Feb. 11, 2012
Northwestern (15-8, 5-6 Big Ten) at Purdue (15-9, 5-6 Big Ten)
Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012
Mackey Arena (14,240)
West Lafayette, Ind. 5 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network (Gus Johnson and Dan Bonner)
Audio: WGN 720 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Shon Morris)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern aims to extend its winning streak to four games Sunday as it travels to Purdue. Tip-off from Mackey Arena is set for 5 p.m. Central time.
The Wildcats are looking to avenge a two-point home loss to the Boilermakers 15 days ago in Evanston.
After avenging their only other conference home loss this season when they won at Illinois last Sunday, the 'Cats cruised to an 83-64 home win over Iowa on Thursday. All five NU starters scored in double figures, paced by freshman Dave Sobolewski who posted a career-high 23 points to go along with seven assists and four steals. Northwestern shot over 55 percent from the field for the second consecutive contest as it hit on 56.3 percent of its attempts, including going 13-for-25 from 3-point range.
Sunday's matchup features two of the nation's top teams in assist-to-turnover ratio. Northwestern is first with a 1.57 mark, while Purdue ranks fifth at 1.46. Both teams rank in the top three nationally in fewest turnovers per game.
First Meeting: Robbie Hummel's baseline jumper with 8.1 seconds remaining gave Purdue a 58-56 win over Northwestern Jan. 18 in Evanston. Drew Crawford led Northwestern with 23 points.
The Boilermakers (15-9, 5-6 Big Ten) have dropped four of their last five, including a tight 87-84 decision at No. 3 Ohio State on Tuesday. D.J. Byrd led Purdue with 24 points.
Robbie Hummel paces the team with averages of 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Purdue ranks second in the Big Ten with a +5.0 turnover margin and a 1.46 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Matt Painter is in his seventh season as the head coach at Purdue where he has a 153-73 record. He is 178-78 in eight seasons overall as a head coach.
RIDING A HOT STREAK
Northwestern has beeing getting the job done on the offensive end during its current three-game winning streak. During that span, the Wildcats are averaging 80.3 points per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field, including 46.1 percent from 3-point range. Four different NU players are averaging at least 15 points per game during the stretch: John Shurna (23.0), Dave Sobolewski (17.3), Reggie Hearn (15.0) and Drew Crawford (15.0). The win streak has coincided with Northwestern going with a starting lineup of Sobolewski, Hearn, Crawford, Shurna and Alex Marcotullio.
SHURNA, SOBOLEWSKI EARN BIG TEN WEEKLY HONORS
John Shurna and Dave Sobolewski were honored Feb. 6 by being named Big Ten Player of the Week and Big Ten Freshman of the Week, respectively, after leading the Wildcats to wins over Nebraska and Illinois. Shurna averaged 26 points per game and shot 71.4 percent from the field to earn the fifth such honor of his career and his first of the season. Sobolewski posted norms of 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in the Wildcats' two wins.
BACK IN BLACK
The Wildcats have donned alternate black uniforms twice so far this season and have come away with victories both times. NU first wore the uniforms at home Jan. 14 against No. 6 Michigan State and the 'Cats posted an 81-74 upset victory. Northwestern wore them again on the road Feb. 5 at Illinois and earned a 74-70 win.
STEPPING IN AND STEPPING UP
With key returners JerShon Cobb, Alex Marcotullio and Drew Crawford battling early-season injuries, junior guard/forward Reggie Hearn got the starting nod in NU's season-opener and hasn't relinquished the spot since. The former walk-on scored a career-high 20 points Feb. 5 in a road win at Illinois. Hearn went 7-for-8 from the field in the contest, including making all six tries during his 16-point first-half performance. He followed it up by scoring 16 points in a win over Iowa Feb. 9. For the season, he is averaging 7.2 points per game while shooting a team-best 52.9 percent from the field, including 42.9 percent from 3-point range.
CRAWFORD EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT RECOGNITION
Junior forward Drew Crawford was selected to the Capital One Academic All-District 5 team selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Feb. 2. By virtue of the honor, he is now eligible for Academic All-America recognition. It is the second straight season that Crawford has earned the All-District honor. He carries a 3.40 grade-point average while majoring in economics.
STRIKING DOWN THE SPARTANS
Northwestern's victory over No. 6 Michigan State on Jan. 14 ranks as a tie for the highest ranked opponent that the Wildcats have beaten in Bill Carmody's 12 seasons as head coach. (The victory snapped the Spartans' 15-game winning streak.) Purdue was also ranked No. 6 when the 'Cats beat them 72-64 in Evanston Jan. 16, 2010. MSU was ranked No. 7 when the 'Cats posted a 70-63 win over the Spartans in East Lansing Jan. 21, 2009.
