Wednesday, March 23rd, 10:00 CT
Northwestern hopes to make history on Wednesday night against Washington State. The Wildcats can earn their first-ever 21-win season in program history, and more importantly, keep the season going with a trip to New York City for the NIT semifinals.
Coming off their impressive 18-point win over Boston College, Northwestern will head to Pullman, Washington to take on the Washington State Cougars. The Cougars are coming off their own impressive win, that coming against Oklahoma State.
The Wildcats are playing arguably their best basketball of the season as they enter Wednesday night's game. The ‘Cats finished an impressive all-around performance on Saturday with their win against the Golden Eagles, finishing with all five starters in double-figures. Juice Thompson led all scorers with 22 points, while John Shurna finished with 20 points, marking his third-consecutive game with 20 points or more.
On Wednesday, Northwestern hopes to continue that success against Washington State. The Cougars are led by 6'6 guard, Klay Thompson, who averages 22.2 points per game. However, Washington State suffered a tough blow on Tuesday, when it was announced that junior forward DeAngelo Casto has been suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team rules.
The Cougars will have to work around the loss of their big forward. As for the Wildcats, they're just hoping to stay hot.
A win sends a team to New York City, and a loss sends a team home.
G: #22 Michael Thompson (5'10) SR.
G: #4 Alex Marcotullio (6'3) SOPH.
F: #1 Drew Crawford (6'5) SOPH.
F: #24 John Shurna (6'8) JR.
C: #12 Luka Mirkovic (6'11) JR.
LAST TIME OUT:
In their last game, Northwestern beat up Boston College by a score of 85-67. The Wildcats finished with all five starters in double-figure scoring. In the win, Northwestern knocked down 15 three-pointers.
Northwestern owns the all-time series with Washington State, 3-2. Their last meeting was in the 1996 Rainbow Classic. Washington State won that game, 68-52.
QUOTABLES: Washington State head coach Ken Bone in a statement on DeAngelo Casto
"I am disappointed in DeAngelo as he let himself and his teammates down," said Bone. "Neither myself nor the team will have further comment as our sole focus is the game against Northwestern and the opportunity to reach the NIT semifinals in New York."
KEY PLAYER FOR THE WILDCATS: John Shurna
In his last three games, John Shurna shown a glimpse of his old self, leading many to believe that he is finally back to full health. Shurna tallied 25 against Ohio State, 23 against Milwaukee, and 20 against Boston College. In those three games, he has shot 53% from the field.
The Wildcats have greatly benefitted from Shurna's hot stroke. NU needs more of Shurna to beat a tough Washington State team.
KEY PLAYER FOR THE COUGARS: Klay Thompson
This seems like an obvious pick, but Washington State needs a strong game from Thompson now more so than ever. With DeAngelo Casto out for Wednesday's game, Thompson's workload will be doubled. The hybrid guard/forward will have to pick up Casto's load on offense and defense.
So far this season, Thompson has delivered to all expectations. He is one of the main reasons why Washington State has had such a successful season. But through most of the season, Thompson has had Casto by his side. On Wednesday, his day just got a lot more difficult.
KEY FOR A WIN: Don't Let Up
Simply put, Northwestern is playing some good basketball entering Wednesday's game. The ‘Cats have won four of their last five games, and have found a great rhythm to their game. They need to keep that going into Pullman.
The Princeton offense looked better than ever against Boston College. NU needs a similar performance to beat another quality opponent, Washington State. If they can stay hot, then they will be moving on to New York City.