Jan. 28, 2011
Northwestern (13-7, 3-6 Big Ten) vs. Ohio State (21-0, 8-0)
Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 5 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien and Dan Dakich)
Audio: 720 AM WGN and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 122 and XM 143
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern hosts the nation's top-ranked team Saturday as undefeated Ohio State comes to Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip time is set for 5 p.m. It is the 16th time in school history that NU has faced the No. 1 team in the nation and the first time in six years.
A very limited number of standing-room and obstructed-view tickets remain for the contest.
Fans are encouraged to wear purple and sneakers in support of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer weekend. Those fans who do will be eligible to win a gift certificate courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods.
The Wildcats are looking to bounce back from an 81-70 loss at No. 16 Minnesota Wednesday night. Northwestern trailed by as many as 13 in the first half before closing the period on an 18-4 run to take a 34-33 halftime lead. However, the Golden Gophers used a huge free throw disparity in the second half to earn the win. Michael Thompson led the Wildcats with 18 points, while John Shurna and Drew Crawford added 16 and 15, respectively.
Saturday's contest features the top two scoring teams in the Big Ten. Ohio State paces the conference with an average of 79.3 points per game, while Northwestern is second at 76.2 points per contest. The Buckeyes are also first with a .410 3-point field goal percentage, while the Wildcats are third at .390.
Northwestern and Ohio State met just once last season with the Buckeyes posting a 76-56 win Jan. 19 in Columbus. John Shurna
led the Wildcats with a game-high 22 points.
Scouting Ohio State
The Buckeyes (21-0, 8-0) are coming off a convincing 87-64 home win over No. 12 Purdue on Tuesday. William Buford led six Ohio State players in double figures with 19 points.
Freshman forward Jared Sullinger paces the team with averages of 17.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. OSU leads the Big Ten in scoring offense (79.3), field goal percentage (.498) and steals (7.7).
Thad Matta has a 177-54 record in seven seasons at Ohio State and a 279-85 mark in 11 overall seasons as a head coach.
Taking on No. 1
Saturday's matchup for the Wildcats is their 16th all-time against the nation's top-ranked team and their first since they faced Illinois March 11, 2005 in the Big Ten tournament. Northwestern is seeking its first win against a team ranked No. 1. NU has twice defeated the second-ranked team in the country, beating Illinois 83-82 March 5, 1956 and Michigan 99-87 Jan. 29, 1977. The closest Northwestern has come to beating the top team in the Associated Press poll was an 88-82 loss to Loyola-Chicago Dec. 28, 1963 in Philadelphia. This is NU's fifth meeting with the Buckeyes when they are ranked No. 1.
NU's Game at Indiana Set for Feb. 19
The Big Ten Conference recently announced that the contest between Northwestern and Indiana in Bloomington will be played Feb. 19. The wild-card contest also had the option of being played one day later. The matchup tips at 6 p.m. Central time with Big Ten Network providing live television coverage.
Setting the Standard
With a victory over SIU Edwardsville Jan. 20, this year's senior class matched last year's class for the Northwestern record for most victories by one class of 58. The 37 combined wins by the Wildcats over the previous two seasons are a school record for back-to-back campaigns.
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 1,418 career points, ranking him eighth in Northwestern history. He started the season in 21st place. The Chicago native also has 472 career assists. He surpassed Patrick Baldwin (1991-94) for first place in school history Jan. 15 at Michigan State. 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 228 3-point field goals and 115 games started.
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). He eclipsed 4,000 minutes for his career Jan. 20 vs. SIU Edwardsville. Last season, Thompson ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 37.7 minutes played per game. His average of 35.7 minutes per game this season ranks second in the Big Ten. Thompson has started all 115 games during his career as a Wildcat.
Northwestern has long been known for its accurate 3-point shooting. The Wildcats rank 31st in the nation with a .390 3-point percentage this season. NU is also seventh nationally with an average of 9.3 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is recognized by the NCAA as the nation's leader with a .522 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 seventh in the nation with an average of 18.0 assists per game. NU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.69 (359 assists, 213 turnovers) is the nation's third-best mark. The 'Cats are also ninth nationally with an average of only 10.7 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 seventh nationally with an average of 9.3 3-point makes per game this season. John Shurna ranks fourth among all Big Ten players with an average of 2.5 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 76.2 points per game. NU has scored over 90 points in a game six times this season, the most since the 1970-71 campaign when it also reached the mark six 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. Coupled with a 90-71 victory at Iowa Jan. 12, it 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. The Wildcats' 98 points against SIU Edwardsville Jan. 20 were their most since a 100-89 win over Wisconsin March 6, 1993.
Northwestern returns to action next Saturday, Feb. 5 as it hosts Illinois. Tip time is set for noon with CBS providing live television coverage.
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