Nov. 26, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern plays on Thanksgiving for the first time in school history Thursday as it takes on Missouri in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Tip-off is set for 9:30 p.m. Central time.
The contest is being televised live by ESPNU and can be heard on WGN 720 AM. NU will follow up the matchup by taking on No. 19/21 UCLA at 10:30 p.m. CT Friday.
The Wildcats are playing in Las Vegas for the first time since Dec. 20 and 21, 1977 when they participated in the Las Vegas Classic, falling to ninth-ranked UNLV 101-95 before defeating Tennessee 93-86.
NU is coming off a 72-59 home victory over Gardner-Webb on Monday. Alex Olah paced the 'Cats with career highs of 18 points and five blocked shots. Drew Crawford added 15 points and JerShon Cobb had 14 with each grabbing eight rebounds. Northwestern shot 66.7 percent (18-27) from the field in the second half to earn the victory.
Series History: Missouri leads 4-3.
Last Meeting: The teams last met Dec. 5, 1968 in Evanston with NU posting a 79-67 win. Dale Kelley led the 'Cats with a game-high 20 points. The teams have met once before on a neutral court with NU winning 67-60 Dec. 20, 1965 at the Memphis State Classic in Memphis, Tenn.
The Tigers remained undefeated with a 78-64 home win over IUPUI on Monday. Jabari Brown led Missouri with 24 points while Jordan Clarkson added 22.
Brown, a transfer from Oregon, paces the team with an average of 19.2 points per game and Clarkson contributes 18.8 points per contest. Clarkson scored a team-high 16 points when he attended Tulsa in the team's 69-65 loss to Northwestern in the Charleston Classic Nov. 18, 2011.
The Tigers are receiving votes in both of this week's national polls. Mizzou posted a 23-11 record last season, falling to Colorado State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Frank Haith is in his third season as head coach at Missouri, though Thursday will be the first game he has coached this season after serving a five-game suspension. He has a career record of 182-117.
It has been quite some time since Northwestern had as large of a margin of victory on the road as it did in at UIC Nov. 20. The 35-point margin was the Wildcats' largest in a true road game since a 77-20 victory at University of Chicago on Jan. 14, 1944.
SOBOLEWSKI'S CAREER NIGHT
Junior guard Dave Sobolewski had the hot hand in a victory over UIC Nov. 20. He scored 17 first-half points en route to tallying a career-best 25 points, knocking down 9 of 14 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers. The effort came one day after Sobolewski's Benet Academy high school teammate Frank Kaminsky set a Wisconsin school record with 43 points against North Dakota. Sobolewski's mark topped his previous best of 23 points achieved as a freshman against Iowa on Feb. 9, 2012.
Redshirt senior Drew Crawford returned to the Northwestern lineup with a vengeance 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 1,516 career points. The total ranks 10th in school history and is five points behind Jitim Young (2001-04) for ninth place and 17 behind Cedric Neloms (1992-95) for eighth place. Crawford is averaging 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game to rank 10th and fifth, respectively, in the Big Ten. Adreian Payne of Michigan State is the only other league player to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
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 and then scored 19 again vs. Illinois State Nov. 17. Cobb's 11 free throws and 14 attempts against the Redbirds were both career highs. The 14 attempts were the most by a Northwestern player since Jitim Young had 15 vs. Michigan State on March 12, 2004. Cobb also posted a career-best 12 rebounds in a win at UIC Nov. 20 and knocked down the game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining in a 63-61 win over IUPUI Nov. 22.
HITTING THE GLASS
Redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin has been an effective rebounder so far this season. After grabbing 7 boards at Stanford Nov. 14, Lumpkin notched his first career double-figure rebounding game on Nov. 17 vs. Illinois State. His 11 rebounds were the most by an NU freshman since Drew Crawford had 12 in an NIT game at Rhode Island March 17, 2010. He followed it up with 10 boards at UIC, which coupled with 10 points gave him his first collegiate double-double. Lumpkin is the first NU player with double-figure rebounds in consecutive games since Crawford vs. Purdue (10) and at Rhode Island March 12 and 17 of 2010.
BOOST OFF THE BENCH
Tre Demps has provided Northwestern with some scoring punch off the bench so far this season. The redshirt sophomore is averaging 8.5 points per game, including scoring in double figures three times. Demps tallied a season-high 13 points in just 18 minutes of action in a win at UIC Nov. 20.
Northwestern returns to action at 10:30 p.m. Central time Friday as it squares off with No. 19/21 UCLA at Orleans Arena.
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