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    Following Undefeated Month, 'Cats Open December at Home Friday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Dave Sobolewski is second in the Big Ten with a 3.43 assist-to-turnover ratio.
    Dave Sobolewski is second in the Big Ten with a 3.43 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    Dec. 1, 2011

    Northwestern (6-0) vs. Mississippi Valley State (1-6)
    Friday, Dec. 2, 2011
    Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
    Evanston, Ill. • 7 p.m.
    Streaming Video: (Wildcats All-Access)
    Audio: WIND 560 AM and (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Tickets: Available at or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern looks to extend its season-opening winning streak to seven as it hosts Mississippi Valley State at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday night. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.

    The Wildcats posted six victories in the month of November for the first time in school history and are looking to carry their winning ways into December.

    NU closed out its perfect month with a 76-60 victory at Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday. John Shurna led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds, while Drew Crawford and Luka Mirkovic contributed 14 and 13 points, respectively. Northwestern held the Yellow Jackets to 21 points and 29.6 percent shooting in the second half as the 'Cats posted their fourth straight Challenge victory.

    The win gave the Wildcats victories over foes from the ACC, Big East, SEC and Conference USA already this season.

    Series History: Series tied 1-1.
    Last Meeting: The Wildcats dropped a 49-47 decision to the Delta Devils Dec. 28, 2003 at the S.P. SunClassic in El Paso, Texas. Jitim Young led Northwestern with 18 points.



    • The Delta Devils have played a very challenging schedule so far and are coming off a 97-64 loss at Arkansas Wednesday night. Terrence Joyner and Cor-J Cox led MVSU with 15 points apiece.
    • Joyner leads a balanced scoring effort with an average of 12.0 points per game. Cox contributes 10.2 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds per contest.
    • Sean Woods is in his fourth season as the head coach at Mississippi Valley State.

    Northwestern set a school record with six victories in the month of November after going a perfect 5-0 in the month last season. NU has won 16 of its 17 games in the month of November over the last three seasons. 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.

    Northwestern improved to 6-7 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge with its 76-60 victory at Georgia Tech Nov. 29. NU has now won four straight games in the event. Ohio State (current) is the only other Big Ten school to win Challenge games in four straight years. Coupled with a win at Boston College in the 2011 NIT second round, the Wildcats have won five straight games vs. ACC foes.

    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 11/30)
    1. Central Connecticut State -- 44.2 ppg

    Kyle Vinales (24.0), Ken Horton (20.2) 2. UC Santa Barbara -- 42.5 ppg
    Orlando Johnson (23.8), James Nunnally (18.7)
    3. Maine -- 41.7 ppg
    Gerald McLemore (21.7), Justin Edwards (20.0)
    4. Weber State -- 41.6 ppg
    Damian Lillard (25.6), Scott Bamforth (16.0)
    5. James Madison -- 40.4 ppg
    A.J. Davis (22.8), Humpty Hitchens (17.6)
    T-6. Northwestern -- 40.0 ppg
    John Shurna (21.8), Drew Crawford (18.2)
    T-6. Campbell -- 40.0 ppg
    Eric Griffin (21.2), Darren White (18.8)

    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 six games, all starts, Sobolewski is averaging 9.0 points and 4.0 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.

    Freshman Assist-to-Turnover Ratio Leaders
    (minimum 3.0 assists/game)

    1. Hugh Greenwood (New Mexico) - 4.60
    2. Austin McBroom (Central Michigan) - 3.83
    3. Dave Sobolewski (Northwestern) - 3.43

    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.

    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 63 career wins, just two 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 collegiate eligibility. John Shurna is currently in ninth place on NU's career scoring list with 1,508 career points, 13 points shy of Jitim Young (2001-04) for eighth place and 25 points shy of Cedric Neloms (1992-95) for seventh place. 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 1.66 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 +5.8 turnover margin, forcing 14.7 turnovers per game, while ranking second in the nation with just 8.8 per contest. NU enjoys a commanding 108-42 edge in points off turnovers through six games. The 'Cats finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game during the 2010-11 season.

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern returns action on Sunday as it hosts No. 7 Baylor. Tip time is set for 3 p.m.


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