Men’s Basketball: Dererk Pardon shines once again against Michigan


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Dererk Pardon gains position in the post. The senior center had 20 points during a December game against Michigan.

Andrew Golden, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

The last time Northwestern played against Michigan in Welsh-Ryan Arena, then-sophomore center Dererk Pardon hit the game-winning shot that essentially made the Wildcats a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for NU, the Cats didn’t have the same luck Tuesday, losing 62-60 to the No. 5 Wolverines on a close call that came down to a missed shot from graduate guard Ryan Taylor.

“If you’ve witnessed two of the last three games here, that bank shot goes in at the end,” Michigan coach John Beilein said of Ryan Taylor’s last-second shot.

One thing that stayed constant between the last two games at Welsh-Ryan Arena was Pardon’s impact. Although he didn’t hit a game winner on Tuesday, he was the primary reason the Cats stayed in the game in the first half.

Pardon started the scoring for NU with a three-pointer off of a bank shot as he continues to show his improved 3-point shooting from the offseason. Pardon is now 2-5 from three on the season and has made two in his last four games.

But Pardon made sure to make his presence felt in the paint as well. He scored 16 points in the first half on an efficient 7-8 shooting.

“He was fantastic,” coach Chris Collins said. “And that’s how he has played. He’s a terrific player. You’re coming to get this every night from him… He’s worked himself into coming one of the premier big guys in college basketball.”

Pardon rolled his ankle midway through the second half and wasn’t as effective offensively. He still finished with 20 points while shooting 90 percent from the field.

Despite going up against Michigan forwards Austin Davis, Ignas Brazdeikis, and center John Teske, who is five inches taller, Pardon continually outplayed them when he got the ball in the paint or the post. They struggled to come up with stops and on the other side of the ball, Pardon helped contain Teske, who finished with just eight points.

Beilein said that it was a great matchup between big men with two completely different games — Pardon, who primarily works in the post and Teske, who plays through high pick and rolls.

“(He has) long arms at 6’8”, makes him about 6’10”,” Beilein said. “He’s one of the guys that’s the Ethan Happ type; multiple dribbles and still feels everything around him. The kid has a great feel for the game.”

In the Cats’ only other Big Ten matchup against Indiana, Pardon scored 24 points on 11-15 shooting. Pardon has been — and will have to continue to be — effective as the Wildcats continue to face tough opponents in the Big Ten.

But for Pardon, this seems like only the beginning of big things for him in this new offense.

“I’m just trying to get more comfortable in the offense,” Pardon said. “The ball is starting to find my way more. I’m getting my shots up and making the shots I make in practice. Pretty much, I feel in a rhythm now.”

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