17 assists and just three turnovers in the last five games.
Senior Mohamed Hachad appears to have broken out of a scoring slump with 29 points in his last two games after recording just 14 in the previous three. He has cleaned up on the glass, averaging a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game, including nine in the win over Charlotte, tying his personal best. He is averaging 8.9 points per game and leads the team with 13 steals. Hachad broke out in a big way in the win over Delaware State, scoring a season-high 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and added 12, all in the second half, against UIC Wednesday night.
Junior Vince Scott has given NU a nice lift off the bench and has produced in the starting lineup as well with 5.0 points and 4.1 caroms per game.
A NU Win Sunday Would ... Give the Wildcats their first road victory of the season and their first since the win at Minnesota last year (2/9/05).
Give the Wildcats their second straight win over Seton Hall and their fourth in the last five meetings.
Give the Wildcats their first road win over a then-Big East opponent since Dec. 3, 1988 when NU won at Rutgers 75-69. (NU won at DePaul 12/7/96 when DePaul was a member of C-USA).
Just like last year, Vedran Vukusic will celebrate his birthday this Sunday against the Pirates and would love nothing more than to help the 'Cats steal a win on the road against a Big East opponent. Last year on his birthday, Vukusic scored 14 points in helping the 'Cats defeat the Pirates 53-44 in Evanston. Vukusic turns 23 this year.
Making A Little History
Vedran Vukusic has led the Wildcats in scoring through the first eight games of this season. The last person to lead the Wildcats in scoring through the first eight games of the season was Billy McKinney during the 1976-77 season.
About The Pirates
Seton Hall (6-2) is off to a quick start and has won three straight heading into Sunday's showdown with the 'Cats. The Pirates have defeated Manhattan, Marist, St. Peter's, Farleigh Dickinson, Monmouth and Tulane--all at home. Their two losses were at Duke and Richmond.
Last season Seton Hall finished 12-16 overall and 4-12 in the Big East. This year, the scoring duo of Donald Copeland and Kelly Whitney have carried the load offensively, averaging 15.0 and 12.5 ppg, respectively. The Pirates are averaging 63.1 ppg and 40.0 rebounds.
Pirates Head Coach Louis Orr
Louis Orr, in his fifth season at Seton Hall, is 68-59 at SHU and 88-70 overall as a head coach. In his second season in 2002-03, Orr led the Pirates to the NIT before taking them to the NCAA Tournament the following season, finishing 21-10 overall with a 10-6 mark in the Big East.
Movin' On Up
With 19 points against Delaware State Dec. 3, Vukusic moved up another spot on Northwestern's all-time scoring list. He is currently 12th with 1,236 points. At his current scoring rate of 23.5 per game, Vukusic is on pace to finish third among the all-time Northwestern scoring leaders.
Starters By Committee
Head coach Bill Carmody has used five different starting lineup combinations through the first eight games of the season. Vedran Vukusic and Tim Doyle are the only Wildcats to start every game.
The Wildcats will play host to DePauw at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23 in Evanston.