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    Wildcats Trek to South Carolina for Charleston Classic

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM John Shurna scored a game-high 15 points in the Wildcats' season-opening win over UTPA.
    John Shurna scored a game-high 15 points in the Wildcats' season-opening win over UTPA.

    Nov. 16, 2011

    DirecTV Charleston Classic Presented by Foster Grant
    Northwestern (1-0) vs. LSU (1-1)
    Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
    TD Arena (5,100)
    Charleston, S.C. • 2 p.m. CT
    ESPNU (Justin Kutcher and Jay Williams)
    Streaming Video:
    Radio: WGN 720 AM and (Dave Eanet)
    Satellite Radio: Sirius and XM 85
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opens play at the DirecTV Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant at 2 p.m. Central time Thursday as the Wildcats square off against LSU. The contest is being televised by ESPNU and is available online at

    The winner of the matchup faces the winner of the game between Tulsa and Western Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. CT Friday in the semifinal round, while the losers square off at noon. Following a day off on Saturday, the tournament concludes on Sunday.

    NU is coming off a 60-36 home win over Texas-Pan American in its season-opener Sunday night. The Wildcats limited the Broncs to 29.8 percent shooting from the field while forcing 16 turnovers in the contest. John Shurna led Northwestern with 15 points, while Luka Mirkovic and Drew Crawford were also in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

    The Wildcats are 1-2 all-time in games played in the state of South Carolina. Northwestern beat The Citadel 91-74 Dec. 29, 1969 and fell to Texas A&M 93-91 the following day in the Poinsetta Tournament in Greenville, S.C. NU's only other contest in the Palmetto State was a 57-44 loss at Clemson Nov. 28, 2000 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.



    Series History: Northwestern leads, 2-1.
    Last Meeting: The Wildcats and the Tigers are squaring off for the first time since Northwestern posted a 98-86 win Dec. 30, 1965 at the Los Angeles Classic.

    • The Tigers (1-1) dropped a 71-63 decision at Coastal Carolina on Tuesday despite a team-high 15 points from Ralson Turner. LSU posted a 96-74 win over Nicholls State in its season-opener.
    • Turner leads the team in scoring through two games with an average of 13.5 points per contest. He paced the squad a year ago with a norm of 12.3 points per game.
    • Trent Johnson is in his fourth season as the head coach at LSU. He was previously the head coach at Stanford and Nevada.

    The Wildcats have some big shoes to fill in the backcourt with the graduation of Michael Thompson. A four-year starter, Thompson completed his career at NU's all-time leader in games played, games started, minutes played and assists, while ranking third all-time in scoring. In his stead, and with veterans Alex Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb battling lingering injuries, the Wildcats started a pair of true freshmen at the guard spots in the Nov. 13 season-opener against Texas-Pan American. Tre Demps and Dave Sobolewski handled themselves well in their debuts as the duo combined for only four assists with only one turnover in a total of 56 minutes of action.

    Along with the aforementioned injuries to Cobb and Marcotullio, Drew Crawford was also not in the starting lineup due to injury which gave junior guard/forward Reggie Hearn the starting nod. Making his first collegiate start, the former walk-on posted a stellar all-around performance. In 28 minutes of playing time, Hearn posted seven points and career highs of five rebounds, four assists and three steals as well as a blocked shot.

    Northwestern is coming off its third straight postseason appearance--a program best--advancing to the NIT quarterfinal round before falling 69-66 at Washington State in overtime. The Wildcats have posted a school-record 20 wins in each of the last two seasons. This year's senior class has posted 57 wins over the last three campaigns, just eight shy of the school record of 65 set by last year's class.

    NU welcomes back nine letterwinners, including four starters, from last year's squad which made the deepest postseason run in school history. Northwestern returns 73.8 percent of its scoring and 84.4 percent of its rebounding from last season.

    Senior forward John Shurna has been named a second-team preseason All-American by Sporting News and a third-team choice of Athlon Sports. He has also been named to the watch list for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Award for the second consecutive season. Shurna averaged a team-best 16.6 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds per contest in 2010-11 as he was named a third-team All-Big Ten selection. He was also a second-team all-conference pick as a sophomore. The last NU player to earn three career All-Big Ten laurels was Evan Eschmeyer who was a first-team honoree in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

    Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points has stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility. John Shurna is currently in 10th place on NU's career scoring list with 1,392 career points, 508 shy of McKinney's top spot. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore and 531 points last season as a junior.

    In each of the last two seasons, Northwestern started its campaign with at least nine wins in its first 11 games. In 2009-10, NU opened 10-1 en route to earning a No. 25 national ranking. Prior to that season, the Wildcats last posted nine wins in their first 11 contests in the 1993-94 campaign. Each of the last two years, the Wildcats have notched a school-record five wins (5-1) in the month of November. The 2010-11 'Cats finished the program's first undefeated November when playing at least three games.

    In head coach Bill Carmody's first 11 seasons in Evanston, the Wildcats have recorded at least six Big Ten victories seven times. The program totaled six or more conference wins just five times in the previous 31 years prior to Carmody's arrival.

    Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats led the Big Ten and ranked 10th in the nation with an average of 16.7 assists per game last season. NU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.70 (568 assists, 335 turnovers) was the nation's second-best mark, barely trailing only Wisconsin (1.71). The 'Cats also finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game.

    Junior guard Alex Marcotullio spent his second consecutive summer playing for Great Britain at the FIBA U-20 European Championships in Bosnia. He averaged 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game during this year's tournament and then based on his performance was invited to try out for Great Britain's National Team. Marcotullio posted his best totals in the team's final tournament game, recording 24 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Iceland. He also hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in an 83-82 victory over Israel.

    Northwestern recently added two walk-ons to its roster. Sophomore guard James Montgomery III (Los Angeles, Calif./Santa Monica) joins the program after serving as a practice player for the NU women's basketball team last season and averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game as a prep senior. Freshman guard Omar Jimenez (Kennesaw, Ga./Kennesaw Mountain) also joins the squad after averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game as a senior.

    The Wildcats posted a 13-4 home record last season with three of the losses coming to teams that were nationally ranked at the time (Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State). After setting a program best with 13 home wins in 2008-09, the Wildcats established a new mark with 15 victories at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2009-10. Northwestern has a 39-3 home record against unranked opponents over the last four seasons.

    Fred Hill is the newest member of the Wildcats' coaching staff, joining Northwestern as an assistant in the offseason. Hill was most recently the head coach at Rutgers from 2006-10 after serving one year there as the associate head coach. He has also served as an assistant at Villanova, Seton Hall, Fairleigh Dickinson, Maine, Marquette, Rider, Lehigh and Montclair State. Hill replaces Mitch Henderson who was hired as the head coach at Princeton University, his alma mater.

    Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody has compiled an impressive list of indviduals who have been coached by him or have served as an assistant coach under him and have gone on to become Division I head coaches. All of the individuals listed below are graduates of Princeton University, making Princeton the most common alma mater of head coaches at the Division I level.

    John Thompson III, Georgetown
    Mitch Henderson, Princeton
    Craig Robinson, Oregon State
    Chris Mooney, Richmond
    Sydney Johnson, Fairfield
    Joe Scott, Denver

    UP NEXT...
    The winner of Thursday's matchup faces the winner of the game between Tulsa and Western Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. CT Friday. That game is being televised by ESPNU. The losers of the contests meet at noon on


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