Feb. 20, 2007
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Feb. 21, 2007 -- 7 p.m. CT
Northwestern (12-14, 2-11) vs. Texas-Pan American (13-12)
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Radio -- WGN 720 AM (Dave Eanet and Dave Kaplan) and WNUR 89.3 FM
Television -- none
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern returns to the hardwood Wednesday when the Wildcats welcome the Texas-Pan American Broncs to Welsh-Ryan Arena. This is the final nonconference game of the season for NU which wraps up the regular season with Purdue twice and a home date with Indiana in between.
Northwestern found itself on the short end of two close road defeats last week at Iowa and Illinois. The 'Cats had opportunities to win both, but cold shooting in both games ultimately did them in despite two great defensive efforts.
The Broncs are a Division-I Independent school located in Edinburg, Texas. They are coming off a 74-63 loss to North Dakota State at home last Saturday. Kano Edwards scored a game-high 24 points for the Broncs.
This will be the third meeting in the last nine years between the two teams.
'Cats Enjoy Best Nonconference Season in 13 Years
With a win Wednesday night, Northwestern can set a school record for nonconference wins in a season with 11. The 10-3 (.769) mark before Big Ten play was the best record since the Wildcats went 9-0 to open the season in 1993-94. That year the Wildcats advanced to the NIT where they defeated DePaul in the opening round before falling to Xavier in the second round--giving them a 10-1 (.909) nonconference mark. This year Northwestern posted 10 wins before Big Ten play for the first time in school history.
About The BroncsThe Broncs are an independent program under the direction of first-year head coach Tom Schuberth. They are 13-12 entering Wednesday's game with the Wildcats.
Assistant coach Ben Johnson is no stranger to Evanston or the Big Ten. He played for the Wildcats during the 2000-01 seasons, leading the Wildcats in scoring during his freshman campaign before finishing his playing career at Minnesota.
Texas-Pan American is led by Brian Burrell's 15.8 ppg. Colin Lien is the Broncs' leading windex man with 6.2 rebounds and is second with 11.6 points.
Wednesday marks the third meeting between the two schools with NU winning both games. They first met in 1999 (76-47) and again in 2004 (56-48).
Tom Schuberth is in his first season at Texas-Pan American. Prior to coming to the Rio Grande Valley, Schuberth spent four seasons at the University of Central Florida as an associate head coach where the Golden Knights recorded an 84-41 record during his tenure. The Golden Knights earned a pair of berths to the NCAA Tournament while winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship twice along with one Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. He also enjoyed coaching stints at Southeast Missouri State, Memphis and Louisiana-Monroe.
Coble Among Top NU Freshmen
With his 12.6 ppg average, Kevin Coble is on pace to become just the fifth true-freshman to lead the Wildcats in scoring since the 1972-73 season when freshmen became eligible for varsity competition. Ben Johnson was the last Wildcat to do it in 2000 when he averaged 11.6 ppg. Cedric Neloms also did it in 1992 with 14.4 ppg, Jim Stack in 1980 with 12.9 and Billy McKinney--Northwestern's all-time leading scorer--with 15.8 ppg in 1974.
Coble is one of the leading candidates for Big Ten All-Freshman honors. He is averaging 14.5 points over the last six games. He has scored in double-figures 16 times and has four games with 20 or more points. Among conference newcomers, he ranks third in scoring (12.6) and rebounding (5.1), fourth in FG percentage (.498) and third in 3FG percentage (.374). Is seventh in the Big Ten overall in FG percentage and 15th in scoring. His perfect 5-of-5 shooting performance from behind the arc against Utah in December is tied for the best 3FG shooting performance in the Big Ten this season among all players. He averaged 20.3 ppg in three games at the San Juan Shootout and was named to the all-tournament team for his efforts. Before an ankle injury, Coble averaged just 5.7 points and shot 27 percent in his first three league games against Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.
With 14 points and 11 rebounds in the road loss to Iowa, Kevin Coble became the first Wildcat since Jitim Young in 2003 to record back-to-back double-doubles. He had 16 points and 10 boards against the Nittany Lions on Feb. 10. Young had 23 and 12 against Indiana on Feb. 5, 2003, and 25 and 10 three days later against Wisconsin. He almost pulled the trifecta with 12 points and nine rebounds the next game against Purdue.
In the 66-58 loss at Iowa Feb. 15, NU had its chances to notch a last-minute comeback, but misses from both the foul line and the field cost the Wildcats. Iowa hit key free throws down the stretch, stiffened on defense and never let Northwestern get any closer than three points. Tim Doyle led Northwestern with 17 points and Kevin Coble added his second-straight double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. In the loss at Illinois on Sunday the Wildcats turned in one of their better defensive efforts, holding the Illini to 48 points--18 below their average. They recorded eight steals and forced 14 turnovers. However, their offense struggled in the 48-37 loss. Doyle and Coble each scored nine points to lead the Wildcats who managed only 15 points in the second half. NU trailed by just one at halftime and took a two-point lead right out of the half when Coble drilled a 3-pointer out of the corner. But the Wildcats made only 5-of-22 shots from the field after that.
Doyle On Record-Setting Pace
With 129 assists, senior Tim Doyle is on pace to break Northwestern's single-season record for assists which currently stands at 154 (Patrick Baldwin, 1994). With his 5.0 apg average, he is on pace to at least tie that mark. Last year he became just the sixth player in Northwestern history to record at least 200 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in the same season. He needs 14 rebounds to duplicate that feat again this season.
'Cats Rank Second in NCAA's in Assist/FG Ratio
Northwestern is ranked No. 2 among all Division I teams in assist-to-field goal ratio, according to the latest statistical release Feb. 18. The Wildcats have assisted on 388-of-545 makes (.711), more than 70 percent of their baskets.
Northwestern In The NCAA Ranks
According to the latest NCAA Division I statistical report released Feb. 18, Northwestern ranks No. 8 nationally scoring defense, giving up just 57.2 ppg. They also are fifth in fewest turnovers per game (11.0) and sixth with only 14.5 personal fouls. Its 8.5 steals per game is good for 37th.