Scouting Report: Northwestern

After beating No. 3 Wisconsin Tuesday, the Hoosiers will have to try and not look past a Northwestern team that may be towards the bottom of the Big Ten standings but who can pose some problems for IU.

Here's a closer look at Saturday's Indiana opponent:

Northwestern Wildcats (8-10, 1-4)

Last time out: L, 54-40 vs. Michigan State on Wednesday

After upsetting Illinois for Northwestern's first Big Ten win of the season, the Wildcats hung in with No. 4 Michigan State for a little more than a half before letting their hopes of another upset slip away.

With several ties and even a few leads for Northwestern early on, the Wildcats and the Spartans were tied at 20-all with just less than five minutes to go before halftime. Michigan State finished the half on a 6-2 run to take a 26-22 lead into the locker room.

The Spartans came out of the gates strong to start the final 20 minutes, and four-straight points took their lead to eight. Northwestern tried to battle back, but Gary Harris and Michigan State proved to be too much. They took a double-digit lead with under six minutes remaining and never looked back. Harris led all scorers with 14 points, followed by teammate Keith Appling with 11. The Wildcats' leading scorer, Tre Demps, put up 12 points as the only Northwestern player in double figures. Jershon Cobb led the team with seven boards to go along with eight points.

2012-13 season

Record: 13-19 (4-14 in the Big Ten Conference)

The Wildcats got off the 2012-13 season on a roll, winning their first six non-conference games, including wins over TCU and Illinois State in the South Padre Island Invitational. They then fell to Maryland in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, followed by a loss to UIC. Northwestern would finish its non-conference slate with a 9-4 record before taking on the rigors of the Big Ten schedule.

Northwestern faced a tough task, opening with No. 2 Michigan and No. 9 Minnesota, and both games ended in losses. From there, the Wildcats went on the road to beat Penn State, and a week later they took down No. 22 Illinois followed by the team's first home conference win of the season against No. 12 Minnesota to begin 3-4 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats would also beat Purdue at home a few games later but would finish the regular season on an eight-game skid before falling to Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Just two days later, Bill Carmody was fired as the team's men's basketball head coach, and on March 27, the Wildcats hired Duke associate head coach Chris Collins to fill Carmody's spot.

What they do well:

After playing Wisconsin on Tuesday, the Hoosiers will face a somewhat similar methodical offense in Northwestern Saturday at Assembly Hall. The Wildcats average scoring only 62.4 points per game this season, but they're holding their opponents to 64.6 per game as well while slowing things down considerably.

Northwestern has also done an impressive job keeping control of the ball this season, while turning it over just over 11 times per game, compared to IU's nearly 16 turnovers per game.

The Wildcats also sport five players shooting at least 33 percent from beyond the arc, posing several threats from outside that the Hoosiers will have to keep under control while the Wildcats try to use as much of their shot clock as possible.

Star players:

G/F Drew Crawford, Redshirt Sr.

Crawford is the only senior on this Northwestern squad making much of an impact this season, but he's carried the load fairly well. The redshirt senior is averaging 15 points per game this season while shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc.

The 6-foot-5-inch guard-forward combo is also leading his team in rebounds this season with 6.9 per game. Crawford will likely be all over the court Saturday, and he'll be an important piece of Northwestern's attack for the Hoosiers to neutralize.

C Alex Olah, So.

While talking about Northwestern, Tom Crean mentioned Olah as one of the most improved players he's seen from last year to this year. The 7-foot sophomore center is averaging 8.8 points per game this season, compared to his 6.1 average last season. More impressive, though, is his improved shooting; he's knocking down 55.4 percent of his shots from the field, compared to 41.5 last season.

Olah is third on the team in rebounds behind Crawford and Sanjay Lumpkin with 5.1 per game. He's also turning it over just over once per game, and he's blocked 29 shots this season in 18 games, already eclipsing his mark from his freshman season.


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