Huge Second Half Turnaround Sends Panthers To Victory At UIC
Jan. 16, 2014
CHICAGO - Jordan Aaron scored 18 points and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to claim a 67-63 win over UIC Thursday night at the UIC Pavilion.
After struggling through the first 20 minutes, Milwaukee claimed the lead back within the first eight minutes of the second half and then hung tight down the stretch.
The Panthers (13-6, 3-2 Horizon) received a wide variety of contributions in their comeback effort. Matt Tiby had 13 ponts while Steve McWhorter had 10 points and eight assists. Off the bench, freshman Cody Wichmann had 11 points and Malcolm Moore added eight points and nine rebounds.
Milwaukee turned the game with a determined effort in the second 20 minutes. The Panthers held UIC to just 27 percent shooting in the second half while UWM consistently pounded it inside, resulting in 54.5 percent shooting and 19 free throw attempts.
It's the fifth time this season the Panthers have overcome a double-digit deficit to claim a win.
Marc Brown had 18 points to lead UIC (5-13, 0-4).
"We made a point to really touch the post, regardless of whether those guys were really jamming or doubling," Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said of the second-half turnaround. "We needed post touches to try to soften things up. I thought we were better about that in the second half. We were obviously more aggressive."
Aaron said the players took it upon themselves to get the game turned around.
"We were very lackadaisical the way we came out and we can't start games like that. We have to play with energy and effort for 40 minutes," Aaron said. "But I think we came out in the second half and did a better job giving that energy and effort."
UWM's set the tone for its second-half rally quickly, getting Tiby to the foul line in each of its first three possessions of the half. Milwaukee eventually got within 45-40 on a basket by Moore before a Wichmann three made it 45-43.
The Panthers' first lead of the game came at 48-47 on a Wichmann three with 12:00 remaining, and the Panthers eventually led 53-49 on an Aaron layin with 7:25 left.
UIC did grab one lead from there, pulling ahead 54-53 on a pair of free throws by Brown. But Aaron answered with the next five points for Milwaukee to restore order. From there, the Panthers made 7-of-8 from the line and Aaron nailed a 17-footer just before the shot clock in the final two minues to help UWM hang on for the win.
Wichmann was obviously a major spark for Milwaukee, recording a double-digit point effort off the bench for the second-straight road game.
"Huge," Jeter said. "Obviously Austin (Arians) being in foul trouble and his presence to be able to stretch zones, Cody was able to do that in the absence of Austin."
"We've been trying to get Cody to just go out there and play basketball. We know he's a great, great player," Aaron said. "We've been waiting for him to just come out and play and I think tonight he was a spark for us and one of the main reasons we were able to get back in the game and win it."
The strong second half effort allowed Milwaukee to quickly move past its struggles in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers trailed nearly the entire way after falling in a quick 6-0 hole. Milwaukee did fight back to tie the game at 12-apiece on an Aaron three but UIC answered with the next nine points to seize control.
UWM's best push back came when Wichmann hit a three to make it 23-18, and then the two teams traded hoops to make it 25-20. But UIC finished the half on an 11-3 run to carry a 36-23 lead into the break.
The Panthers head to Valparaiso for game two of their three-game road swing. The contest with the Crusaders is Saturday at 1 p.m. and can be seen live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.