Notes: Northwestern-NC State

Some quick hits leading up to Wednesday's road game.

— Expect Northwestern guard/forward Drew Crawford to play in Wednesday's game against North Carolina State. He was sidelined by back spasms in the loss to UCLA, but participated in practice on Monday and Tuesday. Chris Collins admitted the Wildcats looked lost without him: "You're always more confident when your big brother's at your side."

— Because of the quick turnaround, Collins said the team focused more on talking points, like the porous defense against UCLA. He stressed the importance of good "habits," which can erode without the usual amount of practice time. There's one positive: Responsibility fell on one side of the ball. "It wasn't the offense. It was our defense," Collins said of the recent losses.

— Collins said that despite his incredible play of late, Jershon Cobb can focus on cutting down his turnovers. It brought up an interesting point; they're already well behind opponents in terms of turnover margin. Sanjay Lumpkin has 15 off the ball, which may be the most detrimental number. And watching the team, you get the feeling they're leaving points on the floor with sloppy ball handling.

— The Wildcats face an intense stretch, with this being the sixth game in 14 days. The fatigue shows in various ways, especially on a team that now relies on just eight players to fill nearly every minute. Worse, they lose opportunities to practice in Collins' new system. It's been quite the learning experience for this team, which will have dealt with adversity by the time Big Ten season opens.

— We've played up the "Collins' return to North Carolina" storyline, given that he's familiar with NC State and coach Mark Gottfried. Really, this should be one of the more fiercely contested games of the ACC/Big Ten challenge — especially considering NC State's loss to North Carolina Central two weeks ago.

— Dave Sobolewski said Tuesday's practice would be primarily devoted to "scout" work, with the second unit emulating the Wolfpack's style of play. Tomorrow, expect an intense dose of star forward T.J. Warren, who averages about 23 points per game on 54 percent shooting. Freshman guard Cat Barber's averaging 13 and almost four assists in the early season.

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