Jan. 8, 2013
Skip Myslenski's Preview
The Last Meeting
February 25, 2012
University Park, Pa.
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern plays its second-straight road game Thursday as it travels to Penn State. The contest is being televised by ESPNU with tip-off set for 7 p.m. CT.
The game can also be heard on 720 AM WGN and online at wgnradio.com.
The ESPNU airwaves were very kind to the Wildcats last season as they posted a 7-1 record in games televised by the network. The lone loss was at Washington in the second round of the NIT. Northwestern's next contest at home against Iowa on Sunday is also being televised by ESPNU.
The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back losses to top-10 teams to open the Big Ten season, falling at home to No. 2 Michigan and at No. 9 Minnesota. NU trailed by just three at the half on Sunday against the Golden Gophers before the hosts were able to pull away in the second half for a 69-51 win. Reggie Hearn returned from a two-game absence due to injury to pace Northwestern with 11 points.
Last Season: Northwestern swept the season series from Penn State a year ago, winning 68-56 Jan. 1 in Evanston before posting a 67-66 win Feb. 25 in University Park.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions (8-6, 0-2 Big Ten) dropped a 74-51 loss at home to No. 5 Indiana on Monday. Ross Travis led Penn State with 14 points.
D.J. Newbill paces Penn State with an average of 14.9 point points per game, while Jermaine Marshall contributes 14.6 points per contest.
Patrick Chambers is in his second season as head coach at Penn State where he has a 20-26 record. He has a 62-54 career record in four seasons overall as a head coach.
HE'S HEATING UP
Redshirt freshman Tre Demps struggled from the field to open the season, but he has come on strong as of late. The guard missed each of his 14 3-point field goal attempts through Northwestern's first nine contests. However, he bounced back by hitting three of his four tries from beyond the arch Dec. 8 against Butler en route to scoring a career-best 15 points. Demps followed up the performance by hitting three of four triple tries again on Dec. 17 in a 12-point effort in a victory over Texas State and scored 12 more on Dec. 21 against Stanford. He is averaging 11.3 points per game in the last six contests while shooting 65.0 percent (13-20) from 3-point range.
Northwestern is in the midst of a tough opening start to the Big Ten season. Of the Wildcats' first seven Big Ten games, five of the contests are against teams that are ranked in the top 12 of this week's Associated Press poll. During that stretch, NU faces Michigan (No. 2), Indiana (No. 5) and Illinois (No. 12) once apiece as well as Minnesota (No. 8) twice.
DISHING IT OUT
Sophomore Dave Sobolewski has been in a giving mood so far this season. The point guard handed out a career-best nine assists in Northwestern's season-opening win over Texas Southern Nov. 13 and then followed it up with eight helpers against Mississippi Valley State Nov. 15. His average of 4.4 assists per game ranks fourth in the Big Ten. A year ago, Sobolewski led the Big Ten and paced all nation's freshmen with a 2.63 assist-to-turnover ratio. Through 15 contests, Northwestern ranks 17th nationally with an average of 16.9 assists per game while leading the country with a .735 assist percentage.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats ranked fourth in the nation with a 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio last season and they're eighth in the nation so far this year with a 1.49 ratio (253 assists, 170 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11.
Northwestern led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally in 2011-12 with an average of 9.0 3-point makes per game. The Wildcats have picked up where they left off, averaging 8.3 makes through the first 15 games of the 2012-13 season, ranking 27th in the nation.
Northwestern returns home Sunday as it takes on Iowa at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. with ESPNU providing live television coverage.
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