Dec. 12, 2010
Northwestern (5-0) vs. Long Island (6-3)
Monday, Dec. 13, 2010
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 7 p.m.
Streaming Video: BigTenNetwork.com (Rob Coons and Andrew Gothelf)
Audio: WYLL 1160 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
Tickets: Available at NUsports.com, by calling 888-GO-PURPLE or at Welsh-Ryan Arena prior to the contest
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern plays its first game in 13 days on Monday, hosting Long Island at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The Wildcats return to action following a layoff for final exams. The contest opens a stretch during which NU plays five games over an 11-day span.
Most recently, the 'Cats defeated Georgia Tech 91-71 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Nov. 30. John Shurna paced Northwestern with 21 points, while Drew Crawford added 19 points and six rebounds in the home win. NU shot a season-best 64.6 percent from the field in the game. In all, the Wildcats had six players score in double figures, the first time the team has done that since an 84-54 win over North Florida Dec. 16, 2009.
Monday's matchup features two of the highest scoring teams in the nation. Both programs rank in the top 30 in scoring as Long Island averages 81.1 points per game and NU has a norm of 80.2 points per contest.
Series History: NU leads, 1-0. The Wildcats won the only previous meeting 70-42 Jan. 4, 2003 in Evanston. Jitim Young led the way with 15 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Scouting Long Island
The Blackbirds (6-3) are coming off an 85-80 home win over Lafayette on Saturday. Julian Boyd led the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
LIU currently has four players averaging double figures in scoring with Kyle Johnson leading the way at 13.6 points per contest. Boyd contributes 12.4 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game. The Blackbirds were picked to finish third in the Northeast Conference this season.
Jim Ferry is in his ninth season at the helm of LIU where he has a 104-137 record. He is 208-156 in 13 overall seasons as a head coach.
Northwestern vs. the NEC
The Wildcats are 6-0 all-time against members of the Northeast Conference. Northwestern's most recent NEC opponent was Central Connecticut State. The 'Cats defeated the Blue Devils 74-54 Dec. 22, 2009 in Evanston. NU also plays NEC member St. Francis (N.Y.) Dec. 20 at the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival in New York City.
So Far, So Good
With five straight wins to open the season, Northwestern is seeking its first 6-0 start since the 1993-94 campaign. The Wildcats opened that season with nine consecutive victories en route to earning an NIT berth. Northwestern matched last year's squad which also posted a school-record five wins (5-1) in the month of November. This year's team finished the program's first undefeated November when playing at least three games.
NU in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge
With its victory over Georgia Tech Nov. 30, Northwestern improved to 5-7 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Wildcats have won their last three Challenge games and four of their last five. Prior to this season, the only Big Ten team to win Challenge games in three consecutive years was Penn State. Ohio State and Wisconsin joined NU this year in adding to that list.
Thompson Leads the Way
Entering his senior season, Michael Thompson already established himself as one of the top players in program history. Thompson is currently 14th in school history with 1,211 career points after starting the season in 21st place. He became the second player in NU history to post 400 career assists when he reached the mileston Nov. 30 in a win over Georgia Tech. Thompson is just 50 assists shy of surpassing the record of 452 held by Patrick Baldwin (1991-94). A starter at point guard each of his four seasons, Thompson was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2009-10.
A year after shattering the school season record with 317 3-point makes, the Wildcats have picked up right where they left off. NU leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth nationally with an average of 10.0 3-point makes per game this season, with John Shurna leading all Big Ten players with 3.6 triples per contest. The junior forward leads the nation, hitting 62.1 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.
Northwestern's 97 points in its season-opener at Northern Illinois Nov. 12 marked its highest total in the 11-year Bill Carmody era and was its most since a 97-93 overtime win over No. 8 Michigan March 12, 1994. It was also the Wildcats' most points in a true road since a 98-77 victory at Valparaiso Dec. 9, 1975. Coupled with a 91-71 win over Georgia Tech, NU has posted multiple games scoring over 90 points in the same season since the 1993-94 campaign when it reached the mark four times. Northwestern had scored 90 points in a game just twice in Bill Carmody's first 10 seasons as head coach.
Shurna Following Up on Stellar Sophomore Season
There was no such thing as a sophomore slump for John Shurna a year ago. The forward was named the most improved player in the nation by Sporting News after increasing his scoring average 10.9 points per game from his freshman season. His average of 18.2 points per game ranked third in the Big Ten, while his norm of 20.1 points per game in conference play left him just one point shy of surpassing Ohio State's Evan Turner for the league scoring title. After playing on the United States' U-19 team which won the goal medal at the FIBA World Championships following his freshman season, Shurna was a member of the United States Select Team this past summer. The squad helped the USA National Team train for its own FIBA World Championships where it claimed gold in Turkey. Shurna is off on the right foot this season, averaging a Big Ten-leading 22.4 points per game. He needs 42 points to become the 30th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points.
The Wildcats return to action Thursday when they host American to wrap up their five-game homestand. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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