Feb. 28, 2012
Northwestern (17-11, 7-9 Big Ten) vs. #10/11 Ohio State (23-6, 11-5 Big Ten)
Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 7:30 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network (Gus Johnson and Shon Morris)
Audio: WIND 560 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern closes out the home portion of its 2011-12 season as it squares off against No. 10/11 Ohio State Wednesday evening. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as Senior Night ceremonies commence at 7:15 p.m.
Tip time is set for 7:30 p.m. NU looks to build its postseason resume as it squares off against its eighth ranked opponent of the season. It is Cricket Wireless Night and the first 5,000 fans will receive a purple rally towel courtesy of Cricket Wireless.
The Wildcats will honor John Shurna
, Davide Curletti
, Nick Fruendt
and Luka Mirkovic
in pregame ceremonies. The quartet is the winningest class in program history and has led NU to a school-record three consecutive postseason appearances.
Northwestern is coming off a nail-biting 67-66 win at Penn State Saturday evening. Shurna scored 23 points, including making two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining to give NU the victory. Northwestern connected on 15 of 29 3-point field goal attempts in the contest. Drew Crawford added 13 points, while Alex Marcotullio chipped in with 12.
Last Meeting: Northwestern shot just 32.1 percent from the field in dropping an 87-54 decision to then-No. 2 Ohio State Dec. 28 in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes (23-6, 11-5 Big Ten) are coming off a 63-60 home loss to Wisconsin on Sunday. Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State with 23 points.
Jared Sullinger paces the team with averages of 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest. Thomas and William Buford contribute 15.1 points per game apiece.
Ohio State ranks second in the conference in scoring offense (74.7), scoring defense (57.6), field goal percentage (.483), rebound margin (+6.9) and turnover margin (+4.2).
Thad Matta is in his eighth season as the head coach at Ohio State where he has a 213-63 record. He is 315-94 in 12 overall seasons.
TAKE A LEAP
Northwestern is playing its first game on Leap Day since 1964 when it suffered a 107-97 loss at Michigan State. The Wildcats are 3-4 all-time when playing on Feb. 29.
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 562 so far this year. He is the active Big Ten career leader with 41 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. His scoring average of 20.1 points per game leads the Big Ten and ranks 15th nationally.
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 50 blocks this season are the second most in a single season in school history and his average of 1.8 blocks per game ranks second in the Big Ten. Shurna is also eighth all-time at Northwestern with 279 career assists and he ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 5.4 rebounds per game and 13th with 1.3 steals per contest this season.
Northwestern enters Wednesday's game with a 7-9 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.
STEPPING IN AND STEPPING UP
With key returners JerShon Cobb, Alex Marcotullio and Drew Crawford battling early-season injuries, junior guard/forward Reggie Hearn got the starting nod in NU's season-opener and hasn't relinquished the spot since. The former walk-on scored a career-high 20 points Feb. 5 in a road win at Illinois. Hearn went 7-for-8 from the field in the contest, including making all six tries during his 16-point first-half performance. He followed it up by scoring 16 points in a win over Iowa Feb. 9 and again at Purdue Feb 12. For the season, he is averaging 7.6 points per game while shooting a team-best 52.2 percent from the field, including 41.5 percent from 3-point range.
WILDCATS IN THE RPI RANKINGS
Northwestern is ranked No. 43 nationally in the RPI through games played Sunday. Northwestern has top-75 wins over Michigan State (4), Seton Hall (44), LSU (68) and Illinois (74). The Wildcats have the seventh-best RPI in the Big Ten, trailing Michigan State, Ohio State (9), Michigan (15), Indiana (17), Wisconsin (20) and Purdue (40).
Northwestern concludes its 2011-12 regular season Saturday as it travels to Iowa. Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m.
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