Northwestern (7-0) vs. St. Francis-NY (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 20th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,786) -- New York, New York. Television: none. Home Record: Northwestern 5-0, St. Francis-NY 5-0. Away Record: Northwestern 2-0, St. Francis-NY 1-3. Neutral Record: Northwestern 0-0, St. Francis-NY 0-0. Conference Record: Northwestern 0-0, St. Francis-NY 0-0. Series Record: Northwestern leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats put their undefeated mark on the line as they face the St. Francis (NY) Terriers in a non-conference showdown as part of the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival in New York City.
The Wildcats are off to their best start since the 1993-94 campaign. They have posted a 7-0 record, including five wins at home and two on the road. The Wildcats last played on De. 16th, when they cruised to an easy, 78-62, win over American.
Like the Wildcats, the Terriers have posted a perfect, 5-0 home record this year. In fact, the Terriers have won five consecutive games on the whole. They have not lost since a Nov. 24th, 67-63, defeat at the hands of Brown. Most recently, the Terriers dispatched Dartmouth, 69-61, on Dec. 14th.
The Wildcats and the Terriers have met just once in their history, with Northwestern earning a 69-66 victory on Nov. 25, 1998.
John Shurma scored a game-high 28 points, surpassing 1,000 points for his career in the process, in Northwestern's win over American. Michael Thompson added 23 points and Luka Mirkovic scored 11 points for a Wildcats team which shot 50 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three-point range. Their accuracy from deep was nothing new, as the Wildcats' 9.6 three-pointers per game is one of the more productive marks in the nation. Shurma leads Northwestern in scoring this season, pouring in an impressive 23.7 ppg, while pulling down 4.7 rpg and dishing out 3.1 apg. Thompson is solid in support, averaging 16.3 ppg and dishing out a team-high 4.6 apg. Shurma and Thompson have combined for 21 steals thus far. Drew Crawford rounds out the double- digit scoring with 13.9 ppg. The Wildcats win games at the offensive end, averaging 80 ppg on 50.7 percent shooting. They are outscoring opponents by 16.6 ppg.
It was defense that ruled the day in St. Francis' victory over Dartmouth. The Terriers held Dartmouth to 37.3 percent shooting, including just 2-of-6 from three-point range. Sophomore Akeem Johnson led the way with his first career double-double, as he racked up a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson has been pivotal to the Terriers' recent success, as he is now 25 for his last 34 from the field (74 percent) over his last four game. Akeem Bennett was the only starter in double figures, as he scored 13 points and pulled down eight boards. Dre Calloway handed out eight assists against just four turnovers. On the year, Bennett, a preseason all-Northeast Conference selection, paces St. Francis with a solid 16.3 ppg. Ricky Cadell is essentially just as effective, as he averages 16.2 ppg. Calloway contributes a solid 12 ppg and has handed out 36 assists. The Terriers also know how to get it done on the defensive end, holding opponents to 61.7 ppg on 42.5 percent shooting on the year.
The Terriers have been awfully hot lately. The addition of Johnson to the one- two scoring punch of Bennett and Calloway has made them especially tough. Still, it will be difficult to upend the Wildcats, who for all intents and purposes, are even hotter.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 77, St. Francis (NY) 70
12/20 10:37:24 ET