Jan. 1, 2014
Skip Myslenski's Game Primer
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern rings in the new year and opens up the Big Ten season Thursday as it hosts No. 4/5 Wisconsin at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
The contest begins a challenging start to the league slate for the 'Cats as they'll follow it up by traveling to defending national runner-up Michigan prior to a road game at No. 22/23 Iowa. NU then hosts Illinois and No. 5/4 Michigan State before then hitting the road again at Indiana.
The matchup marks the first time that the Wildcats have taken on the Badgers in their first conference game of the season since Jan. 8, 1992, a 69-67 win by Wisconsin in Madison.
NU is coming off a heartbreaking 57-56 loss to DePaul last Friday. Dave Sobolewski's 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining gave the 'Cats a one-point lead, but Billy Garrett Jr.'s basket at the buzzer gave the Blue Demons the victory. Tre Demps led all scorers with a career-best 23 points for Northwestern.
Thursday's matchup features a pair of high school teammates as Sobolewski of the Wildcats squares off against classmate and Badger forward Frank Kaminsky. The two paired together at Benet Academy in Naperville, Ill.
The Badgers wrapped up nonconference play with an 80-43 home win over Prairie View A&M on Saturday behind 16 points and 11 rebounds from Sam Dekker.
Dekker paces the team with averages of 14.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while Frank Kaminsky contributes 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten with a .396 3-point field goal percentage.
Bo Ryan is in his 304-113 in 13 seasons as the head coach at Wisconsin and 687-216 in 30 seasons overall as a head coach.
DEFENSE DIGS IN
Northwestern's defense has been stingy against the opposition as it heads into Big Ten play. The Wildcats have held their last four opponents to a combined 32.9 percent shooting from the field and 21.1 percent from 3-point range. Each of the four foes shot below 37 percent for the game. NU has held seven teams below 37 percent shooting already this season.
Drew Crawford is the Big Ten's active leading scorer with 1,615 career points. The total ranks fifth in school history and is 74 points behind Michael Thompson (2008-11) for fourth place. Crawford missed most of last season due to injury and returned to the Northwestern lineup with a vengeance in the season-opener against Eastern Illinois, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 25 points. The point total was the highest by a Wildcat in a season-opener since John Shurna scored 31 in a victory at Northern Illinois Nov. 12, 2010. Crawford ranks ninth in the Big Ten in scoring (16.4 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (7.8 ppg). Adreian Payne of Michigan State is the only other Big Ten player to rank in the top 10 in the league in both categories.
Active Division I Players with 1,600 Career Points and 600 Career Rebounds
(through games played Dec. 29--courtesy STATS, Inc.)
Name (Team) - Points - Reb.
Doug McDermott (Creighton) - 2,513 - 932
Cleveland Melvin (DePaul) - 1,667 - 672
Javon McCrea (Buffalo) - 1,644 - 798
Drew Crawford (Northwestern) - 1,615 - 602
Augustine Rubit (S. Alabama) - 1,615 - 1,015
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE
When Drew Crawford (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Sanjay Lumpkin (13 points, 10 rebounds) both posted double-doubles against Mississippi Valley State Dec. 16, it marked the first time that Northwestern teammates posted double-doubles in the same game since John Shurna (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Luka Mirkovic (11 points, 11 rebounds) accomplished the feat in a 53-44 win over Texas-Pan American Jan. 7, 2010.
After sitting out all of last season, JerShon Cobb has been impressive in his return to the court. Cobb handed out a career-high eight assists in the Wildcats' season-opener vs. Eastern Illinois. He followed up the performance by scoring 19 points at Stanford Nov. 14 and then scored 19 again vs. Illinois State Nov. 17. Cobb's 11 free throws and 14 attempts against the Redbirds were both career highs. The 14 attempts were the most by a Northwestern player since Jitim Young had 15 vs. Michigan State on March 12, 2004. Cobb also posted a career-best 12 rebounds in a win at UIC Nov. 20 and knocked down the game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining in a 63-61 win over IUPUI Nov. 22. His 22 points vs. Missouri Nov. 28 and again the following day vs. UCLA were two shy of his career high achieved vs. Minnesota on March 8, 2012.
As previously noted, Drew Crawford has been both an effective scorer and rebounder this season. In a victory over Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 16, Crawford posted 26 points and 10 rebounds. He followed up the effort with 24 points and 11 boards in a win over Brown on Sunday. Crawford is the first Wildcat to post 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in consecutive games since Jitim Young had 23 points and 12 rebounds vs. Indiana and 25 points and 10 rebounds vs. Wisconsin on Feb. 5 and 8, respectively, of 2003.
BOOST OFF THE BENCH
Tre Demps has provided Northwestern with some scoring punch off the bench so far this season. The redshirt sophomore is averaging 11.0 points per game, including scoring in double figures eight times in the team's 13 games. Demps is coming off a career-best 23-point performance against DePaul last Friday. The point total was the highest in a game by a Northwestern player off the bench since Cedric Neloms scored 25 vs. Ohio State on Feb. 10, 1993.
Big Ten Non-Starter Scoring Leaders
(through games played Dec. 29)
Name (Team) - Avg.
Tre Demps (Northwestern) - 11.0
Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa) - 10.8
Malik Smith (Minnesota) - 9.8
Bryson Scott (Purdue) - 9.8
Deverell Biggs (Nebraska) - 9.3
HITTING THE GLASS
Redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin has been an effective rebounder so far this season. His average of 5.6 rebounds per game ranks second among all Big Ten freshmen, trailing only Indiana's Noah Vonleh (9.5 rpg). Lumpkin notched his first career double-figure rebounding game on Nov. 17 vs. Illinois State. His 11 rebounds were the most by an NU freshman since Drew Crawford had 12 in an NIT game at Rhode Island March 17, 2010. He followed it up with 10 boards at UIC, which coupled with 10 points gave him his first collegiate double-double. Lumpkin is the first NU player with double-figure rebounds in consecutive games since Crawford vs. Purdue (10) and at Rhode Island March 12 and 17 of 2010. A second double-double followed for Lumpkin against Mississippi Valley State Dec. 16, posting 13 points and 10 boards. Lumpkin is the first NU freshman to post 10+ rebounds in three or more games since Evan Eschmeyer had four during the 1995-96 season.
Northwestern hits the road for the first time in Big Ten play as it travels to Michigan on Sunday. Tip-off is 11 a.m. Central time with Big Ten Network providing live television coverage.
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