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    Regular Season Draws to a Close Saturday as NU Travels to Iowa

    Drew Crawford scored 23 points in Wednesday's contest against Ohio State.

    Drew Crawford scored 23 points in Wednesday's contest against Ohio State.

    March 2, 2012

    Northwestern (17-12, 7-10 Big Ten) at Iowa (16-14, 8-9 Big Ten)
    Saturday, March 3, 2012
    Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500)
    Iowa City, Iowa • 1:30 p.m.
    Big Ten Network (Wayne Larrivee and Jim Jackson)
    Audio: WGN 720 AM and (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle); WNUR 89.3 FM and
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    Skip Myslenski Preview

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern finishes up its regular season Saturday as it travels to Iowa in search of a critical win. Tip time is 1:30 p.m. with Big Ten Network providing live television coverage.

    The Wildcats go into the contest one game behind the Hawkeyes in the conference standings. The winner of the matchup will be the No. 7 seed for next week's Big Ten tournament and will face the 10 seed in Thursday's opening round, while the loser faces Illinois in the 8 vs. 9 game.



    NU is coming off yet another narrow loss--their fifth Big Ten defeat by five points or less--falling 75-73 at home to No. 10 Ohio State on Wednesday. Alex Marcotullio's 3-pointer with 7.7 seconds left tied the game, helping rally the Wildcats from 12 points down with under six minutes remaining. However, Jared Sullinger hit the game-winning field goal with 3.1 seconds to go. Drew Crawford led the 'Cats with 23 points.

    Last Meeting: Northwestern hit 13 3-pointers and forced 18 Iowa turnovers in cruising to an 83-64 win Feb. 9 in Evanston. All five NU starters scored in double figures led by Dave Sobolewski who scored a career-high 23 points to go along with seven assists. It was Northwestern's fifth win in its last six meetings with Iowa.

    • The Hawkeyes (16-14, 8-9 Big Ten) are coming off a 62-53 win at Nebraska on Wednesday. Matt Gatens led Iowa with 16 points.
    • Gatens paces the team with an average of 15.7 points per contest. Freshman Aaron White contributes 10.3 points and a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game.
    • Iowa leads the Big Ten with an average of 7.7 steals per game and is third with an average of 72.3 points per contest.
    • Fran McCafferey is in his second season as the head coach at Iowa where he has a 27-34 record. He is 278-211 in 16 overall seasons.

    Entering the final game of conference play, John Shurna holds a nine-point lead over Penn State's Tim Frazier for the top spot in the Big Ten scoring race. The Big Ten considers its scoring champion to be its leader in scoring average in league play. Northwestern has not had an individual lead the Big Ten in scoring since Ray Ragelis in 1951. Two years ago, Shurna finished merely one point shy of surpassing Ohio State's Evan Turner for the scoring crown.

    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 584 so far this year. He is the active Big Ten career leader with 42 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.

    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 1.7 blocks per game ranks second in the Big Ten. Shurna is also eighth all-time at Northwestern with 282 career assists and he ranks 12th in the Big Ten with an average of 5.3 rebounds per game and 15th with 1.2 steals per contest this season.

    Northwestern enters Saturday's game with a 7-10 Big Ten record, but isn't far away from being much better. The 'Cats have lost five of their league games by a total of 12 points, while another went to overtime.
    Date - Opponent - Result
    1/4 - Illinois - L, 57-56
    1/11 - at #13 Michigan - L, 66-64 (OT)
    1/28 - Purdue - L, 58-56
    2/15 - at #18 Indiana - L, 71-66
    2/21 - #11 Michigan - L, 67-55 (OT)
    2/29 - #10 Ohio State - L, 75-73

    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).

    Northwestern is ranked No. 46 nationally in the RPI through games played Thursday. Northwestern has top-100 wins over Michigan State (4), Seton Hall (42), Illinois (75), LSU (78) and Minnesota (85). The Wildcats have the seventh-best RPI in the Big Ten, trailing Michigan State, Ohio State (8), Michigan (13), Indiana (14), Wisconsin (21) and Purdue (41).

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern opens up play at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis next Thursday. Game time and the Wildcats' opponent is to be determined. Check on Sunday for the tournament bracket.


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