GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats take aim at their first win in a month when they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers this evening in a Big Ten Conference bout at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Northwestern has lost five in a row since its last win on Feb. 1. The Wildcats have been idle since last Saturday's 61-56 home loss to Indiana. They'll host Penn State on Thursday and then travel to Purdue next Saturday to close out the regular season.
Meanwhile, Nebraska is hoping to get back on track after having its five-game win streak snapped by Illinois on Wednesday night in a 60-49 final. However, that game was played in Champaign, whereas the Cornhuskers have won 13 of 14 on their home floor this season. Two games remain on their schedule: at Indiana on Wednesday, and then home against Wisconsin next Sunday for the regular-season finale.
Nebraska claimed a 53-49 road victory when these teams first met this season back on Feb. 8. The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series, 5-2.
Northwestern played its last contest without the services of second-leading scorer JerShon Cobb (12.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) due to injury. Alex Olah, gritting it out on two sprained ankles, recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Tre Demps scored a game-high 19 in his first start of the season. The short-handed Wildcats battled hard, but ultimately they were unable to overcome a 38.8 percent shooting effort from the floor. Leading scorer Drew Crawford (15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) had a particularly dreadful game as he shot just 2-of-10 from the floor and finished with nine points in 40 minutes.
Along with Crawford and Cobb, Demps is also averaging double figures on the season with 11.1 ppg. That trio has combined for 119 of the team's 182 3- pointers made.
Headlining Nebraska's roster is guard Terran Petteway, a 35 percent perimeter shooter (44-of-125) and an 82-percent free-throw shooter who averages a Big Ten-best 18.2 ppg, while also coming up with 4.9 rpg. Along with Petteway, Shavon Shields has started every game this season and is averaging 11.9 points and a team-best 5.6 caroms per contest. The Huskers do not excel at any one particular area, but they have stepped things up defensively of late and have held their last six foes to an average of just 57 points.
However, they gave up a 12-0 run to Illinois in the second half of Wednesday's game and were unable to recover. NU also committed 12 second-half turnovers. Petteway had a team-high 13 points, but he shot just 5-of-18 from the floor and was the only double-figure scorer.
Expect the Cornhuskers to turn in a stronger effort here as they try to get back into the win column on their home floor against a Wildcats team that is short on healthy bodies.
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