Jan. 14, 2011
Northwestern (11-4, 2-3) at Michigan State (11-5, 3-1)
Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Breslin Center (14,759)
East Lansing, Mich. Noon CT
TV: Big Ten Network (Tom Hart and Greg Kelser)
Audio: WGN 720 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Craig Moore)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern brings its regular season series with Michigan State to a close Saturday as it travels to East Lansing. Tip-off is set for noon Central time. It's the second meeting between the teams in 13 days. The Wildcats opened their Big Ten home season against the Spartans back on Jan. 3.
NU is coming off a convincing 90-71 win at Iowa on Wednesday, the program's largest margin of victory in Iowa City. Each of Northwestern's first seven field goals came from behind the 3-point line as it used an early 24-4 run to surge in front 24-8. The Wildcats led by as many as 27 in the first half. Drew Crawford paced four NU players in double figures with 19 points.
After setting the school record for career minutes played Wednesday, senior point guard Michael Thompson has the opportunity to add another Northwestern mark to his resume. He enters Saturday's game with 449 career assists, three shy of the program record held by Patrick Baldwin (1991-94).
First meeting: Northwestern nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback Jan. 3 in Evanston. The Wildcats trailed by 13 with three minutes left before trimming the deficit to one. However, they couldn't make it all the way back, falling 65-62. Drew Crawford had a team-high 17 points for NU.
Scouting Michigan State
The Spartans (11-5, 3-1) rallied back to defeat Wisconsin 64-61 in overtime at home Tuesday. Draymond Green led MSU with 26 points and nine rebounds.
Durrell Summers paces Michigan State with an average of 14.8 points per game. Green contributes 12.6 points and a team-high 8.9 boards per game.
Tom Izzo is in his 16th season as the head coach at Michigan State. He has a career record of 375-151.
Shurna Selected to Wooden Award Midseason Top 30
John Shurna is one of 30 individuals named to the midseason top 30 list for the Wooden Award which is presented to the nation's top college basketball player. He is one of six Big Ten players on the list, joining Purdue's E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, Illinois' Demetri McCamey, Wisconsin's Jon Leuer and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger. Shurna was also named to the preseason watch list for the Naismith Award which is a similar honor.
Climbing the Charts
Senior point guard Michael Thompson currently has 1,362 career points, ranking him 10th in Northwestern history. He started the season in 21st place. The Chicago native comes into Saturday's game with 449 career assists, three shy of the top spot all-time at NU held by Patrick Baldwin (1991-94). Thompson became the second player in NU history to post 400 career assists when he reached the milestone Nov. 30 in a win over Georgia Tech. He also ranks second all-time at Northwestern with 218 3-point field goals.
It's a rare thing when Michael Thompson isn't on the court for Northwestern. On Jan. 12 at Iowa, he became the school's all-time leader in minutes played, surpassing Jim Stack (1979-83). Last season, Thompson ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 37.7 minutes played per game. His average of 36.4 minutes per game this season ranks second in the Big Ten. Thompson has started all 110 games during his career as a Wildcat.
For the second consecutive season, Northwestern started its campaign with at least nine wins in its first 11 games. A year ago, NU opened 10-1 en route to earning a No. 25 national ranking. Prior to last season, the Wildcats last posted nine wins in their first 11 contests in the 1993-94 campaign. This year's team matched last year's squad which also notched a school-record five wins (5-1) in the month of November. The 2010-11 'Cats finished the program's first undefeated November when playing at least three games.
Northwestern has long been known for its accurate 3-point shooting. The Wildcats rank 20th in the nation with a .402 3-point percentage this season. NU is also fifth nationally with an average of 9.6 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is recognized by the NCAA as the nation's leader with a .575 3-point percentage. Shurna's 10-for-11 performance overall from the field in a win over Long Island Dec. 13 ranks as a tie for the second-best effort in program history.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten and rank sixth in the nation with an average of 18.3 assists per game. NU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.68 (274 assists, 163 turnovers) is the nation's third best mark. The 'Cats are also ninth nationally with an average of only 10.9 turnovers per game.
A year after shattering the school season record with 317 3-point makes, the Wildcats have picked up right where they left off. NU leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally with an average of 9.6 3-point makes per game this season. John Shurna ranks third among all Big Ten players with an average of 2.8 triples per contest.
A year after leading the Big Ten in scoring during conference play, Northwestern is putting a number of points on the board again this year. The Wildcats currently rank second in the Big Ten with an average of 77.9 points per game. NU has scored over 90 points in a game five times this season, the most since the 1988-89 campaign when it also reached the mark five times. Northwestern had scored 90 points in a game just twice in Bill Carmody's first 10 seasons as head coach.
Scoring Spree, Part 2
Northwestern's 93-81 victory over Indiana Jan. 9 marked the team's most points in a Big Ten game since a 97-93 overtime win over No. 8 Michigan on March 12, 1994. Northwestern's 97 points in its season-opener at Northern Illinois Nov. 12 was its highest total in the 11-year Bill Carmody era and was its most since that same Michigan game. The Indiana win, coupled with a 90-71 victory at Iowa Jan. 12 marked NU's first time scoring at least 90 points in consecutive Big Ten games since Jan. 3 and 10, 1970 vs. Michigan (L, 96-92) and at Michigan State (L, 98-93), respectively.
Northwestern begins a busy stretch of three home games in six days Tuesday when it takes on Michigan. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. from Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!