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    'Cats Seek Fourth Straight Big Ten/ACC Challenge Win at Georgia Tech Tuesday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Reggie Hearn has started each of Northwestern's first five games and is averaging 5.8 points per contest.
    Reggie Hearn has started each of Northwestern's first five games and is averaging 5.8 points per contest.

    Nov. 28, 2011

    Northwestern (5-0) at Georgia Tech (4-2)
    Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011
    Philips Arena (18,371)
    Atlanta, Ga. • 6:15 p.m. CT
    ESPNU (Rob Stone and Drew Barry)
    Streaming Video:
    Audio: (Dave Eanet and Shon Morris)
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Winners of its last three games in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Northwestern travels to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Tuesday for this year's event. Tip time is set for 6:15 p.m. Central time.

    It is the second consecutive year that the teams are squaring off in the Challenge with NU winning last season's meeting in Evanston.

    The Wildcats enter the contest at 5-0 for the second consecutive year. NU opened the 2010-11 season with eight straight wins. A victory would run the 'Cats to 6-0 in the month of November for the first time in school history.

    Northwestern is coming off a 63-58 home victory over Stony Brook last Friday. John Shurna scored a game-high 20 points, while freshman Dave Sobolewski contributed a collegiate-best 16 points to go along with four assists and four rebounds. The Wildcats limited the Seawolves to 31.4 percent shooting from the field.

    Series History: Northwestern leads, 1-0.
    Last Meeting: The Wildcats surged out to an 18-point halftime lead in defeating the Yellow Jackets 91-71 in last year's Challenge Nov. 30 in Evanston. John Shurna scored a game-high 21 points while Drew Crawford added 19.



    • The Yellow Jackets (4-2) most recently posted a 72-44 home win over Siena Nov. 23. Glen Rice Jr. paced Georgia Tech with 23 points off the bench on 10-of-12 shooting.
    • Rice, a junior guard, sat out the first three games of the season, but is leading the team with an average of 17.7 points per game to go along with 7.0 rebounds per contest.
    • Brian Gregory is in his first season as the head coach at Georgia Tech. He was an assistant coach at Northwestern under Kevin O'Neill from 1997-99.

    Northwestern is 5-7 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, including three straight wins. Prior to last season, Penn State was the only Big Ten team to win three straight games in the Challenge. NU, Ohio State and Wisconsin joined the list last season. Coupled with a win at Boston College in the 2011 NIT second round, the Wildcats have won four straight games vs. ACC foes.

    12/1/99 - Florida State; L, 46-60
    11/28/00 - at Clemson; L, 44-57
    11/28/01 - Florida State; W, 57-50
    12/4/02 - at NC State; L, 49-74
    12/1/03 - at Florida State; L, 53-71
    12/1/04 - Virginia; L, 44-48
    11/30/05 - at Virginia; L, 57-72
    11/28/06 - Miami (Fla.); W, 61-59
    11/27/07 - at Virginia; L, 52-94
    12/3/08 - Florida State; W, 73-59
    12/1/09 - at NC State; W, 65-53
    11/30/10 - Georgia Tech; W, 91-71

    Northwestern's roster features a pair of Georgia natives in sophomore guard JerShon Cobb and freshman guard Omar Jimenez. Cobb is a native of Decatur who prepped at Columbia High. He started 27 games as a freshman and scored 12 points in last year's meeting with Georgia Tech. Jimenez is a Kennesaw, Ga., native who attended Kennesaw Mountain High and recently joined the program as a walk-on.

    Junior forward Drew Crawford was recognized for his play at the DirecTV Charleston Classic Nov. 17-20 by being named both the tournament MVP as well as the Big Ten Player of the Week Nov. 21. Crawford averaged 24 points and six rebounds per game in the Wildcats' wins over LSU, Tulsa and Seton Hall. He scored 17, 28 and 27 points, respectively, in the contests and tallied at least 17 points in a half three times. Crawford was also named Big Ten Player of the Week once as a fres`hman.

    John Shurna's 37 points in the win over LSU Nov. 17 marked a career high for the senior forward. The total marks a tie for the most by a NU player in Bill Carmody's 12 years as head coach, matching Kevin Coble's effort against 15th-ranked Indiana Feb. 23, 2008. It ranks as a tie for the eighth-best scoring performance in school history. Shurna's previous career high was 31 points, achieved three times, including most recently at Northern Illinois Nov. 12, 2010.

    We're not sure which one is Batman and which one is Robin, but senior John Shurna and junior Drew Crawford have already shown that they form a pretty formidable 1-2 punch.

    Nation's Top Scoring Duos (through 11/27)
    Central Connecticut State -- 44.2 ppg

    Kyle Vinales (24.0), Ken Horton (20.2)
    UC Santa Barbara -- 41.0 ppg
    Orlando Johnson (21.4), James Nunnally (19.6)
    Northwestern -- 40.2 ppg
    John Shurna (21.2), Drew Crawford (19.0)

    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. Freshman Dave Sobolewski has stepped in valiantly in his stead. Through five games, all starts, Sobolewski is averaging 9.2 points and 3.6 assists per game. In a one-point game with LSU Nov. 17, Sobolewski hit a clutch 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to seal the win. The following day with NU leading Tulsa by three in the final minute, he came up with a key steal to help ice another victory for the Wildcats. He scored a collegiate-best 16 points in a Nov. 25 victory vs. Stony Brook.

    The 56 points that Northwestern scored in the second half of its win over LSU Nov. 17 marked the team's highest point total in a half during Bill Carmody's 12 seasons as head coach. The previous high for points in a half was 55 in the first half against Georgia Tech Nov. 30, 2010 and SIU Edwardsville Jan. 20, 2011. The previous best for points in a second half was 54 at Northern Illinois Nov. 12, 2010.

    The Wildcats defeated LSU Nov. 17 despite trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half. It is the largest deficit NU has overcome to win a game since rallying back from 17 down in a 68-62 victory at Michigan Jan. 10, 2010.

    With key returners JerShon Cobb, Alex Marcotullio and Drew Crawford battling early-season injuries, junior guard/forward Reggie Hearn got the starting nod in NU's season-opener and the four games since. Making his first collegiate start, the former walk-on posted a stellar all-around performance vs. UTPA Nov. 11. 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.

    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 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 62 career wins, just three shy of the school record of 65 set by last year's class.

    Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points has stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his eligibility. John Shurna is currently in ninth place on NU's career scoring list with 1,483 career points, 417 shy of McKinney's mark. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore and 531 points last season as a junior.

    Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats have a 1.82 assist-to-turnover ratio this season after ranking second in the nation to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU boasts a +6.2 turnover margin, forcing 14.2 turnovers per game, while leading the nation with just 8.0 per contest. NU enjoys a commanding 92-29 edge in points off turnovers through five games. The 'Cats finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game during the 2010-11 season.

    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. This is the third straight year the Wildcats have notched a school-record five wins in the month of November. The 2010-11 'Cats finished the program's first undefeated November when playing at least three games. NU has won 15 of its last 16 games in the month of November.

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern returns action Friday, Dec. 2 as it hosts Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m.


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