Feb. 8, 2005
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EVANSTON, Ill. -
Last season, the Northwestern men's basketball team was 3-5 at the halfway point of the Big Ten schedule, but went on a three-game winning streak to start the second half of conference action.
Northwestern at Minnesota
Wednesday, Feb. 9 * 7 p.m. Central
Williams Arena (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Radio: WGN 720 AM (Dave Eanet, play-by-play); Bob Hildebrand, analyst)
Saturday, the Wildcats went into their game with Purdue holding a 2-6 mark at the midway point of their league slate, but jumped out on the Boilermakers and then held on for a six-point victory.
NU head coach Bill Carmody hopes that will be the first of another three-game streak -- and let's face it, if it goes beyond three he will take that, too. But with a pair of games on the road this week (NU goes to Iowa Saturday), he knows that getting the streak to two will be daunting.
"You look at the top teams in the Big Ten and the bottom teams, and the difference is that the top teams are winning on the road," he said. "We want to get into that group, so now we have two games in a row to make that move."
Wednesday's test will be far from easy. Minnesota was an unknown product heading into the season, and thus lightly regarded by the pundits. However, the Gophers have constructed a 16-6 record including a 6-3 mark in the Big Ten.
"Minnesota has a bunch of guys who have been playing well and they have gotten in the habit of winning," said Carmody. "You cannot underestimate how important it is to get in the habit of winning."
Carmody is hoping that Saturday's win will get his team in that habit. He was encouraged by what he saw out of his team, especially on defense.
"I was happy with our defense Saturday, especially on the perimeter," he said. "T.J. Parker and Mohamed Hachad were really moving their feet, as was Michael Jenkins."
Did You Know?
According to Stats, Inc., Northwestern entered the week leading the nation in assist-to-field goal ratio for the season; the Wildcats have a .699 ratio (320 assists on 458 baskets). Saturday against Purdue, the Wildcats had 16 assists on 20 buckets, propelling them past Sam Houston State (.697) into the national lead in that category.
The Series with Minnesota
This marks the 147th meeting between the Wildcats and the Gophers in men's basketball; Minnesota leads the series 93-53.
This is the second year in a row and the fourth time in the last six years Northwestern and Minnesota have played just once during the regular season.
NU has won two in a row in the series. Last year, the 'Cats won their only meeting with the Gophers, 61-47, in Evanston.
NU head coach Bill Carmody is 3-4 all-time against Minnesota.