SHOOTING FOR THE TOP
Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points has stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility. John Shurna is currently in second place on NU's career scoring list with 1,825 career points. He surpassed Evan Eschmeyer for second place Feb. 5 with a 24-point performance in a victory at Illinois. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore and 531 points last season as a junior. He is the active Big Ten career leader with 38 games of scoring 20 or more points.
Nation's Scoring Leaders from BCS Conferences (through 2/9)
Name, Team - Avg.
1. Terrell Stoglin, Maryland - 22.0
2. Kevin Jones, West Virginia - 20.6
3. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt - 19.7
4. J'Covan Brown, Texas - 19.6
5. John Shurna, Northwestern - 19.5
WILDCATS IN THE RPI RANKINGS
Northwestern is ranked No. 37 nationally in the RPI through games played Thursday. Northwestern has top-50 wins over Michigan State (7), Seton Hall (33) and Illinois (38). NU has the sixth-best RPI in the Big Ten, trailing Ohio State (5), Michigan State, Michigan (15), Indiana (16) and Wisconsin (27).
Northwestern enters Sunday's game with a 5-6 Big Ten record, but isn't far away from being much better. The 'Cats have lost three of their league games by a total of five points, falling to Illinois at home by one as well as at Michigan and at home vs. Purdue by two apiece.
A CHALLENGING STRETCH
From Dec. 22 through Jan. 22, Northwestern played seven games over an eight-game stretch against teams that were ranked, were receiving votes or the game was played on the road. This is the fourth consecutive season that NU has played three ranked teams among its first five conference games. Northwestern has the nation's 12th-highest strength of schedule to date.
John Shurna ranks first in the Big Ten with an average of 2.7 3-point field goals per game. He tied a Northwestern record and was one shy of the Big Ten record when he knocked down nine 3-pointers in the Wildcats' win over Eastern Illinois Dec. 18. The nine triples tied Craig Moore's record established Nov. 22, 2008 at Brown. Shurna went 9-for-12 from beyond the arc in the contest and scored 32 points, marking his fifth career game scoring 30 or more points in a contest.
Three-Pointers Made, Division I Players 6-9 or taller (through 2/9)
Name, Team (Ht.) - 3FG
1. John Shurna, Northwestern (6-9) - 61
2. Robert Covington, Tenn. State (6-9) - 50
3. Josh Ritchart, UC Davis (6-9) - 49
4. Drew Windler, Samford (6-9) - 47
BOMBS AWAY!, PART 2
Northwestern leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh nationally with an average of 8.9 3-point makes per game. The Wildcats are 10-1 this season when making at least nine triples in a game. NU scorched the nets for 20 3-point field goals in its 92-67 win over Mississippi Valley State Dec. 2. The mark tied the school and Big Ten record for 3-pointers in a game, matching Northwestern's total against North Carolina A&T Dec. 13, 2009. NU assisted on 30 of its 34 field goals in the contest with the 30 helpers ranking as a tie for second in school history, two shy of the top mark and tied for the most against a Division I opponent.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats rank first in the nation with a 1.57 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU ranks third in the country with an average of just 10.2 turnovers per contest. Northwestern is assisting on 66.1 percent of its made field goals, the fourth-highest percentage nationally.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The Wildcats had some big shoes to fill in the backcourt with the graduation of Michael Thompson. A four-year starter, Thompson completed his career at NU's all-time leader in games played, games started, minutes played and assists, while ranking third all-time in scoring. Freshman Dave Sobolewski has stepped in valiantly in his stead. Through 23 games, all starts, Sobolewski is averaging 9.0 points and 4.0 assists per game and has committed just 28 turnovers in 812 minutes of action to go along with 91 assists. He scored a collegiate-best 23 points in a victory over Iowa Feb. 9. Sobolewski posted a career-high eight assists with no turnovers Dec. 22 at No. 23/21 Creighton. He was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week Feb. 6 for his efforts in wins over Nebraska and Illinois.
Nation's Assist-to-Turnover Ratio Leaders
(min. 3.0 assists/game; through 2/9)
1. Kendall Marshall -- North Carolina, So. - 3.39
2. Dave Sobolewski -- Northwestern, Fr. - 3.25
3. Randy Davis -- Ball State, Sr. - 3.21
4. Jerian Grant -- Notre Dame, So. - 3.14
We're not sure which one is Batman and which one is Robin, but senior John Shurna and junior Drew Crawford have already shown that they form a pretty formidable 1-2 punch. Shurna leads the Big Ten with an average of 19.5 points per game, while Crawford is the Big Ten's fourth-leading scorer with a norm of 16.9 points per contest.
Northwestern returns to action Wednesday as it returns to the state of Indiana, trekking to Bloomington to take on Indiana. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. Central time with Big Ten Network providing television coverage.
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