Feb. 12, 2014
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern seeks a fourth straight Big Ten road win Thursday as it travels to East Lansing to face Michigan State. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Central time.
The 'Cats have beaten Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road consecutively heading into Thursday's matchup with the Spartans.
NU had won four of its last five before suffering a 53-49 home loss to Nebraska on Saturday. JerShon Cobb paced the 'Cats with 14 points while Drew Crawford added 13.
Though Michigan State has won three of the last four meetings with Northwestern in East Lansing, all of the contests have been close. Following a 70-63 win by NU on Jan. 21, 2009, MSU won 79-70 the next year before rallying to win 71-67 in overtime Jan. 15, 2011. The teams were tied with under six minutes left a year ago before the Spartans earned a 71-61 win.
Last Meeting: Northwestern trailed by only five with 10 minutes left before the Spartans finished the game on a 14-5 run to post a 54-40 win Jan. 15 in Evanston.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE
The Spartans dropped a tight 60-58 decision at Wisconsin on Sunday. Adreian Payne scored a game-high 24 points for Michigan State.
Gary Harris paces the team with an average of 17.6 points per game. Payne, who recently returned from injury, contributes 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest.
MSU leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (.386) and assists per game (17.2).
Tom Izzo is in his 19th season as head coach at Michigan State where he has a 459-182 record.
Northwestern has already racked up a number of impressive Big Ten road wins in some places where it's difficult to succeed. The 'Cats posted a 54-47 victory at Indiana's hallowed Assembly Hall Jan. 18 before notching a 65-56 win at Wisconsin's Kohl Center Jan. 29. The Badgers' home loss was just their 20th in Bo Ryan's 13 seasons at the helm, including only the 13th by a Big Ten team. UW had been 68-4 vs. unranked league foes under Ryan. The 'Cats followed up the win in Madison with a 55-54 victory at Minnesota three days later, NU's first win in Minneapolis since 2007.
CRAWFORD EARNS WEEKLY HONORS
Drew Crawford earned multiple honors for his efforts in Northwestern's victories at Wisconsin and Minnesota. After averaging 23.5 points and 6.5 points per game while shooting 66.7 percent (16-24) from the field, Crawford was named the USBWA's Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, Athlon Sports National Player of the Week and Big Ten Co-Player of the Week. He is the second Big Ten player this season to earn the USBWA's recognition, joining Michigan's Nik Stauskas.
CRAWFORD TOPS NU RECORDBOOK
When Drew Crawford got the starting nod against Iowa Jan. 25 he became Northwestern's career leader in both games played and games started. Crawford's 134 games played to date surpassed the previous record of 130 held by John Shurna (2009-12), while his 133 starts bested the previous mark of 129 held by Michael Thompson (2008-11).
Crawford's Northwestern Career Ranks:
Games Played: 1st--134
Games Started: 1st--133
Field Goals: 3rd--641
Field Goal Attempts: 3rd--1,445
3-Point Field Goals: 4th--214
3-Point Field Goal Attempts: 5th--602
Blocked Shots: 6th--93
LOCKING DOWN ON DEFENSE
Northwestern's defense has keyed the teams revival over the last eight games. During that span dating back to Jan. 12, the Wildcats have held their foes to a combined 34.8 percent shooting. Indiana shot just 25.0 percent (15-60) in NU's 54-47 win Jan. 18. The mark was the lowest by a Northwestern Big Ten opponent since Michigan shot 22.2 percent in a 58-34 victory by the Wildcats on Feb. 4, 1999. Illinois' 43 points on Jan. 12 were the fewest by an NU conference foe since Minnesota in a 55-40 loss to the 'Cats on Jan. 20, 2007. Michigan State's 54 points on Jan. 15 were a season-low for the Spartans. Wisconsin's .263 field goal percentage Jan. 29 was its fourth-lowest in Bo Ryan's 13 seasons as head coach and its second-lowest in a home game (.222 vs. North Dakota State, 1/21/06). Over the last 30 years, this is the first time that Northwestern has held four Big Ten opponents (Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin) below 30 percent shooting in a game.
