Feb. 18, 2014
Skip Myslenski's Preview
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern faces its eighth ranked opponent of the Big Ten season Wednesday as it travels to Columbus to face No. 24/23 Ohio State. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Central time. It is the lone regular-season meeting between the teams this season.
The Wildcats have already had a great deal of success on the road in Big Ten play this season in places where it is traditionally difficult to win. NU notched a 54-47 win at Indiana Jan. 18, a 65-56 victory at Wisconsin Jan. 29 and a 55-54 triumph at Minnesota Feb. 1.
The 'Cats are looking to bounce back from a 54-48 home loss to Minnesota on Sunday. JerShon Cobb paced all scorers with 23 points for Northwestern, including knocking down five of seven 3-point field goal attempts. The Wildcats forced a season-high 17 turnovers in the contest but couldn't overcome 30.2 percent shooting.
Last Meeting: Northwestern rallied back from a 12-point deficit to take the lead, but No. 16/15 Ohio State finished the game on a 15-4 run to earn a 63-53 victory Feb. 28, 2013 in Evanston.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes are coming off a 48-39 victory at Illinois on Saturday, the team's fourth win in its last five games. Aaron Craft scored a game-high 14 points for OSU.
LaQuinton Ross lead the team with an average of 14.4 points per game. Amir Williams ranks first in the Big Ten with a .604 field goal percentage while Craft is first with an average of 2.5 steals per game.
Thad Matta is in his 10th season as the head coach at Ohio State where he has a 270-79 record. He has a career record of 372-110 in 14 seasons overall as a head coach.
COBB HEATS UP
JerShon Cobb carried the Wildcats' offense last week. In contests at Michigan State (22 points) and at home vs. Minnesota (23 points), Cobb averaged 22.5 points per game while shooting 55.6 percent overall from the field (15-27) and from 3-point range (10-18). He knocked down a career-best five 3-pointers in each of the two contests.
CRAWFORD CLIMBS 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 136 games played to date surpassed the previous record of 130 held by John Shurna (2009-12), while his 135 starts bested the previous mark of 129 held by Michael Thompson (2008-11).
Crawford's Northwestern Career Ranks:
Games Played: 1st--136
Games Started: 1st--135
Minutes Played: 2nd--4,359
Field Goals: 3rd--653
Field Goal Attempts: 3rd--1,490
3-Point Field Goals: 4th--218
3-Point Field Goal Attempts: 5th--620
Blocked Shots: 6th--95
LOCKING DOWN ON DEFENSE
Northwestern's defense has keyed the team's revival. Dating back to Jan. 12, the Wildcats have held their foes to a combined 37.8 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.
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.
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.
Drew Crawford is the Big Ten's active leading scorer with 1,809 career points. The total ranks third in school history and is 91 points shy of Billy McKinney (1974-77) for second place. Crawford ranks 17th 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 on Jan. 8, 2006. Crawford ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring (16.2 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (6.7 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) - 2,863 - 1,020 - 241
Torrey Craig (USC Upstate) - 2,017 - 908 - 285
Drew Crawford (Northwestern) - 1,809 - 679 - 218
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 10.8 points per game, including scoring in double figures 16 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. 17)
Name (Team) - Avg.
Jason Calliste (Oregon) - 12.5
Tre Demps (Northwestern) - 10.7
Zach LaVine (UCLA) - 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 home Saturday to take on Indiana at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:15 p.m.
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