Dec. 21, 2011
Northwestern (10-1) at #23/21 Creighton (9-1)
Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011
CenturyLink Center (17,260)
Omaha, Neb. 7:05 p.m.
Streaming Video: ESPN3.com
Audio: WGN 720 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Bob Hildebrand)
Live Stats: gocreighton.com
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern concludes its nonconference season Thursday as it travels to Omaha, Neb., to face No. 23/21 Creighton. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
The contest features two of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation. The Bluejays rank seventh with an average of 9.7 3-point makes per game, while the Wildcats are ninth (9.5 per game).
Northwestern completed a stretch of three home games in four days on Sunday by posting an 87-72 victory over Eastern Illinois. John Shurna scored a game-high 32 points, including tying a school record with nine 3-pointers. NU shot 54.2 percent from the field. Luka Mirkovic contributed his seventh career double-double, posting 18 points and 10 rebounds along with seven assists.
A win Thursday would be NU's 11th of the season and would set a new school record for wins prior to Jan. 1. The team's 10 wins are tied with the 2006-07 and 2009-10 teams for the most victories prior to the start of the new year.
Series History: Northwestern leads 3-1.
Last Meeting: A 12-1 second-half run helped the Wildcats post a 65-52 win Nov. 28, 2010 in Evanston. John Shurna led NU with 23 points.
The Bluejays (9-1) are coming off an 83-64 win at Tulsa Monday evening behind Doug McDermott's career-high 35 points. Creighton shot 58.6 percent from the field in the game.
McDermott, a sophomore forward, ranks second in the nation with an average of 25.2 points per game to go along with a team-leading 8.6 rebounds per contest. He's shooting 62.6 percent from the field, including 57.5 percent from 3-point range.
Creighton ranks sixth in the nation in scoring office at a norm of 86.0 points per game and first in assists (20.7 per game).
Greg McDermott (32-17) is in his second season as the head coach at Creighton. He was previously the head coach at Iowa State.
A TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
The Wildcats will have plenty of opportunities in the upcoming schedule to earn quality wins. Beginning Thursday at Creighton, six of Northwestern's next seven opponents are ranked in the Dec. 20 Associated Press poll.
Northwestern and Creighton has one common opponent so far this season in Tulsa. The Wildcats defeated the Golden Hurricane 69-65 Nov. 18 in the Charleston Classic, while the Bluejays earned an 83-64 win at Tulsa Dec. 19. Creighton has already beaten Big Ten foes Iowa (82-59) and Nebraska (76-66).
Northwestern has started its season 10-1 for the third time in school history, matching the 1982-83 and 2009-10 teams. It's the best start for the Wildcats since beginning 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.
John Shurna tied a Northwestern record and was one shy of the Big Ten record when he knocked down nine 3-pointers in the Wildcats' win over Eastern Illinois Dec. 18. The nine triples tied Craig Moore's record established Nov. 22, 2008 at Brown. Shurna went 9-for-12 from beyond the arc in the contest and scored 32 points, marking his fifth career game scoring 30 or more points in a contest.
This year's senior class posted its 66th career win against Central Connecticut State Dec. 17 to set a program record, topping the class of 2010-11. Northwestern is coming off its third straight postseason appearance--a program best--advancing to the NIT quarterfinal round before falling 69-66 at Washington State in overtime. The Wildcats have posted a school-record 20 wins in each of the last two seasons.
NU RECEIVES VOTES IN NATIONAL POLLS
The Wildcats continue to receive votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Northwestern is picking up four votes in the AP poll (39th) and one vote in this week's coaches poll (T-39th).
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats rank second nationally with a 1.81 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. NU ranked second in the nation to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU boasts a +4.4 turnover margin, forcing 14.2 turnovers per game, while ranking fourth in the nation with just 9.8 per contest. The 'Cats finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game during the 2010-11 season.
SHOOTING FOR THE TOP
Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points has stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility. John Shurna is currently in fourth place on NU's career scoring list with 1,592 career points. He jumped up three spots with his 32-point performance against Eastern Illinois Dec. 18. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore and 531 points last season as a junior. He is the active Big Ten career leader with 32 games of scoring 20 or more points.
Northwestern opens Big Ten play Wednesday, Dec. 28 as it travels to Ohio State. Tip time is set for 4:30 p.m. Central time.
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