Dec. 15, 2010
Northwestern (6-0) vs. American (6-3)
Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 7 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network (Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris)
Audio: WGN 720 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern wraps up its season-long five-game homestand Thursday as it takes on American at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. with the game being televised live by Big Ten Network.
The Wildcats are off to their best start since the 1993-94 season when they opened that campaign with nine consecutive victories. NU is coming off an 81-65 win over Long Island on Monday. John Shurna led the way with 26 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Michael Thompson contributed 16 points and seven assists. As a team, Northwestern assisted on 24 of its 29 made field goals.
Series History: First meeting. Northwestern is 6-1 all-time against opponents from the Patriot League. Most recently, the Wildcats defeated Lehigh 61-59 Nov. 13, 2005 in the 2005-06 season-opener in Laramie, Wyo., as part of the BCA Invitational.
Wouldn't That Be Grand!
The Eagles (6-3) are coming off a 66-53 win at UMBC on Tuesday. Troy Brewer led American with 18 points, while Stephen Lumpkins contributed a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior forward Vlad Moldoveanu leads the team with an average of 18.9 points per game. Lumpkins is third in scoring at 12.2 points per contest and first with a norm of 8.9 rebounds per game.
Jeff Jones, previously the head coach at Virginia, is in his 11th season at the helm at American. He led the Eagles to NCAA tournament appearances in 2008 and 2009.
Coming off a 26-point performance Monday against Long Island, John Shurna
enters Thursday's game just 16 points shy of 1,000 for his career. He would be the 30th player in school history to reach the milestone, including the 17th to do it in only three season. Shurna leads the Big Ten and ranks 11th nationally with an average of 23.0 points per game.
So Far, So Good
With six straight wins to open the season, Northwestern is seeking its first 7-0 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.
Northwestern ranks sixth in the nation with an impressive .508 field goal percentage this season. The Wildcats are 12th in 3-point field goal percentage, connecting on 42 percent of their attempts from beyond the arch. NU is tied for fourth in the country with an average of 10 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is third nationally with a .645 3-point percentage and seventh with a .643 overall field goal percentage. His 10-for-11 performance from the field in Monday's win over Long Island ranks as a tie for the second-best effort in program history.
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 1,227 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 43 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 is tied for fourth nationally with an average of 10.0 3-point makes per game this season. John Shurna ranks second among all Big Ten players with and average of 3.33 triples per contest, just behind Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber (3.4).
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.
The Wildcats travel to New York City to participate in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival on Monday and Tuesday. Northwestern opens up against St. Francis at 6 p.m. CT on Monday.
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