Dec. 16, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern returns to action following an eight-day break for final exams on Monday as it hosts Texas State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
The contest is being televised live on Big Ten Network and can be heard on 720 AM WGN and wgnradio.com
NU is looking to bounce back following a 74-65 home loss to Butler on Dec. 8. Dave Sobolewski led the Wildcats with 21 points, while Tre Demps added 15 off the bench. The Wildcats got to the free throw line a season-high 31 times in the contest.
Northwestern's three losses this season have come to teams that currently have a combined record of 26-4 (Maryland, 9-1; UIC, 9-1; Butler, 8-2).
Series History: First meeting. Northwestern is 2-2 all-time against current members of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
SCOUTING TEXAS STATE
The Bobcats (4-6) dropped a 75-63 decision at Texas on Saturday. Matt Staff led Texas State with 15 points.
Staff paces Texas State with an average of 16.1 points per game and is a perfect 29-for-29 from the free throw line. Joel Wright contributes 14.6 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per contest.
Doug Davalos is in his seventh season as the head coach at Texas State where he has an 84-107 record. He was previously the head coach for four seasons at Division III Sul Ross State.
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 a Dec. 4 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.
CRAWFORD TO MISS REMAINDER OF 2012-13 SEASON
Senior forward Drew Crawford will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season as he'll undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Crawford had started all 10 of the team's games and he was averaging 13.5 points per contest. He twice scored 20 points this season in wins over Texas Southern and Illinois State as well as 19 points in a victory at Baylor.
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 59.1 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .396 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.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Though the end result didn't go the way they would have liked, the Wildcats did a great job of taking care of the basketball against Maryland Nov. 27. Northwestern committed just four turnovers in the entire contest, the fewest since it committed three in an overtime game at Illinois on Dec. 30, 2009. NU is committing an average of just 11.5 turnovers per game.
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 4.1 assists per game ranks sixth 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 10 contests, Northwestern ranks second the Big Ten with an average of 16.9 assists per game while leading the country with a .738 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 11th in the nation so far this year with a 1.47 ratio (169 assists, 115 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 returns to action at 8 p.m. Friday when it hosts Stanford at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
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