Drew Crawford is the Big Ten's active leading scorer with 1,789 career points. The total ranks fourth in school history and is 16 points shy of Evan Eschmeyer (1995-99) for third place. Crawford ranks 15th nationally among all active Division I players. His 30-point performance at Wisconsin Jan. 29 marked a season high and was the highest point total by a Big Ten player at Kohl Center since Shannon Brown of Michigan State scored 31 Jan. 8, 2006. Crawford ranks ninth in the Big Ten in scoring (16.1 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (6.8 rpg). He is the only Big Ten player to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding.
Active Division I Players with 1,700+ Points, 600+ Rebounds, 200+ 3-Point Field Goals
Name (Team) - Pts. - Reb. - 3-pt FG
Doug McDermott (Creighton) - 2,798 - 1,008 - 234
Torrey Craig (USC Upstate) - 1,981 - 888 - 283
Drew Crawford (Northwestern) - 1,789 - 664 - 216
Redshirt sophomore guard Tre Demps stepped up when the Wildcats needed him in each of their Big Ten victories. With the game tied and seven minutes remaining against Illinois Jan. 12, Demps nailed three consecutive 3-pointers during a 9-2 run that led the 'Cats to the win. Six days later, NU trailed Indiana by three with seven minutes to go when Demps scored the Wildcats' next 13 points during a 13-4 run that keyed another victory. Against Purdue on Jan. 21, Demps scored 11 of his 19 points in the final 3:11 of regulation or the two overtime sessions, including hitting game-tying 3-pointers with 3:11 to go in the second half and 1:36 to go in the first OT. He tallied seven of his 10 points during a decisive 30-9 second-half run that turned a six-point deficit into a 15-point lead at Wisconsin Jan. 29. Three days later with the game at Minnesota tied 52-52, Demps' 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining were the decisive points in a 55-54 NU victory.
BOOST OFF THE BENCH
Tre Demps has provided Northwestern with some scoring punch off the bench so far this season. The redshirt sophomore is averaging 10.5 points per game, including scoring in double figures 15 times. Demps posted a career-best 23-point performance against DePaul Dec. 27. The point total was the highest in a game by a Northwestern player off the bench since Cedric Neloms scored 25 vs. Ohio State on Feb. 10, 1993.
Major Conference Scoring Leaders Among Players Who Have Not Made a Start This Season
(courtesy STATS Inc.--through games Feb. 11)
Name (Team) - Avg.
Ian Miller (Florida State) - 12.7
Jason Calliste (Oregon) - 12.4
Phil Forte (Oklahoma State) - 12.2
Brady Heslip (Baylor) - 11.3
Zach LaVine (UCLA) - 11.1
Tre Demps (Northwestern) - 10.5
TURNING IT AROUND
Northwestern's 36-point turnaround (-27, +9) between games with Wisconsin marks the Wildcats' largest turnaround between losing the first meeting of the season and winning the second since a 39-point change vs. Illinois (-28, +11) in 1994. The change vs. Wisconsin is the fifth-largest in NU's favor in school history but the largest in which the 'Cats lost the first meeting at home then won on the road.
Largest Season Turnarounds in School History
49 vs. Michigan, 1977 (-37, +12)
43 vs. Michigan State, 1952 (-33, +10)
39 vs. Iowa, 1985 (-19, +20)
39 vs. Illinois, 1994 (-28, +11)
36 vs. Wisconsin, 2014 (-27, +9)
DUO NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT
Graduate student Drew Crawford and junior Dave Sobolewski were both honored Jan. 30 by being named CoSIDA Academic All-District selections. By virtue of the recognition, they are eligibile for Academic All-America honors. The All-District selection is the second for Crawford in his career. He also earned the honor in 2012 when he went on to be named to the Academic All-America Second Team. Crawford earned his bachelor's degree in economics and is currently working toward his master's in sports administration. Sobolewski is an economics major.
Northwestern returns to action Sunday as it hosts Minnesota at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. with Big Ten Network providing live television coverage.
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