Jan. 12, 2013
The Last Meeting
March 3, 2012
Iowa City, Iowa
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern shoots for its sixth-consecutive victory over Iowa Sunday afternoon as the teams square off at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.
The game is being televised live by ESPNU and can also be seen on WatchESPN. The Wildcats are 8-1 in games televised by ESPNU over the last two seasons, including Thursday's win at Penn State. Sunday's game can also be heard on 720 AM WGN and online at wgnradio.com.
NU has won four consecutive meetings between the teams in Evanston and seven of the last eight dating back to 2004.
The Wildcats improved to 4-1 away from Evanston this season with a convincing 70-54 victory at Penn State Thursday night. NU used a 25-4 first-half run spanning 11-plus minutes to take charge. Dave Sobolewski led four Wildcats in double figures with 18 points, while Jared Swopshire added 17.
Last Season: Northwestern swept the season series from Iowa a year ago for the second straight season. Dave Sobolewski scored a career-high 23 points as the Wildcats posted a 83-64 win in Evanston Feb. 9. NU used a 27-5 first-half run to rally back from a 15-point deficit in earning the sweep with a 70-66 victory in Iowa City March 3. The Wildcats have won the last five meetings with the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes (11-5, 0-3 Big Ten) dropped a hard-fought 62-59 home decision to Michigan State Thursday evening. Zach McCabe scored a team-high 15 points off the bench for Iowa.
Roy Devyn Marble, who missed the contest against the Spartans, leads the team with an average of 15.5 points per game. Aaron White contributes 13.1 points per contest and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per game.
Fran McCaffery is in his third season as head coach at Iowa where he has a 40-42 record. He has a 291-219 career record in 17 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. 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 10.4 points per game in the last seven contests while shooting 63.6 percent (14-22) 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.
DOING IT ON DEFENSE
Northwestern has taken a step forward defensively so far this season. The Wildcats are limiting their opponents to an average of 61.8 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .410 field goal percentage. The 'Cats have held seven of their opponents to below 40 percent shooting in a game. During the 2011-12 season, Northwestern's opponents shot 45.2 percent from the field. Three times this year (Texas Southern, Fairleigh Dickinson, TCU), the Wildcats have limited the opposition to 14 first-half points, while holding three others (Brown, Minnesota, Penn State) also under 20 points in the opening stanza.
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 fifth 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 16 contests, Northwestern ranks 23rd nationally with an average of 16.6 assists per game while leading the country with a .724 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 1.50 ratio (265 assists, 177 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Though the end result didn't go the way they would have liked, the Wildcats did a great job of taking care of the basketball against Maryland Nov. 27. Northwestern committed just four turnovers in the entire contest, the fewest since it committed three in an overtime game at Illinois on Dec. 30, 2009. NU is committing an average of just 11.1 turnovers per game, ranking 16th in the nation.
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 8.4 makes through the first 16 games of the 2012-13 season, ranking 26th in the nation.
Northwestern hits the road to take on Illinois at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. The Wildcats return home Sunday, Jan. 20 when they host Indiana.
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