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    Wildcats and Blue Devils Square Off Saturday on Evanston Day

    Davide Curletti grabbed four rebounds and blocked a pair of shots in the Wildcats' win over Texas Southern on Thursday.

    Davide Curletti grabbed four rebounds and blocked a pair of shots in the Wildcats' win over Texas Southern on Thursday.

    Dec. 16, 2011

    Northwestern (8-1) vs. Central Connecticut State (5-4)
    Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011
    Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
    Evanston, Ill. • 1 p.m.
    Streaming Video: (Wildcats All-Access)
    Audio: WGN 720 AM and (Dave Eanet and Bob Hildebrand)
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern looks to earn its ninth win through the first 10 games of the season for the third consecutive year as the Wildcats host Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon. Tip time is set for 1 p.m.

    It is Evanston Day and Evanston residents can secure tickets for just $15 in advance by calling 888-GO-PURPLE for more information.

    NU's senior class is aiming to becoming the winningest class in program history as it enters the contest with 65 wins over the last four years.

    Northwestern surged out to an early 23-3 lead and never looked back, defeating Texas Southern 81-51 Thursday evening. John Shurna led the Wildcats with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Drew Crawford scored 17 points while matching Shurna's five assists and Dave Sobolewski knocked down a career-best five 3-pointers, scoring 15 points.

    Series History: Northwestern won the only previous meeting with Central Connecticut State, posting a 74-54 win Dec. 22, 2009 in Evanston. John Shurna led the Wildcats with 29 points.



    • The Blue Devils (5-4) return to action for the first time since dropping a 90-80 decision at Brown last Saturday.
    • CCSU features the nation's top-scoring trio as Ken Horton (23.3), Kyle Vinales (19.9) and Robby Ptacek (19.3) are all averaging over 19 points per game. Horton's scoring average ranks third in the country.
    • The Blue Devils entered the week ranked 14th in the nation with an average of 9.1 3-point field goals per game.
    • Howie Dickenman (241-212) is in his 16th season as the head coach at Central Connecticut State.

    A victory on Saturday would give Northwestern nine wins through its first 10 games for the third consecutive season. NU also started 9-1 in the 1982-83 and 1993-94 seasons, the best start for the Wildcats since opening the 1930-31 season with a school-record 12 straight wins. Northwestern set a school record this year 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.

    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.

    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.

    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 19.0 points per game. Crawford is the Big Ten's fifth-leading scorer with a norm of 17.2 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 nine games, all starts, Sobolewski is averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 assists per game and has committed just seven turnovers in 286 minutes of action to go along with 34 assists. He scored a collegiate-best 16 points in a Nov. 25 victory vs. Stony Brook and hit five 3-pointers in a win over Texas Southern Dec. 15.

    Nation's Assist-to-Turnover Ratio Leaders
    (min. 3.0 assists/game; through 12/15)

    1. Dave Sobolewski (Northwestern) - 4.86
    2. Louie Krogman (South Dakota)- 4.29
    3. JayDee Luster (Wyoming) - 4.27
    4. 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 1.82 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 +5.2 turnover margin, forcing 14.7 turnovers per game, while ranking second in the nation with just 9.4 per contest. The 'Cats finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game during the 2010-11 season.

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern wraps up its busy homestand Sunday as it takes on Eastern Illinois. Tip time is set for 5 p.m.


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