February 18, 2012

'Tevinsanity' leads Bears in another BracketBusters win

B.J. Hill 1310-AM KFKA postgame | Hill postgame media session | Tevin Svihovec postgame media session | Emmanuel Addo postgame media session

GREELEY -- There's been a lot of focus this season on what Northern Colorado Basketball doesn't have.

The Bears entered the season coming off an incredible two-year run that saw them set a school record for wins in 2010 and earn last season their first-ever Big Sky Conference regular-season and postseason championships and NCAA Tournament berth.

Northern Colorado also began this season without some program stalwarts that helped them author those memorable seasons. And it has seemed like the Bears have been suffering from a bit of a hangover from all those good memories in the last two years.

And if so, it seems like the Bears' 81-73 victory against Cal Poly on Saturday night, part of ESPN BracketBusters, might be the perfect time for Northern Colorado fans to turn their gaze toward the future.

Because it was here tonight that guard Tevin Svihovec did something that no one else has—no one!—in the Bears' NCAA Division I history.

He scored 34 points against the Mustangs (15-13) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, surpassing the 33 points Will Figures put in Feb. 13, 2010, which for more than two years had been Northern Colorado's high-water mark.

Figures is one of the great players in Northern Colorado Basketball history, and he was a senior in that game.

Svihovec? He's a redshirt-freshman, who played in just his 26th collegiate basketball game Saturday.

"Tevin makes you a lot better coach," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "He's a special kid, and I think what does it, what gives him the confidence to go out and make those plays, is his level of mental maturity and mental toughness for a redshirt freshman far surpasses any other freshman I've ever had the chance to coach."

"I had fun, playing and doing that," Svihovec said. "My teammates just fed me the ball, and I felt good, and I felt like they were confident in me, and we played together and got a great win."

"Tevinsanity!," Emmanuel Addo added, in homage to current New York Knick Jeremy Lin and the "Linsanity" craze sweeping the NBA . "He was hot, and we just tried to give him the ball whenever we could, and he put us on his back and carried us to victory."

Svihovec was hot from the start, teaming with sophomore Paul Garnica (11 points) and senior Mike Proctor (11 points, 10 rebounds) to help the Bears (9-17) not miss from the field in their first six attempts and shoot out to a 14-9 lead four minutes into the game.

The Bears eventually missed—Svihovec, in fact, missed a layup at 15:35—but they continued their early surge and eventually led 19-9.

Cal Poly responded and took a 25-23 with a little more than six minutes to go before halftime, and the Bears didn't lead again in the half until Svihovec put them ahead 38-37 by splashing home a heavily-guarded three from the left side with three seconds left.

Svihovec made six of eight from the field before halftime and finished 11-of-16 from the field and added 10 free throws in 11 attempts in the second half to score 21 points after halftime.

He was one of four in double figures for the Bears (Addo finished with 13), who were able to overcome the absence of leading scorer Tate Unruh, who suffered an injury during pregame warm-ups.

"You never ask a kid to score 34—he's just a talent," Hill said, "but [Unruh's absence] did put some pressure on us, in terms of our rotations and how we wanted to use timeouts and what we were going to do defensively."

Chris Eversley led Cal Poly with 18 points, and Dylan Royer added 16 for the Mustangs, who shot 52 percent from the field in the first half and 64 percent from three.

Those numbers are usually good enough to earn a team a lead at the break, but Northern Colorado was better from the floor (67 percent) and nearly as good from three (63 percent).

The Bears are the nation's best three-point shooting team, and they played that role Saturday finishing 8-of-16 from deep. That, paired with their 25-of-41 performance from the floor (61 percent) helped them even their all-time series with Cal Poly at 1-1.

Addo's 3-pointer with 8:40 to play in the game put the Bears ahead for good, and they cushioned that lead with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes and led 67-58.

Svihovec was in control down the stretch, scoring nine of the Bears' final 12 points and tying Figures mark and then eclipsing it on a pair of free throws.

"The funny thing is, [Unruh] was actually over there at the beginning of the game, saying '35' in my ear, so that was pretty funny," Svihovec said. "But we have other weapons, too. Emmanuel played great, Paul did good, Mike did well, Tim helped us big time in the second half, crashing [the boards]. It was a great team win."