Dec. 18, 2010
Northwestern (7-0) vs. St. Francis (N.Y.) (6-3)
Monday, Dec. 20, 2010
Madison Square Garden (18,200)
New York, N.Y. 6 p.m. CT
TV: MSG (Mike Crispino and Bucky Waters)
Audio: 720 AM WGN and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Shon Morris)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern puts its undefeated record on the line Monday and Tuesday as it participates in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival in New York City. The Wildcats tip off the tournament by taking on St. Francis (N.Y.) at 6 p.m. Central time Monday.
Monday's late game features St. John's taking on Davidson at approximately 8:30 p.m. The losers of Monday's games square off at 6 p.m., while the winners meet at 8:30. All four games of the tournament are being televised live by MSG.
At 7-0, the Wildcats are off to their best start since the 1993-94 campaign when that squad opened with nine consecutive victories. It is the fifth time in school history that NU has started a season with at least seven straight wins.
Northwestern is coming off a 78-62 home win over American on Thursday, Dec. 16. Junior forward John Shurna surpassed 1,000 points for his career in the contest, leading the way with 28 points. Senior point guard Michael Thompson chipped in with 23, while Luka Mirkovic posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Series History: NU leads, 1-0. The Wildcats defeated the Terriers 69-66 Nov. 25, 1998 in Evanston. Northwestern is 7-1 all-time against Northeast Conference foes, including an 81-65 win over Long Island Dec. 13.
Scouting St. Francis (N.Y.)
The Terriers (6-3) are coming off a 69-61 home win over Dartmouth Dec. 14. Akeem Johnson came off the bench to lead the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Akeem Bennett, a preseason all-Northeast Conference selection, paces St. Francis with averages of 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Ricky Cadell is close behind at 16.2 points per contest.
Glenn Braica is in his first season as the head coach of the Terriers. He spent the previous six seasons as the top assistant at St. John's.
Northwestern at the Garden
The Wildcats are making their third trip all-time to Madison Square Garden. In its most recent visit, Northwestern dropped a 63-60 decision to Fordham Dec. 22, 2001. NU also participated in the Holiday Festival Dec. 26-28, 1966. After defeating St. John's 62-60, the 'Cats fell to Providence 91-79 and Rhode Island 91-87.
Garnering National Attention
NU's solid start to the season has helped it earn votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches poll. In the Dec. 13 version rankings, the Wildcats earned 15 votes in the coaches poll (31st) and five votes in the AP poll (36th). Last season, Northwestern earned a No. 25 ranking in the Dec. 28 AP poll, its first national ranking in 41 years.
Isn't It Grand!
John Shurna became the 30th player in Northwestern history to reach the 1,000 career point milestone when he scored his 16th point of the game with 8:24 remaining in the first half against American Dec. 16. He became the 17th player to do it in only three seasons. Senior point guard Michael Thompson also reached the mark in his third season. Shurna leads the Big Ten and ranks ninth nationally with an average of 23.7 points per game.
So Far, So Good
With seven straight wins to open the season, Northwestern is seeking its first 8-0 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 fifth in the nation with an impressive .507 field goal percentage this season. The Wildcats are 13th in 3-point field goal percentage, connecting on 42.1 percent of their attempts from beyond the arch. NU is sixth in the country with an average of 9.6 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is third nationally with a .622 3-point percentage and sixth with a .643 overall field goal percentage. His 10-for-11 performance from the field in a win over Long Island Dec. 13 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 1,250 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 40 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 sixth nationally with an average of 9.6 3-point makes per game this season. John Shurna ranks second among all Big Ten players with and average of 3.29 triples per contest, just behind Ohio State's Jon Diebler (3.44).
A year after leading the Big Ten in scoring during conference play, Northwestern is putting a number of points on the board again this year. The Wildcats currently lead the Big Ten with an average of 80.0 points per game. 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.
Northwestern returns to action at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23 when it hosts Mount St. Mary's at Welsh-Ryan Arena. It's Take a Kid to the Game Day. Each paid adult ticket gets two kids in the 8th grade and under in FREE. Tickets must be purchased on the day of the game. Plus, Andy Head the Juggler will be performing at halftime and the men's basketball team will be available for a postgame autograph session.
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