Dec. 3, 2011
Northwestern (7-0) vs. No. 7/8 Baylor (6-0)
Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 3 p.m.
TV: BTN (Tom Hart and Shon Morris)
Audio: WGN 720 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Bob Hildebrand); 89.3 FM WNUR and wnur.org
Satellite Radio: Sirius/XM 85
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern hosts its highest-ranked nonconference opponent in 22 years as the Wildcats take on No. 7/8 Baylor Sunday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip time is set for 3 p.m.
Northwestern has started 7-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. The Wildcats are looking to match last year's start of eight straight wins.
NU cruised to a 92-67 home win over Mississippi Valley State Friday evening. The Wildcats tied their school and Big Ten record by hitting 20 3-pointers in the contest. Northwestern rolled up 59 first-half points in jumping out to a 38-point halftime lead. Senior Nick Fruendt came off the bench to score a team- and career-high 21 points. Eight different 'Cats hit a 3-pointer in the contest, one shy of the NCAA record.
Northwestern already has victories over foes from the ACC, Big East, SEC and Conference USA this season and is looking to add another one against a team from the Big 12.
A win would be the 65th in the career of the NU senior class which would tie the school record set by last year's class.
Series History: First meeting
A FORMIDABLE CHALLENGE
The Bears (6-0) enter the contest ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. This game is Baylor's first of the year away from home.
Sophomore forward Perry Jones III, a preseason All-American, returned from being suspended for the first five games of the season to post 27 points in a 90-54 victory over Prairie View A&M Tuesday evening.
Scott Drew is in his ninth season as the head coach at Baylor (133-116) and 10th season overall as a head coach (153-127).
At No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, Baylor is the highest-ranked nonconference opponent to visit Welsh-Ryan Arena since Dec. 2, 1989 when Northwestern hosted No. 7 Duke. The previous highest-ranked non-Big Ten foe to come to Evanston during Bill Carmody's
tenure as head coach was 11th-ranked Butler on Nov. 18, 2009. For a complete all-time listing of NU's nonconference opponents ranked in the top 10 can be found on page 4.
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.
The Wildcats scorched the nets for 20 3-point field goals in their 92-67 win over Mississippi Valley State Dec. 2. The mark tied the school and Big Ten record for 3-pointers in a game, matching Northwestern's total against North Carolina A&T Dec. 13, 2009. NU assisted on 30 of its 34 field goals in the contest with the 30 helpers ranking as a tie for second in school history, two shy of the top mark and tied for the most against a Division I opponent.
Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody is celebrating his 60th birthday Sunday.
SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE
Today's matchup features one of the nation's leaders in fewest turnovers per game going against one of the nation's leaders in turnovers forced. Northwestern has committed just 8.9 turnovers per game so far this season, the third-best mark nationally, trailing only fellow Big Ten squads Wisconsin and Purdue. Meanwhile, Baylor is turning its opponents over an average of 19.3 times per contest. NU holds a 123-50 edge over its opponents in points off turnovers.
NOT HALF BAD
The 59 points that Northwestern scored in the first half of its win over Mississippi Valley State Dec. 2 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 56 in the second half against LSU, accomplished just 15 days earlier. The previous best for points in a first half was 55 against Georgia Tech Nov. 30, 2010 and SIU Edwardsville Jan. 20, 2011.
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. Shurna leads the Big Ten with an average of 20.0 points per game. He led all BCS players with an average of 21.8 points per game before playing just 11 minutes in a blowout win over Mississippi Valley State on Friday. Crawford is the Big Ten's sixth-leading scorer with a norm of 17.6 points per contest.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
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 seven games, all starts, Sobolewski is averaging 8.1 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. Dave Sobolewski (Northwestern) - 4.00
3. Austin McBroom (Central Michigan) - 3.83
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats have a 1.90 assist-to-turnover ratio this season to rank third nationally and narrowly behind Creighton (1.91) and Wisconsin (1.91). NU ranked second in the nation to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU boasts a +4.9 turnover margin, forcing 13.7 turnovers per game, while ranking third in the nation with just 8.9 per contest. The 'Cats finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game during the 2010-11 season.
NU IN THE BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE
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.
HEARN STEPS IN
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 five 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. Hearn posted career bests of 15 points and seven rebounds in a victory over Mississippi Valley State Dec. 2.
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 64 career wins and its next victory will tie the school record held by last year's class.
SHOOTING FOR THE TOP
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 1,517 career points, four points shy of Jitim Young (2001-04) for eighth place and 16 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 takes 10 days off for final exams before returning to action Dec. 15 at home against Texas Southern.
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