Dec. 22, 2010
Northwestern (8-1) vs. Mount St. Mary's (3-9)
Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 2 p.m.
Streaming Video: BigTenNetwork.com (Rob Coons and Andrew Gothelf)
Audio: 720 AM WGN and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Shon Morris)
Satellite Radio: Sirus 91 and XM 196
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Tickets: Available at NUsports.com, by calling 888-GO-PURPLE or on site prior to the contest
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern competes in its final game prior to the start of Big Ten play Thursday afternoon as it hosts Mount St. Mary's at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
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.
The Wildcats will be looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, falling 85-69 to host St. John's on Tuesday in the championship game of the Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden. John Shurna led NU with a game-high 28 points, while Drew Crawford contributed 17. Both players were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts. Michael Thompson pitched in with 13 points and a season-high eight assists.
Despite its 3-9 record, Mount St. Mary's has had a number of close calls as five of its losses are by five points or less. The Mountaineers dropped a 57-53 decision at Penn State Dec. 7 and also hung with undefeated Cincinnati before falling 69-59 Dec. 15.
Series History: First meeting.
Scouting Mount St. Mary's
The Mountaineers (3-9) are coming off a 69-64 home loss to American on Monday. Lamar Trice led Mount St. Mary's with 18 points and six assists.
Trice leads the team with an average of 13.0 points per game. Shawn Atupem is second with a norm of 11.1 points per game and first with 4.9 rebounds per contest.
Robert Burke is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers after previously serving as an assistant coach at American.
Northwestern vs. the NEC
The Wildcats are 8-0 all-time against members of the Northeast Conference. NU has already defeated a pair of NEC foes this season, topping Long Island 81-65 at home Dec. 13 and St. Francis (N.Y.) 92-61 on Monday at the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.
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. 20 version rankings, the Wildcats earned 21 votes in the coaches poll (31st) and 15 votes in the AP poll (32nd). 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 sixth nationally with an average of 24.4 points per game.
So Far, So Good
Northwestern is off to an 8-1 for the second consecutive season and started with eight straight wins for the fifth time in program history. The Wildcats 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 16th in the nation with an impressive .494 field goal percentage this season. The Wildcats are 13th in 3-point field goal percentage, connecting on 41.8 percent of their attempts from beyond the arch. NU is also ninth with an average of 9.7 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is third nationally with a .625 3-point percentage and seventh with a .629 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 1,264 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 milestone Nov. 30 in a win over Georgia Tech. Thompson is just 28 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 ninth nationally with an average of 9.7 3-point makes per game this season. John Shurna leads all Big Ten players with and average of 3.33 triples per contest.
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 rank second in the Big Ten and 26th nationally with an average of 80.1 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 and a 92-61 victory over St. Francis (N.Y.), 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.
Shurna Twice Honored as Big Ten Player of the Week
John Shurna was named the Big Ten Player of the Week Nov. 15 and again Dec. 20, bringing his career total to four. He earned the award twice as a sophomore. Shurna matched a career high with 31 points, including 22 in the first 10 minutes of the second half, in a season-opening win at Northern Illinois Nov. 12. In all, he scored 25 points in the second half, including hitting all of his career-high seven 3-pointers. His second honor this season came after averaging averaging 27 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2 blocked shots per game while shooting 76 percent from the field in wins over Long Island Dec. 13 and American Dec. 16.
The Wildcats takes a seven-day break before returning to action on New Year's Eve when it opens Big Ten play at Purdue. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. CT.
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