Feb. 8, 2013
WATCH: Coach Carmody Iowa Preview | Swopshire Iowa Preview |
Sobolewski Iowa Preview
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern shoots for its third-consecutive win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena as it travels to Iowa on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m.
The game can be seen on Big Ten Network and heard on 720 AM WGN and online at wgnradio.com.
The Wildcats have won five of their last six meetings with the Hawkeyes, including a 70-66 comeback win in Iowa City last season. NU erased a 15-point deficit with a 27-5 first-half run en route to the victory. The team's 90-71 win at Iowa during the 2010-11 season was its largest margin of victory ever in Iowa City.
Northwestern has been off since posting a 75-60 home win over Purdue last Saturday. Reggie Hearn made each of his first nine field goal attempts in scoring 21 of his career-high 26 points in the first half. All four Wildcat starters scored at least nine points and NU held the Boilermakers to 33.3 percent shooting in the contest, including 26.2 percent in the second half.
Northwestern shot a season-low 29.4 percent from the field as Iowa posted a 70-50 win Jan. 13 in Evanston. Dave Sobolewski
led the Wildcats with 14 points.
The Hawkeyes (14-9, 3-7 Big Ten) suffered their fifth conference loss by four points or less on Wednesday when they fell 74-70 in double overtime at Wisconsin. Mike Gesell led Iowa with 14 points.
Aaron White paces the team with averages of 13.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. The Hawkeyes rank first in the Big Ten with an average of 16.1 assists per game and a .288 3-point field goal percentage defense.
Fran McCaffery is in his third season as head coach at Iowa where he has a 43-46 record. He has a 304-223 career record in 17 seasons overall as a head coach.
(H)EARNING HIS KEEP
Senior guard Reggie Hearn has taken his game to another level during his senior season. He tallied a team-high 20 points on Jan. 17 in leading Northwestern to a convincing 68-54 victory at then-No. 23/22 Illinois. It was the second straight year that Hearn scored 20 points in a victory at Assembly Hall. The Fort Wayne native followed up the performance by scoring a game-high 22 points against Indiana on Jan. 20 and then a career-high 26 points in a win over Purdue Feb. 2. The former walk-on leads the Wildcats and ranks eighth in the Big Ten with a scoring average of 14.2 points per game and 14th with a .490 field goal percentage.
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. Northwestern is 9-3 when he scores in double figures but is 4-7 when he tallies nine points or less. His 16 rebounds against Nebraska on Jan. 26 were the most by a Northwestern player since Evan Eschmeyer had 21 against Penn State on Jan. 20, 1999. Over the last five contests, he is averaging 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Swopshire spent the last four seasons at Louisville, appearing in 109 contests with 23 starts while helping the team reach the Final Four last year. He is pursing his graduate degree in sports administration.
Everyone knows how good of a conference the Big Ten is this year and Northwestern has certainly been challenged to begin the season. The Wildcats played six of their first nine league contests against ranked opponents. During that span, NU faced Minnesota and Michigan twice as well as Indiana and Illinois once apiece.
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 61.7 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 10 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. The 48 points scored by Minnesota on Jan. 23 were the Gophers' lowest total of the season at the time by 18 points and were the fewest allowed by NU in a Big Ten game since Illinois had 48 on Feb. 18, 2007.
DISHING IT OUT
Sophomore Dave Sobolewski has been in a giving mood so far this season. His average of 4.3 assists per game ranks fourth in the Big Ten. 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. A year ago, Sobolewski led the Big Ten and paced all nation's freshmen with a 2.63 assist-to-turnover ratio.
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 sixth in the nation so far this year with a 1.44 ratio (351 assists, 244 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. Northwestern ranks second in the country with a .705 assist percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
NU is committing an average of just 10.6 turnovers per game, ranking ninth in the nation. 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.
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 are averaging 7.7 makes this season and are 9-1 when they make at least eight shots from behind the arch.
REACHING FOR THE TOP
This year's senior class has 72 career victories to date. The school record for wins by a senior class is 76 victories achieved by last year's group. The Wildcats posted a school-record 20 wins in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11 before notching 19 wins a year ago.
Northwestern remains on the road next Thursday as it travels to Ohio State. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT.
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, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for 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!