FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Brown 1-2, Northwestern 5-4. Away Record: Brown 2-3, Northwestern 1-0. Neutral Record: Brown 0-0, Northwestern 2-0. Conference Record: Brown 0-0, Northwestern 0-0. Series Record: Northwestern leads, 4-2.
GAMES NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will try to bounce back from a close loss in the final non-conference game of the season when they host the Brown Bears at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Brown has been off for 15 days since its last contest when it fell on the road, 84-57, to Notre Dame. That loss was the second straight and fourth in the last three games for the Bears who are just 3-5 overall. That includes a 2-3 mark on the road. After this Brown will host cross town rival Providence next Friday.
After trailing by as many as 18 points against Stanford on Friday night, Northwestern rallied in the second half and tied the game twice but was never able to take a lead in a 70-68 loss. The setback was the fourth in the last five games for the Wildcats who are 8-4 overall. Northwestern ends this current five-game homestand and opens up Big Ten play in its next contest against No. 2 Michigan.
Prior to this matchup these teams had met six times previously with Northwestern holding a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series.
The Bears were thoroughly outplayed in South Bend against Notre Dame. Brown shot just 36.8 percent from the field while the Irish hit on an even 50.0 percent from the field. Each team knocked down nine 3-pointers but the Bears had far too many turnovers (12) while failing to force many miscues from Notre Dame which turned the ball over just three times.
Matt Sullivan (16.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg) was again the lead scorer for Brown in the loss to Notre Dame. In fact Sullivan is currently the leading scorer in the Ivy League. Sean McGonagil (14.9 ppg, 4.6 apg) teams with Sullivan in the backcourt as both a scorer and facilitator. Center Rafael Maia (12.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and forward Cedric Kuakumensah (6.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) anchor the team from the frontcourt. Tucker Halpern (9.2 ppg) is projected to start this game, but has largely been used to create an offensive spark off the bench.
Stanford led 32-14 with just over seven minutes remaining against Northwestern on Friday. The Wildcats ripped off a 17-0 run from there and would never trail by double digits the rest of the way, but were also never able to overtake the Cardinal. Northwestern led just once (2-0) in the contest and shot 42.9 percent overall in the game.
The Wildcats have been without Drew Crawford (13.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg) for the last two games, as the senior was lost for the season after undergoing right shoulder surgery earlier this month. That has left it to players like Reggie Hearn (14.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Dave Sobolewski (11 ppg, 4.0 apg) to pick up the slack. Hearn has responded by scoring at least 15 points in each of the last two games. Jared Swopshire (8.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Alex Olah (7.1 ppg) need to improve on the offense end considering the lack of scoring options on the roster as no other player scores more than five points a game. Overall Northwestern is near the bottom of the Big Ten in scoring (68.2 ppg) but has managed to hold a scoring margin of +7.4 by limiting foes to 40.6 percent shooting.
Northwestern has been stumbling of late and losing Crawford hasn't made things any easier. However, Brown doesn't have the type of squad that will be able to go on the road and top the Wildcats.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 77, Brown 59
12/23 10:33:36 ET
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