Feb. 11, 2009
NU Game Notes vs. Illinois (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Northwestern looks to continue its best start to a home season in 26 years Thursday as it hosts 22nd-ranked Illinois at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. The Wildcats have won 11 of their first 13 home games for the first time since the 1982-83 campaign. ESPN2 is televising the game live with Terry Gannon and Stephen Bardo on the call.
The contest can be heard at 720 AM-WGN and online at wgnradio.com with Dave Eanet and Shon Morris. WNUR 89.3 FM is also carrying the game.
Due to an expected sellout crowd, all fans are encouraged to arrive early. Doors to Welsh-Ryan Arena open at 6:30 p.m. It will be U.S. Cellular Day with the first 2,500 NU fans receiving a purple headband.
NU is looking to bounce back from a tight 56-51 loss Saturday at Iowa. Craig Moore scored a game-high 20 points for the Wildcats, knocking down six 3-pointers. His 18 attempts from beyond the arc in the game set a record for the most tries by an individual in a BIg Ten game. Northwestern dropped the contest despite holding the Hawkeyes to 35.0 percent shooting from the field and just two made two-point field goals.
Series History: Illinois leads, 125-34.
Last Meeting: Michael Thompson scored a team-high 13 points but a slow start hurt NU in a 70-37 loss in Champaign Jan. 27, 2008.
The Fighting Illini (19-5, 7-4) took down Big Ten preseason favorite and then No. 13 Purdue 66-48 at home Sunday. Sophomore forward Mike Davis led the way with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Demetri McCamey averages a team-leading 12.1 points per game, pacing four Illinois players who average double-figure scoring. Davis contributes 10.6 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds per contest.
Bruce Weber is in his sixth season as the head coach at Illinois and has a 147-52 record over that span. He is 250-105 in 11 overall seasons as a head coach, including five years at Southern Illinois.
Iowa Game Notes
Craig Moore's 18 3-point attempts set a school record, are a tie for the third most by a Big Ten player in a game in conference history and the most ever by an individual against a league opponent ... Iowa shot 35.0 percent from the field for the game, becoming the fifth Northwestern opponent this season to shoot 35 percent or worse ... The Hawkeyes attempted 40 field goals in the game but just 10 came inside the 3-point line, including three of their 17 attempts in the first half. Iowa made just two two-point field goals the entire contest ... Freshman Luka Mirkovic came off the bench for the Wildcats to tie career highs with 9 points and 6 rebounds.
Hot at Home
Northwestern's 11-2 home record so far this season is the team's best home mark through 13 games in Bill Carmody's nine seasons as head coach. The Wildcats started the 2003-04 and 2001-02 seasons 10-2 before dropping its 13th home game. The last time NU started a season with at least 11 wins in their first 13 "home" games was the 1982-83 campaign when it played its home contests at DePaul's Alumni Hall while Welsh-Ryan Arena was undergoing renovations. Northwestern is limiting its opponents to 41.2 percent shooting from the floor while forcing an average of 17.2 turnovers per game at home in 2008-09.
Sharing is Caring
Of Northwestern's 483 made field goals this season, the team has assisted on 329 of them or 68.1 percent. That mark ranks third nationally. The Wildcats shared the wealth in their Feb. 4 win over Chicago State, assisting on 24 of 27 made field goals.
Doing It With Defense
The lack of an inside presence hurt Northwestern in many ways last season, including allowing opponents to shoot 48.3 percent from the field, including 39.2 percent from 3-point range. So far this year, the Wildcats' foes have shot a combined 41.7 percent from the field and have committed an average of 16.0 turnovers per game. Northwestern has a +4.52 turnover margin this season. The 36 points scored by DePaul Dec. 6 were the fewest by the Blue Demons in a game since Jan. 29, 1949.
...and Nash Helps Lead the Way
Junior guard Jeremy Nash has played a huge role in Northwestern's defensive resurgance this season. Despite not having started a game this season, he ranks eighth in Big Ten play with an average of 1.50 steals per game. Nash is 13th in all games with 1.24 thefts per contest. Often situated at the top of NU's 1-3-1 zone, he has at least three steals in four out of the last eight games. That includes seven steals in a win over Chicago State Feb. 4, the most by any Big Ten player in a game this season.
Protecting the Rock
Northwestern has handed out 329 assists while committing just 240 turnovers this year for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.37. The mark ranks second in the Big Ten (Illinois, 1.44) and ninth nationally in the category through games played Sunday. The Wildcats ranked third in the country last season with a 1.43 team assist-to-turnover ratio.
Moore Where That Came From
Senior guard Craig Moore became the top 3-point shooter in school history against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Nov. 19, surpassing Vedran Vukusic's (2002-06) previous career record of 212. Moore then surpassed the NU career record for 3-point attempts previously held by Winston Blake (1999-2003) against Butler Nov. 26. He has an outstanding chance to finish in the top five in Big Ten history in both categories. His 286 career makes rank in sixth place in league annals and are 13 shy of Dee Brown of Illinois (2002-06) for fifth place. Moore leads the Big Ten with an average of 3.62 made 3-pointers per game this season. A year ago, Moore set a school single-season record with 97 made 3-pointers.
Current Consecutive Games With A Made
Three-Pointer (through games of 2/9/09)
1. Roge'r Guignard, Texas-Arlington - 53
2. Austin Kenon, Virginia Military - 40
3. Josh Akognon, Cal State Fullerton - 35
4. Craig Moore, Northwestern - 33
Source: STATS, Inc.
The Wildcats return to action at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday as they host Michigan. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.