Feb. 13, 2013
Ohio State Game Previews: Carmody | Hearn | Abrahamson
Skip Myslenski's Preview
The Last Meeting
|#10/11 Ohio State||75
February 29, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern concludes of stretch of four road games over a five-game span on Thursday as it travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 13/14 Ohio State. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Central time.
The Wildcats follow up Thursday's contest by playing four of its next five at home prior to completing the regular season at Michigan State.
NU suffered a 71-57 loss at Iowa in its most recent contest last Saturday. The 'Cats trailed by only two six minutes into the second half before injuries to starters Jared Swopshire and Alex Olah left Northwestern short-handed down the stretch. Reggie Hearn led the Wildcats with 13 points.
Thursday's matchup features two of the top assist men in the Big Ten as Aaron Craft ranks second with an average of 4.4 per game while Dave Sobolewski is fourth at 4.2.
Last Season: Northwestern dropped both meetings to Ohio State a year ago, falling 87-54 in Columbus Dec. 28 before losing a nail-biter 75-73 in Evanston Feb. 29.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes (17-6, 7-4) suffered a 81-68 home loss to Indiana on Sunday. Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State with 26 points and seven rebounds.
Thomas paces the Big Ten with an average of 20.1 points per game, while leading the team with 6.1 rebounds per contest. Aaron Craft is second in the league with a norm of 4.4 assists per game.
Thad Matta is in his ninth season as head coach at Ohio State where he has a 238-71 record. He has a 340-102 career record in 13 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 ninth in the Big Ten with a scoring average of 14.2 points per game and 15th with a .483 field goal percentage.
TAKING A HIT
Northwestern endured yet another season-ending injury when Jared Swopshire hurt his right knee at Iowa on Feb. 9 and then went arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 12 that ended his campaign. Swopshire joins a growing list of Wildcats who have been lost for the season including Drew Crawford (shoulder), JerShon Cobb (violations of team policy), Sanjay Lumpkin (wrist) and Chier Ajou (knee). Alex Olah will also not play Thursday night due to an upper body injury suffered against Iowa.
Jared Swopshire was playing his best ball of the season at the time of his injury. In the five contests prior to his injury at Iowa Feb. 9, he was averaging 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Northwestern was 9-3 this season when Swopshire scored in double figures. 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. His average of 6.7 rebounds per game is the highest by an NU player since Eschmeyer averaged 10.1 per game in 1998-99. Swopshire's average of 7.5 rebounds per game in Big Ten play ranks fifth in the league. He spent the first four seasons at Louisville, appearing in 109 contests. 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 62.1 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .415 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 4.2 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 seventh in the nation so far this year with a 1.42 ratio (363 assists, 256 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. Northwestern ranks second in the country with a .701 assist percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
NU is committing an average of just 10.7 turnovers per game, ranking eighth 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.
Northwestern returns home to take on Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The contest is being televised by Big Ten Network.
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