Jan. 19, 2013
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The Last Meeting
February 15, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern aims for back-to-back wins over ranked opponents as it hosts No. 2 Indiana on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for noon and the contest is sold out.
The Wildcats are seeking wins over ranked teams in consecutive games for the second time in school history. NU notched a 74-65 home victory over No. 18 Minnesota on Jan. 18, 2009 before defeating No. 7 Michigan State 70-63 on the road three days later. Northwestern has defeated the second-ranked team in the nation twice before, topping Illinois 83-82 on March 5, 1956 and Michigan 99-87 on Jan. 29, 1977.
The 'Cats are coming off a 68-54 win at No. 23/22 Illinois on Thursday, a game in which they never trailed. Reggie Hearn led five NU players in double figures with 20 points.
Last Season: Indiana won the only meeting between the teams a year ago, 71-66 on Feb. 15 in Bloomington. John Shurna scored a game-high 29 points for the Wildcats. Northwestern has won six of the last eight meetings between the schools, including each of the last three in Evanston.
The Hoosiers (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) are coming off a 64-59 home loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday. Cody Zeller led Indiana with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Zeller, a preseason All-American, leads the team with averages of 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting 63.1 percent from the field.
Tom Crean is in his fifth season as head coach at Indiana where he has a 70-77 record. He has a 260-173 career record in 14 seasons overall as a head coach.
Graduate student Jared Swopshire has started every game for Northwestern this season in his first year with the program. When Swopshire plays well, the Wildcats seem to be successful. In NU's victories this season, he is averaging 11.9 points per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. In games the Wildcats have lost, Swopshire is averaging just 4.6 points per contest while shooting 30.0 percent from the field. Northwestern is 7-1 when he scores in double figures but is 4-6 when he tallies nine points or less. He spent the last four seasons at Louisville, appearing in 109 contests with 23 starts while helping the team reach the Final Four last year. Swopshire is pursing his graduate degree in sports administration.
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 10.3 points per game in the last nine contests while shooting 55.2 percent (16-29) 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 this week's Associated Press poll. During that stretch, NU faces Michigan (No. 5), Indiana (No. 2) and Illinois (No. 23) once apiece as well as Minnesota (No. 9) 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 .412 field goal percentage. The 'Cats have held eight 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 4.6 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 18 contests, Northwestern ranks 36th nationally with an average of 15.8 assists per game while leading the country with a .714 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 ninth in the nation so far this year with a 1.41 ratio (284 assists, 201 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 11.2 turnovers per game, ranking 19th 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 8.2 makes through the first 18 games of the 2012-13 season, ranking 28th in the nation.
Northwestern is back in action at home Wednesday as it takes on Minnesota at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
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