Feb. 23, 2013
Purdue Game Previews: Carmody | Sobolewski | Marcotullio | Demps
The Last Meeting
February 2, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern goes out in search of a season sweep of Purdue on Sunday as the teams square off at Mackey Arena. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. Central time.
The contest is being televised by Big Ten Network and can be heard at 560 AM WIND and online at wgnradio.com.
The Wildcats shot a season-best 53.1 percent from the field when the teams met up in Evanston on Feb. 2, a contest that resulted in a 75-60 victory for NU. Northwestern open the game by scoring the first 12 points and Fort Wayne native Reggie Hearn made each of his first nine field goal attempts in scoring 21 of his his career-high 26 points in the first half.
NU is looking to bounce back from a 69-41 home loss to No. 19/17 Wisconsin on Thursday. Hearn scored a game-high 13 points, but the 'Cats shot just 20 percent from the field in the opening half in digging themselves a deficit that they couldn't overcome.
The series between Northwestern and Purdue has been evenly played over the last decade as the Boilermakers hold a miniscule 10-9 edge over the last 19 meetings dating back to the 2001-02 season. NU's win earlier this season snapped a string of four straight wins by the Purdue in the series.
The Boilermakers (12-14, 5-8) have been off since dropping an 83-55 decision at Indiana last Saturday, Feb. 16. Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson led Purdue with 11 points apiece.
Terone Johnson leads the team with an average of 12.9 points per game while freshman A.J. Hammons contributes 11.0 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per contest.
Matt Painter is in his eighth season as head coach at Purdue where he has a 172-91 record. He has a 197-96 career record in nine 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 13.9 points per game and leads the team with a .463 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 also missed Thursday game at Ohio State due to an upper body injury suffered against Iowa.
|Watch: Marcotullio Previews Purdue Game|
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 62.6 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .419 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 4.0 assists per game ranks fifth 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.
THE BIGS CAN DISH IT TOO
It's not only the guards in the Northwestern lineup who can set up their teammates. Mike Turner's eight assists at Ohio State Feb. 14 are tied for the fifth most in the nation this season by any player 6'8" or taller. Also, Alex Olah leads all players in the nation 7'0" or taller with an average of 2.0 assists per game.
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 11th in the nation so far this year with a 1.40 ratio (400 assists, 285 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. Northwestern ranks second in the country with a .704 assist percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
NU is committing an average of just 10.6 turnovers per game, ranking seventh 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 9-2 when they make at least eight shots from behind the arch.
Northwestern returns to action at 6 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
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