Inside The Matchup: Texas Southern

Northwestern faces a tough stretch of three games in a four-day span. Coming off a loss against No. 7 Baylor, the Wildcats look to get back in the win column on Thursday night, when they host Texas Southern at Welsh-Ryan Arena. PurpleWildcats.com takes you inside the matchup.

After a break for final exams, Northwestern is back in action against Texas Southern. The Wildcats are looking to rebound after a blowout loss against Baylor and will open a string of three home games in four days.

This stretch will be crucial in building momentum, as the Cats have two big away games to close out 2011, against Creighton and Ohio State.

LAST MEETING:

This is the first meeting between the Northwestern and Texas Southern.

KEY PLAYER FOR THE WILDCATS: Luka Mirkovic

Mirkovic has been inconsistent this year, and while he looked to be on the upswing in games against Georgia Tech and Tulsa, he had a very bad game against Baylor.

The Bears' frontcourt was too athletic for Mirkovic on both ends of the floor, and he couldn't defend the Baylor big men or get anything going offensively.

This stretch against weaker competition — beginning today against Texas Southern — gives Mirkovic a chance go gain confidence and get back to where he was earlier in the season.

KEY FOR THE TIGERS: Dominate the boards

The key to stopping Northwestern is disrupting its rhythm inside, getting second chance points and forcing the Cats to shoot outside.

Baylor was able to disrupt NU's inside game — especially Mirkovic's — and force the Cats to take low-percentage shots. If the Tigers can dominate the boards, they'll have an opportunity to stay in the game until the end.

KEY TO A WILDCAT WIN: Improve outside shooting

It's impossible to predict how Mirkovic will play inside, and as always, NU's gameplan will likely be centered around outside shooting.

The Cats struggled tremendously from beyond the arc against Baylor, shooting just 15.4-percent from that range. That's abnormal for this team, which consistently finds a way to overcome its struggles inside with strong outside shooting.

NU can't afford to shoot that badly in Big Ten play and it must use this game to regain confidence shooting from three.


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