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    Wildcats Tip Off Big Ten Season at Home Against Penn State Wednesday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Sophomore forward Jeff Ryan ranks third in the Big Ten with a .612 field goal percentage.
    Sophomore forward Jeff Ryan ranks third in the Big Ten with a .612 field goal percentage.

    Jan. 1, 2008

    NU Game Notes vs. Penn State Get Acrobat Reader

    EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern's men's basketball team tips off the new year and its 2007-08 Big Ten season Wednesday as it hosts Penn State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. with the game being televised live by ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen and Stephen Bardo on the call. This is the only scheduled regular season matchup between the teams this season.

    The contest can also be heard on WGN Radio (720 AM) with Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle describing the action.

    It will be College Night at Welsh-Ryan Arena as any student with a valid college I.D. will receive half-price admission ($10) and a free t-shirt.

    The Wildcats will be in search of their fifth consecutive win after posting a perfect 4-0 record during the month of December. It was the team's first undefeated month since going 7-0 in December of 1993.

    The Wildcats are 2-5 in Big Ten openers and 3-4 in Big Ten home openers under head coach Bill Carmody. Northwestern dropped it's conference opener 83-57 at Penn State last season.

    Series History: Penn State leads, 20-12. The series is tied 8-8 in games played in Evanston.
    Last Meeting: The Wildcats posted a 53-51 victory over the Nittany Lions Feb. 10, 2007 in Evanston behind 16 points and 10 rebounds by Kevin Coble.

    Last Time Out
    Four Wildcats scored in double figures as Northwestern won its fourth straight with a 77-51 win over Howard Dec. 20 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Sterling Williams and Jason Okrzesik each scored 12 points, Nikola Baran had 11 points and Jeff Ryan added 10 for NU. The Wildcats came out of the gates on fire, using an 18-1 run to open up a 25-5 lead 10 minutes into the contest. Northwestern's defense forced eight turnovers during the run and a total of 13 in the first half overall as the 'Cats surged ahead to a commanding 42-18 lead at the intermission. NU's advantage would grow to as large as 33 points in the second half. Northwestern dominated the play in the paint, outscoring the Bison 52-18. The Wildcats also turned Howard's 25 turnovers into 33 points.

    Coble Rejoins Wildcat Program
    Northwestern sophomore forward Kevin Coble, a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection a year ago, is expected to be in uniform for the first time this season when the Wildcats take on Penn State Wednesday. He has yet to appear in a game for the Wildcats this season after taking a break to be with his mother in his hometown of Phoenix while she underwent cancer treatments. Coble remained enrolled in classes and began practicing with the team full-time once again last weekend. He led the Wildcats in both scoring (13.4 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg) last season, making him the first freshman in school history to accomplish the feat.

    We're No. 1!
    The Wildcats ranked atop all of NCAA Division I with a 1.72 assist-to-turnover ratio through games played Dec. 16 (currently 1.74). Northwestern has dished out 172 assists this season while turning the ball over just 99 times. NU's average of 11.0 turnovers per game is the third-best mark in the nation, trailing only Texas and Butler. The Wildcats also rank among the nation's leaders in assists per game (19.1 pg) and 3-point field goals made per game (9.4 pg).

    Carmody Earns Win No. 100 at NU
    In the Wildcats' 77-51 win over Howard Dec. 20, head coach Bill Carmody became just the second head coach in the history of the Wildcat basketball program to win 100 games at NU. Carmody's record at Northwestern currently stands at 100-117 in eight seasons at the helm of the Wildcats. Arthur Lonborg posted a 236-203 record at Northwestern from 1928-50.

    The Season for Giving (and Taking)
    The Wildcats rank atop the Big Ten in assists so far this season, averaging 19.1 per contest. Michael Thompson and Craig Moore have played a large role in Northwestern ranking atop the category as Thompson is second in the conference with an average of 5.0 assists per game, while Moore is close behind, ranked eighth at 3.9 helpers per game. NU is a close second behind Minnesota with a norm of 10.33 steals per contest.

    Scouting Penn State
    • The Nittany Lions (8-4) have won five straight games, including an 81-68 victory at home over Lehigh on Monday. Senior forward Geary Claxton led PSU with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

    • Claxton ranks second in the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team for the second consecutive year.

    • Penn State has played just one true road game so far this season, a 79-67 defeat at Saint Joseph's Dec. 1. The team's other three losses came at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. PSU has won all eight of its home games so far.

    Up Next...
    The Wildcats hit the road for the first time in Big Ten play this season when they travel to Ohio State this Sunday for an 11 a.m. Central time tip.