March 6, 2013
Penn State Previews: Marcotullio | Hearn
The Last Meeting
January 10, 2013
University Park, Pa.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern wraps up its 2012-13 home season on Thursday as it takes on Penn State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats will honor Reggie Hearn, Alex Marcotullio and Jared Swopshire in pregame ceremonies beginning at approximately 5:40 p.m.
The game is being televised by ESPNU and can also be seen via WatchESPN. The contest can also be heard on 720 AM WGN and wgnradio.com.
Marcotullio is third in school history with 125 games played--trailing only John Shurna and Michael Thompson--while also ranking eighth in NU annals with 147 3-pointers. Hearn, a former walk-on, played a total of 72 minutes his first two seasons while averaging 0.8 points per game. He has started every game he has appeared in over the last two years while averaging 10.2 points per contest. Swopshire averaged 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season--his only one at NU--before suffering a season-ending injury Feb. 9.
First meeting: A 25-4 first-half run spanning over 11 minutes lifted Northwestern to a 70-54 victory at Penn State Jan. 10. Dave Sobolewski led four 'Cats in double figures with 18 points.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions (9-19, 1-15) suffered a 73-44 loss at Minnesota last Saturday. D.J. Newbill scored a game-high 15 points for Penn State which was held to 27.1 percent shooting.
Newbill paces the team with an average of 15.9 points per game while Jermaine Marshall contributes 15.2 points per contest.
Patrick Chambers is in his second season as head coach at Penn State where he has a 241-72 record. He has a 343-103 career record in 13 seasons overall as a head coach.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
With two games remaining in the regular season, Northwestern is locked in to being either the No. 10 or 11 seed for next week's Big Ten tournament at the United Center. If the Wildcats are the No. 10 seed, they'll take on the seventh-seeded team at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. If Northwestern ends up seeded 11th, it will square off with the No. 6 seed at approximately 8 p.m. NU is currently tied with Nebraska in the league standings, but the Huskers hold the tiebreaker over the 'Cats since they won the lone meeting between the teams.
(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 13th in the Big Ten with a scoring average of 13.7 points per game and leads the team with a .455 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 joined 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 the Feb. 14 game at Ohio State due to an upper body injury suffered against Iowa.
DOING IT ON DEFENSE
Northwestern has taken a step forward defensively this season. The Wildcats are limiting their opponents to an average of 63.0 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .423 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 3.9 assists per game leads the team and ranks among the Big Ten leaders. 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 20th in the nation so far this year with a 1.36 ratio (424 assists, 311 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. Northwestern ranks first in the country with a .704 assist percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
NU is committing an average of just 10.7 turnovers per game, ranking ninth 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 7.6 makes this season and are 9-3 when they make at least eight shots from behind the arch.
Northwestern closes out its 2012-13 regular season on Sunday as it travels to Michigan State. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. Central time.
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