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    Northwestern Tips Off Busy Week With Texas Southern Thursday

    Drew Crawford ranks fifth in the Big Ten with an average of 17.3 points per game.

    Drew Crawford ranks fifth in the Big Ten with an average of 17.3 points per game.

    Dec. 14, 2011

    Northwestern (7-1) vs. Texas Southern (1-6)
    Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011
    Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
    Evanston, Ill. • 7 p.m.
    Streaming Video: (Wildcats All-Access)
    Audio: WGN 720 AM and (Dave Eanet and Shon Morris)
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern returns to action following a 10-day break for final exams as it hosts Texas Southern at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.

    The contest opens a stretch of three games in four days for the Wildcats. Northwestern also hosts Central Connecticut State on Saturday and instate foe Eastern Illinois on Sunday.

    A victory would give NU's senior class 65 career wins, tying the group with last year's seniors for the winningest class in program history.

    The Wildcats are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, a 69-41 setback to No. 7/8 Baylor on Dec. 4. Drew Crawford scored a team-high 15 points, but Northwestern couldn't overcome 24.1 percent shooting from the field. The 'Cats made just four of 26 attempts from 3-point range, just two days after tying their own Big Ten record by hitting 20 triples in a win over Mississippi Valley State.

    Series History: First meeting. Northwestern is 4-1 all-time against current members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), including a 92-67 win over Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 2.

    • The Tigers (1-6) are playing on the road for the seventh time in eight games so far this season. Texas Southern most recently dropped a 62-46 decision at Denver Dec. 3.
    • Omar Strong averages a team-leading 13.0 points per game for the Tigers who rank 343rd out of 344 Division I teams with a norm of 50.9 points per contest.
    • Lawrence Johnson-Danner was named the 2010-11 SWAC Freshman of the Year.
    • Tony Harvey (44-60) is in his fourth season as the head coach at Texas Southern, leading the Tigers to 16-2 record in league play a year ago and a SWAC regular-season title.



    The Wildcats continue to receive votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Northwestern is picking up three votes in this week's coaches poll (T-40th) and two votes in the AP poll (39th).

    Freshman guard Tre Demps underwent surgery on his left shoulder Dec. 13 and will miss the remainder of the 2011-12 season. He is eligible to seek a medical redshirt. Demps originally injured the shoulder over the summer and had continued to play with a protective brace. He appeared in four games, including starting the first game of the season. Demps averaged 2.3 points, 1.3 assists, 1.3 rebounds and 14.3 minutes per game.

    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.

    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 ranks second the Big Ten with an average of 18.9 points per game. Crawford is the Big Ten's fifth-leading scorer with a norm of 17.3 points per contest.

    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 eight games, all starts, Sobolewski is averaging 7.3 points and 4.0 assists per game an has committed just seven turnovers in 254 minutes of action. In a one-point game with LSU Nov. 17, Sobolewski hit a clutch 3-pointer with 26.7 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.

    Nation's Assist-to-Turnover Ratio Leaders
    (min. 3.0 assists/game; through 12/11)

    1. JayDee Luster (Wyoming) - 4.78
    2. Dave Sobolewski (Northwestern) - 4.57
    3. Andrew Rogers (Maine) - 4.00
    3. Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa) - 4.00
    5. Randy Davis (Ball State) - 3.88

    Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats have a 1.77 assist-to-turnover ratio this season to rank first nationally. NU ranked second in the nation to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU boasts a +4.6 turnover margin, forcing 13.9 turnovers per game, while ranking second in the nation with just 9.3 per contest. The 'Cats finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game during the 2010-11 season.

    The Wildcats posted a 13-4 home record last season with three of the losses coming to teams that were nationally ranked at the time (Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State). After setting a program best with 13 home wins in 2008-09, the Wildcats established a new mark with 15 victories at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2009-10. Northwestern has a 41-3 home record against unranked opponents over the last four seasons.

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern continues its stretch of three games in four days on Saturday as it takes on Central Connecticut State. Tip time is set for 1 p.m.


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