Tag Archives: Jeremy Evans

Halftime: WKU 37, Illinois 29

So as you’ve probably seen, WKU is on fire in all aspects of the offense (except maybe free throw shooting). That 17-4 run in a 5:19 span in the middle of the half gave them the cushion they needed. But remember that this is Illinois, and as they showed in spurts in the first half, if they can successfully slow the pace to a grinding hault, they can lull WKU into submission. There’s still a long way to go, but the Toppers are at full bore and making all the pundits look very smart for picking them to win this one.

Despite all the talk about Illinois’ size, WKU is outrebounding the Fighting Illini 23-15, though that can be credited mostly to Illinois’ 1-for-9 shooting from three point range. Their deep clangers have forced long rebounds that the WKU guards have retrieved while Illinois’ big men are below the basket. Orlando Mendez-Valdez has five rebounds of his own, and Kerusch has eight.

WKU shot 45.5 percent (15-for-33) in the half, including 5-for-12 (41.7 percent) form three. Illinois shot 38.7 percent (12-for-31).

Jeremy Evans’ block on Demetri McCamey really set the tone for the first half. The block had the look of the one Evans had on Louisville’s Samardo Samuels this season.

Steffphon Pettigrew had seven points in the first eight minutes of the half, reminiscent of his performance in the Sun Belt Conference tournament against South Alabama in the finals, when he had nine early points to help set the pace for WKU. He’s tied for the lead among scorers in this game with seven.

The second half is moments away. Stay tuned postgame for thoughts and reaction, and be sure to go to WKUHerald.com for the postgame coverage.


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My First Impressions of Illinois vs. WKU, plus announcer-ology

First off, thanks to WKU alum Kevin Hulsman for the quick angle that Bruce Weber served as an assistant under Gene Keady while Keady was at Western.

I’ve never watched the selection show with a large group of people before, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Folks were quiet, listening to Greg Gumbel unveil the brackets, and the anticipation continued to build until the last bracket was finally unveiled.

My first glance at the assistant coaches and coach Ken McDonald saw that there was quite a bit of confidence in their reaction. Assistant David Boyden gave a nice fist pump, and there were plenty of smiles around. Illinois does come out of the Big Ten, but has flown under the national radar most of the season, finishing 10-6 in the Big Ten and 24-9 overall.

From the sounds of it, Chester Frazier has a hand injury right now, and it will be interesting to follow his status throughout the week. Illinois does have some height, but not much weight in their front court. They come after you with 7’1″, 235-pound center Mike Tisdale and 6’9″, 210-pound Mike Davis. Seems like an even match-up for the likes of Steffphon Pettigrew and Jeremy Evans for Western.

Throughout the week we’ll take a closer look at personnel. Remember, this is first impressions.

Many on the national scene are already picking Western in this game. I can’t imagine Illinois is happy with the matchup. Unfortunately, I missed a conference call with Illinois coach Bruce Weber tonight. I was inquiring with Western SID Brad Fields about one happening tomorrow, and he said that Weber had one on short notice tonight.

I won’t hold it against Weber and the Illinois media relations folks, though.

We’re still awaiting word on a game time for Thursday. However, when we do find out, we’ll let you know here. I can’t think it will be any earlier than 1:30 CST, since the game is on the West Coast.

Now, we all now CBS is a finicky thing. However, because I enjoy this kind of stuff, I’m going to predict where the CBS broadcast teams will be placed. When we find out who is really calling the game, we’ll also have that here.

DAYTON: Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg (Dayton has two #1 seeds, so that’s easy)

PHILLY: Dick Enberg/Jay Bilas (This crew could be swapped with Johnson/Elmore, but I’ll keep em here)

MIAMI: Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery (Two older gentlemen need warm weather this time of year)

GREENSBORO: Gus Johnson/Len Elmore (Get ready for some RISE AND FIRE from North Carolina)

KANSAS CITY: Kevin Harlan/Dan Bonner (KC is home for Harlan, so c’mon, CBS. Save a penny or two)

MINNEAPOLIS: Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel (These last three are anyone’s guess, but I’ll go with this anyway)

BOISE: Craig Bolerjack/Bob Wenzel (Who are these two?)

PORTLAND: Tim Brando/Mike Giminski (Again!)

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Foul trouble

Just a note: Evans and Slaughter are both in foul trouble. Slaughter has three and Evans has four. This will have an effect on how aggressive they can be late in the game — definitely something to watch.

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Second half, 7:03 to go: WKU 51, USA 46

Slaughter hits a three out of the timeout, giving WKU back the lead at 44-43. That score saved a dumb drive by Sally through a double team, in which he almost turned it over but manged to get it to Slaughter. An Evans rebound off a USA miss gave the Toppers an opportunity to get a little breathing room, but Slaughter missed a jumper. Kerusch hits a jumper at the foul line for a 46-43 lead following two missed FTs by USA’s Douglas. Sally hits a three to stretch it out to 51-46, Western’s biggest lead since the half.

Free throws could be big down the stretch. USA shoots 66 percent on the season from the line, WKU 69 percent. In the last two minutes, both teams have shot FTs: WKU was 2-2 (OMV), while USA went 1-3 (Coleman, Douglas).

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Postgame notes

So WKU survived, earning another birth in the SBC tournament finals. It was a close game like expected, but the Slaughter’s leadership and Kerusch’s play highlighted the win. Here are a few things that didn’t make press:

  • North Texas was deceptively aggressive, despite poor shooting percentages. They shot 37.9 percent for the game (25-for-66) and 31.3 percent from the three-point line (10-for-32). They never trailed by more than four points until the final four minutes of the game, with the game featuring four lead changes and five ties.
  • Jeremy Evans had a quiet but effective game. He was the other Topper in double figures, with 12 points and six rebounds. He started the game off like he did against Florida International, with dunks (though just two this time) in the first three scores.
  • In the second half, WKU outscored the Mean Green 42-32, shooting 52.2 percent (12-for-23). They shot 48.8 percent for the game (24-for-50).
  • Sergio Kerusch’s 23 points and 10 rebounds made his fourth double-double in the last six games.
  • After averaging an NCAA-high 28.2 free-throw attempts per game, North Texas only shot 12 in the game, making 10.

That’s all for now. Check back here and at WKUHerald.com tonight and tomorrow for more coverage and for a preview of the final, where WKU will play UALR/South Alabama.

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Second half, 15:33 to go: WKU 41, UNT 42

UNT got the lead to five, but WKU clawed back thanks to a driving layup by Kerusch and a great post feed by Slaughter to Evans (10 pts) for a hook shot. But WKU continues to struggle from three, now 1-12. UNT has gone somewhat cold, getting three offensive rebounds on one possession and coming away from it on 0-3 shooting. Pettigrew got his third foul at the 17-minute mark, and now coach McDonald may have to use Maresca or more of Magley, who has shown some much-needed fight in this tournament so far.

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First half, 7:58 to go: WKU 26, UNT 23

Evans’ poster dunk on Tramiel was the highlight of those minutes. He went up strong on him and got the bucket, no foul. Bodies are flying everywhere for loose balls, and it sounds like a stampede on the hardwood. Kerusch is holding his own, hitting midrange jumpers and driving layups for WKU, leading with eight points and four rebounds.

I’m hearing one of the worst cheers from the UNT students. Anytime a WKU player makes a mistake (misses a free throw, commits a foul, etc.) they chant “that was bad”. 0 for originality and creativity.

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