Nov. 16, 2013
The Last Meeting
November 24, 2012
South Padre Island, Texas
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern takes on another in-state foe Sunday evening as it hosts Illinois State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
The matchup is being streamed via Big Ten Digital Network and is set to re-air at 2 p.m. Tuesday on BTN.
The contest is the Wildcats' second in three games against a team from the state of Illinois after facing Eastern Illinois in their season-opener. NU takes on yet another in-state opponent in its next contest as it travels to UIC on Wednesday.
Northwestern is coming off a 71-58 defeat at Stanford on Thursday. JerShon Cobb scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, knocking down four 3-pointers. Drew Crawford contributed 13 of his 15 points in the first half.
Series History: Northwestern and Illinois State have split their four previous meetings, including two matchups in Evanston.
Last Meeting: The Wildcats defeated the Redbirds 72-69 in overtime Nov. 24, 2012 in the championship game of the South Padre Island Invitational. Drew Crawford scored a team-high 20 points for NU while tournament MVP Jared Swopshire posted 15 points and 10 rebounds.
SCOUTING ILLINOIS STATE
The Redbirds fell to 0-2 on the season with an 78-70 home loss to Drexel on Tuesday night. Bobby Hunter led ISU with 14 points off the bench while Michael Middlebrooks posted a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Zack Lofton leads the team through two games with an average of 11.5 points per contest. The Redbirds have been limited to 32 percent shooting from the field in their losses to VCU and Drexel.
Dan Muller is in his second season as head coach at his alma mater. He led the team to an 18-15 record a year ago.
The Collins family is very familiar with the Illinois State basketball program. Head coach Chris Collins' father, Doug, is the Redbirds' all-time leading scorer, amassing 2,240 points in just 77 games for a career average of 29.1 points per contest from 1970-73. For his contributions, the court inside Redbird Arena is named Doug Collins Court and a statue of him is located outside the facility.
DOING IT ON DEFENSE
Head coach Chris Collins has made defense a point of emphasis since the day he was hired at Northwestern. Through an exhibition game and two regular season games, the Wildcats are off to a good start. After scoring 79 and 82 points, respectively, against Division I foes DePaul and Loyola Chicago, Lewis was held to 46 points and 31 percent shooting vs. NU. The 'Cats then limited Eastern Illinois to 30.2 percent shooting in the regular-season opener on Saturday. Northwestern has held Eastern Illinois and Stanford to a combined 7-for-28 on 3-point field goal attempts (.250).
Northwestern's victory over Eastern Illinois marked its sixth straight victory in a season-opener as well as home-opener. The last time the Wildcats dropped their first game of the season was Nov. 11, 2007 when it fell at home to 20th-ranked Stanford, 71-60. NU has posted at least seven wins through its first nine games in each of the last five seasons.
Northwestern suffered an excruciating string of injuries a year ago that left the squad short-handed for a large portion of the season. The list of returning Wildcats who were lost for the season at one point or another include Drew Crawford (shoulder), JerShon Cobb (violations of team policy), Sanjay Lumpkin (wrist) and Chier Ajou (knee).
Redshirt senior Drew Crawford returned to the Northwestern lineup with a vengence in the season-opener against Eastern Illinois, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 25 points. The point total was the highest by a Wildcat in a season-opener since John Shurna scored 31 in a victory at Northern Illinois Nov. 12, 2010. Crawford is the Big Ten's active leading scorer with 1,458 career points. The total ranks 10th in school history.
After sitting out all of last season, JerShon Cobb has been impressive in his return to the court. He handed out a career-high eight assists vs. Eastern Illinois, well surpassing his previous career high of three which he achieved on eight occasions. He followed up the performance by scoring 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second half at Stanford Nov. 14.
VETERAN DUO NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS
Redshirt senior Drew Crawford and junior Dave Sobolewski have been named the team's captains this season. Crawford also served in the role a year ago. He has appeared in 112 career games, making 111 starts, to date while Sobolewski has started each of the first 66 games of his career.
Northwestern welcomes back two players who have earned postseason honors from the Big Ten. Drew Crawford was a consensus third-team all-league pick as a junior in 2011-12. He was also the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2010. In addition, guard Dave Sobolewski earned a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection in 2011-12. He was the fourth NU player to earn the honor over a seven-year span.
MONTGOMERY EARNS SCHOLARSHIP
Senior guard James Montgomery III recently became an internet sensation when he was awarded a scholarship for the 2013-14. Video of the former walk-on being presented the scholarship by head coach Chris Collins and Montgomery sharing the new with his mother and sister has been viewed over 960,000 times on YouTube since it's debut on Oct. 22.
A CHALLENGING SLATE
The Wildcats will play one of their most challenging nonconference schedules in recent memory in 2013-14. Northwestern is set to take on five major conference opponents, including four away from Welsh-Ryan Arena. It is the first time since 2004-05 that NU will take on five major conference opponents in their nonconference schedule. The schedule includes contests against perennial powers Missouri and UCLA in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational as well as true road games at Stanford and NC State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge). The 'Cats also renew their series with local foe DePaul as the Blue Demons will make the short trip to Evanston.
Though the Wildcats stumbled to a 13-19 record a year ago, the program has still appeared in postseason play in four of the last five seasons. Northwestern's four straight NIT berths from 2009-12 marked the first time in school history that it has made postseason appearances in four straight seasons. Northwestern had never made back-to-back postseason appearances prior to the 2009-10 campaign.
Northwestern plays its third team from the state of Illinois already this season when it makes the short trek to UIC on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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