Dec. 7, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opens up a five-game homestand Saturday as it takes on Butler at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Big Ten Network is televising the game live. The contest can also be heard on 720 AM WGN and at wgnradio.com.
Following the contest against the Bulldogs, the Wildcats close out their nonconference season by hosting Texas State, Stanford and Brown before opening Big Ten play at home against Michigan.
A victory on Saturday would give the 'Cats at least eight wins through their first 10 games for the fifth consecutive season.
NU is coming off a big 74-70 road win at Baylor on Tuesday. All five Northwestern starters scored in double figures, paced by Drew Crawford's 19 points while Reggie Hearn added 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Wildcats opened the second half on a 19-4 run to build an 18-point lead before holding on late for the victory.
Series History: Northwestern leads the all-time series with Butler, 16-8. The Wildcats have won 12 of the 13 all-time meetings in Evanston.
The Bulldogs (6-2) cruised to an 87-55 home win over IUPUI on Wednesday night. Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham paced Butler with 17 points apiece.
Clarke, a transfer from Arkansas, leads the team with averages of 17.9 points and 4.0 3-point field goals per game. Khyle Marshall contributes 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
Brad Stevens is in his sixth season as the head coach at Butler where he has a 145-42 record. He led the Bulldogs to national runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011.
DOING IT ON DEFENSE
Northwestern has taken a step forward defensively so far this season. The Wildcats are limiting their opponents to an average of 57.4 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .388 field goal percentage. The 'Cats have held five of their opponents to below 40 percent shooting in a game. During the 2011-12 season, Northwestern's opponents shot 45.2 percent from the field. Three times this year (Texas Southern, Fairleigh Dickinson, TCU), the Wildcats have limited the opposition to 14 first-half points.
MESSING WITH TEXAS
The Lone Star State has been kind to Northwestern so far this season. The Wildcats are a perfect 3-0 in games played in the state of Texas this year, posting wins over TCU and Illinois State in the South Padre Island Invitational Nov. 23-24 prior to Tuesday's win at Baylor. NU is also undefeated in three games against teams that hail from the state of Texas, posting wins over Texas Southern, TCU and Baylor. Northwestern has one final regular-season game scheduled against a team from the state as it hosts Texas State at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Dec. 17.
SO FAR, SO GOOD
Northwestern has posted at least seven wins through its first nine games for the fifth-straight season. The Wildcats opened 2010-11 with eight-consecutive wins before winning their first seven a year ago. NU began the 2009-10 campaign 10-1 en route to earning an AP national ranking.
CRAWFORD CLIMBS SCORING LIST
Drew Crawford currently ranks 10th in school history with 1,402 career points. He surpassed Shon Morris for 10th place at Baylor Dec. 4 and is 119 points shy of Jitim Young for ninth place. Last season, Crawford became the 17th Northwestern player to reach the 1,000 career point mark in his first three seasons of action. He is the second-leading returning scorer in the Big Ten in terms of scoring average behind only Penn State's Tim Frazier after posting a norm of 16.1 points per game in 2011-12.
DISHING IT OUT
Sophomore Dave Sobolewski has been in a giving mood through the Wildcats' first nine games. The point guard handed out a career-best nine assists in Northwestern's season-opening win over Texas Southern Nov. 13 and then followed it up with eight helpers against Mississippi Valley State Nov. 15. His average of 4.2 assists per game ranks fourth in the Big Ten. A year ago, Sobolewski led the Big Ten and paced all nation's freshmen with a 2.63 assist-to-turnover ratio. Through nine contests, Northwestern leads the Big Ten with an average of 17.7 assists per game while leading the country with a .754 assist percentage.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats ranked fourth in the nation with a 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio last season and they're sixth in the nation so far this year with a 1.56 ratio (159 assists, 102 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. NU also ranked fourth in the country last season with an average of just 10.2 turnovers per contest.
Northwestern takes a week off for final exams before returning to action Monday, Dec. 17 when it hosts Texas State. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
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