GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats go in search of their third straight win, as they entertain the Brown Bears on Sunday afternoon.
Brown brings a 6-3 record into the clash, although two if its losses have occurred in the last four games. The Bears dropped a 74-68 home decision to Albany on Dec. 10 in their last outing, and they will be trying to even their record in true road games at 2-2 with a win today.
Northwestern is just a game over .500 at 6-5, but the team has responded to a three-game losing streak it endured from Nov. 28-Dec. 4 by winning its last two bouts, the most recent of which took place at home this past Monday in an 86-64 rout of Mississippi Valley State. The Wildcats are 5-1 in Evanston this season, and they are in the midst of a season-long, five-game homestand.
Northwestern owns a 5-2 lead in the all-time series with Brown, with the last meeting also taking place on the Wildcats' home floor last December and resulting in a 63-42 victory for NU.
Scoring points hasn't been a major issue for Brown this season, as the team is averaging 75.0 ppg behind a shooting effort that sees 45.4 percent of its field goal attempts finding the bottom of the net, which includes a 41.0 percent showing from 3-point range. The team's defensive effort yields 68.9 ppg, with foes connecting on 40.6 percent of their total shots, with 31.0 percent of their long-range tries going through. Brown is +4.6 in rebounding margin, but -1.9 in turnovers. Sean McGonagill is far and away the most productive player on the roster, as he is averaging 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per outing, while Rafael Maia nets 10.9 ppg while combining with Cedric Kuakumensah to pull down 15.4 of the team's 39.8 rpg. McGonagill hit for 22 points, pacing four Bears in double figures, but those efforts went for naught as Albany claimed a six-point win 12 days ago. The telling stat in the game was a resounding 35-17 deficit for Brown at the foul line.
Northwestern isn't the most talented team around, but what the Wildcats lack in athletic prowess they make up for in grit and determination. The team is averaging 68.5 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .429 overall, .339 from beyond the arc and .725 at the charity stripe, while at the same time permitting 64.8 ppg, with foes having a somewhat difficult time converting their field goal attempts, doing so just 41.8 percent of the time. Drew Crawford (15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), JerShon Cobb (13.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Tre Demps (10.3 ppg) are the only double-digit scorers for the club at this point in the campaign, and it was Crawford who went off for 26 points, 10 caroms and five assists in the shellacking of Mississippi Valley State last time out. Demps and Alex Olah each poured in 18 points, and Sanjay Lumpkin pitched in with 10 points for the Wildcats, who made good on 53.7 percent of their total shots, compared to just 36.2 percent for the Delta Devils.
Expect a competitive game between two teams that aren't likely to make much noise in their respective leagues this season, but still have the ability to shock a foe or two. Give the nod to the hometown 'Cats.
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