Feb. 9, 2007
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Feb. 10, 2007 -- 1:30 p.m. CT
Northwestern (11-12, 1-9) vs. Penn State (10-12, 1-8)
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Radio -- WGN 720 AM (Dave Eanet and Dave Kaplan) & WNUR 89.3 FM
Television -- ESPN Plus Regional, WCIU in Chicago (Wayne Larrivee and Mike Kelley)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern comes into Saturday's game attempting to snap a four-game skid when it hosts Penn State at 1:30 p.m. CT at Welsh-Ryan Arena. In their last outing, Tim Doyle led the Wildcats with 16 points and five assists in a loss at home to in-state rival Illinois on Wednesday.
Freshman Kevin Coble is making a strong case for Big Ten All-Freshmen honors this season and leads the team with 12.6 ppg -- third best among Big Ten freshmen.
Penn State is coming off a 71-58 home loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday night where Jamelle Cornley led the Nittany Lions with 20 points, followed up with a double-double from Geary Claxton who tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Saturday is the 32nd meeting between the two schools. Penn State leads the all-time series 20-11, though Northwestern has won four of the last five at Welsh-Ryan.
Coble Among Top NU Freshmen
With his 12.6 ppg average, Kevin Coble is on pace to become just the fifth true-freshman to lead the Wildcats in scoring since the 1972-73 season when freshman became eligible for varsity competition. Ben Johnson was the last Wildcat to do it in 2000 when he averaged 11.6 ppg. Cedric Neloms also did it in 1992 with 14.4 ppg, Jim Stack in 1980 with 12.9 and Billy McKinney -- Northwestern's all-time leading scorer -- with 15.8 ppg in 1974.
Coble is one of the leading candidates for Big Ten All-Freshman honors. He is averaging 14.2 points over the last five games, has scored in double-figures 14 times and has four games with 20 or more points. Among conference newcomers, he ranks third in scoring (12.6), fifth in rebounding (4.6), fourth in FG percentage (.517) and third in 3FG percentage (.400). He is seventh in the Big Ten overall in FG percentage and 16th in scoring. His perfect 5-of-5 shooting performance from behind the arc against Utah in December is tied for the best 3FG shooting performance in the Big Ten this season among all players. He averaged 20.3 ppg in three games at the San Juan Shootout and was named to the all-tournament team for his efforts.
Since returning from injury four games ago, Coble has stepped up in Big Ten action. As mentioned, he is averaging 14.2 ppg over the last five conference games while shooting 56 percent from the field and 43 percent from long range (10-of-23). Coble averaged just 5.7 points and shot 27 percent in his first three league games against Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. He sat out the home game with Wisconsin (Jan. 13) and the road game at Ohio State (Jan. 17). He scored 13 in his return at Minnesota, 10 in the narrow defeat to No. 5 Ohio State, 15 at home against Minnesota and 24 on the road at Wisconsin.
With 119 assists, senior Tim Doyle is on pace to break Northwestern's single-season record for assists which currently stands at 154 (Patrick Baldwin, 1994). With his 5.2 apg average, he is on pace for 160 by season's end. Last year he became just the sixth player in Northwestern history to record at least 200 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in the same season. He needs 21 rebounds to duplicate that feat again this season.
He Can Score Too
In addition to Coble, Tim Doyle has been forced to pick up some of the scoring slack of late and is averaging 13.8 points over the last four games. He scored 30 points in two home games against No. 5 Ohio State and Minnesota, going 13-of-24 from the field in those two games with 10 assists. He scored nine in the road loss at Wisconsin and scored a team-high 16 in the recent home loss to Illinois.
About Penn State
The Lions are led by junior Geary Claxton's 16.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore Jamelle Cornley, the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is second on the team with 14.5 points and 7.0 boards. Claxton and Cornley are first and third, respectively, in the Big Ten in rebounding.
After winning its Big Ten opener against the 'Cats Jan. 3, Penn State has lost eight-straight since.
Danny Morrissey (10.9 ppg) led Penn State with 24 points, including 6-of-9 from three, in the last game with the Wildcats in University Park.
Penn State earned its first postseason bid in five years with an NIT berth last season, hosting and falling to Rutgers in the first round 76-71.
Ed DeChellis is in his fourth year as the head man at Penn State and in his 11th year overall as a head coach. Prior to coming to Penn State in 2003, DeChellis spent seven years at East Tennessee State, leading the Buccaneers to 20 wins and an NCAA Tournament bid in 2003. Last year he led the Nittany Lions to their first postseason appearance, most wins (15) and most Big Ten wins (6) in five years. In addition, he was named the 2006 Coaches vs. Cancer Man of the Year.