Revenge -- and then some

Needing to run the table for the rest of the regular season, the Wildcats started by running Iowa out of the gym. Northwestern looked nothing like the squad that lost earlier this month in Iowa City, jumping on the Hawkeyes early and leading by at least 20 most of the way. John Shurna notched 29 -- including 18 in the first half -- as NU ended the home Big Ten slate in style.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- In Northwestern's final Big Ten home game of the season, NU sophomore John Shurna scored 18 first-half points on 7-of-8 shooting and eventually finished with 29 as the 'Cats led wire-to-wire in a 74-57 dismissal of Iowa Thursday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. With the victory, the 2009-10 Wildcats assured themselves a place in school history by setting the NU record for most wins in a single regular` season with 18.

It was the 12th time this season and the seventh time in Big Ten play that Shurna has topped the 20-point mark. The sophomore also recorded five rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes of action.

Jeremy Nash added 15 points for NU while Luka Mirkovic and Michael Thompson added 12 apiece. Thompson also handed out six assists.

Northwestern (18-10, 7-9) held a three-point edge in the first half before Nash connected on a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner to make the score 11-6 in NU's favor.

That remained the score for the next two minutes before Shurna began to go on his tear, getting a series of high-percentage shots within the framework of NU's offense. It began with back-to-back alley-oop layups, first from Thompson and again from Drew Crawford on the next possession. Shurna then buried consecutive 3-pointers to give the 'Cats a 17-7 advantage.

Northwestern continued to find good shots on offense, with Nash sandwiching a pair of driving lay-ins around a third by Thompson as NU completed what seemed like an effortless 23-5 run.

By contrast, Iowa's offense was constantly disrupted by NU's varying defenses, which forced the visitors into 10 first-half turnovers. The Wildcats shot 63 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and outscored Iowa 22-6 in the points in the paint category.

The Hawkeyes opened the scoring in the second half with back-to-back jumpers before the 'Cats answered with a jumper by Shurna and a nifty post move by Mirkovic to regain a 20-point advantage, 43-23.

The ball continued to bounce in Northwestern's favor the rest of the way. On the first play out of a 30-second timeout, the 'Cats perfectly executed a backdoor lob from Thompson to Shurna. Shurna was fouled in the act of finishing the play and his dunk, which at first caromed off the back of the rim, fell through the hoop on the way down to set up an old-fashioned three-point play.

The action grew a little choppy in the middle of the second half and Iowa was able to creep within 15 at the nine-minute mark on a jumper by Matt Gatens. But Thompson answered on the other end with a crafty running jump hook in the lane and a Mirkovic layup on the next possession upped NU's lead to 60-41 with 7:49 to play.

The visiting Hawkeyes (9-19, 3-12) could get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

This weekend, Northwestern sets off for its final road contest of the year (sic), an 11 a.m. CT tilt at Penn State on Sunday. The Big Ten Network will carry the broadcast live from State College.

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