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    Northwestern Heads to Happy Valley in Search of Season Sweep

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Drew Crawford scored a game-high 21 points in the Wildcats' victory over Penn State Jan. 1.

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Drew Crawford scored a game-high 21 points in the Wildcats' victory over Penn State Jan. 1.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Feb. 24, 2012

    Northwestern (16-11, 6-9 Big Ten) at Penn State (12-16, 4-11 Big Ten)
    Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012
    Bryce Jordan Center (15,261)
    University Park, Pa. • 8 p.m. CT
    TV:
    ESPNU (Jim Barbar and David Kaplan)
    Streaming Video: ESPN3.com
    Audio: WIND 560 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
    Gametracker: NUsports.com
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    Skip Myslenski's Preview

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Following a tight overtime loss to No. 11 Michigan on Wednesday, Northwestern aims to get back on track Saturday when it travels to Penn State. Tip time is set for 8 p.m. Central.

     

     

    The Wildcats are continuing to build their postseason resume following a tough 67-55 overtime defeat to the Wolverines. NU led 31-24 at the half, but were unable to hold on as Michigan scored the first nine points of the extra session. John Shurna led Northwestern with 14 points, while Davide Curletti added 12 and Reggie Hearn posted his first collegiate double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

    Saturday's contest features the top two scorers in the Big Ten in both all games played as well as league contests. Shurna paces the conference with 20.0 points per game overall and 20.4 against Big Ten foes. Meanwhile, Penn State's Tim Frazier is averaging 18.5 points overall and 19.7 against conference opponents.

    Last Meeting: Northwestern picked up a 68-56 win Jan. 1 in Evanston behind 21 points from Drew Crawford and 20 from Dave Sobolewski. The Wildcats shot 55 percent from the field to 34 percent for the Nittany Lions.

    SCOUTING PENN STATE
    • The Nittany Lions (12-16, 4-11 Big Ten) haven't played since dropping a 65-55 decision at Wisconsin last Sunday. Tim Frazier led Penn State with 20 points.
    • Frazier paces Penn State and ranks second in the Big Ten with an average of 18.5 points per game and is first with 6.3 assists per contest.
    • Penn State leads the conference with an average of 12.7 offensive rebounds per game.
    • Patrick Chambers is in his first season as the head coach at Penn State. He is 54-44 in three seasons overall as a head coach, including spending the last two years at Boston University.

    CRAWFORD TABBED SECOND-TEAM ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN
    Junior forward Drew Crawford was selected as a Capital One Academic All-American when he was named to the second team Feb. 23. He is the eighth Northwestern men's basketball player to all-time to earn the honor and the first since Kevin Rankin in 1994. Crawford carries a 3.40 grade-point average while majoring in economics. He was one of three Big Ten players to earn Academic All-America honors this season, joining Ohio State's Aaron Craft (first team) and Michigan Zach Novak (third team).

    ALONE AT THE TOP
    Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points had stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility. That was until Feb. 18 when John Shurna hit a 3-pointer with 10:48 remaining in the second half of a home game against Minnesota, giving him 1,902 for his career. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore, 531 points last season as a junior and 539 so far this year. He is the active Big Ten career leader with 40 games of scoring 20 or more points. Shurna has scored at least 30 points in a game three times this season, the most by a Northwestern player since Eschmeyer posted at least 30 points five times during the 1997-98 campaign.

    MORE THAN JUST A SCORER
    For all of the recognition that John Shurna gets for his scoring, he has proven that he's a solid all-around player as well. Shurna currently ranks third in school history with 126 blocked shots, including a career-high five against Minnesota Feb. 18. His 45 blocks this season are tied for the third most in a single season in school history and his average of 1.6 blocks per game ranks third in the Big Ten. Shurna is also eighth all-time at Northwestern with 273 career assists and he ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 5.6 rebounds per game and 15th with 1.2 steals per contest this season.

    CLOSE CALLS
    Northwestern enters Saturday's game with a 6-9 Big Ten record, but isn't far away from being much better. The 'Cats have lost four of their league games by a total of 10 points, falling to Illinois at home by one, at Michigan and at home vs. Purdue by two apiece and at Indiana by five. In addition to the loss at Michigan in overtime, the Wildcats also fell to the Wolverines at home in overtime.

    WILDCATS IN THE RPI RANKINGS
    Northwestern is ranked No. 46 nationally in the RPI through games played Thursday. Northwestern has top-75 wins over Michigan State (3), Seton Hall (31), LSU (62) and Illinois (63). NU has the sixth-best RPI in the Big Ten, trailing Michigan State, Ohio State (7), Michigan (10), Indiana (18) and Wisconsin (28).

    HELPING HAND
    Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats rank second in the nation with a 1.49 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU ranks sixth in the country with an average of just 10.4 turnovers per contest. Northwestern is assisting on 64.2 percent of its made field goals, the ninth-highest percentage nationally.

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern wraps up its 2011-12 regular season home slate next Wednesday as it takes on Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. NU will recognize the members of its senior class in pregame ceremonies with tip time slated for 7:30 p.m.

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