Northwestern opened its Big Ten conference schedule against Nebraska this season with a bang, and will look to close out its regular season in similar fashion versus the Cornhuskers.
With a win, the ‘Cats would pick up their 20th regular season victory, breaking the school record set in 2009-10. Northwestern picked up its 19th win, tying the record, against Penn State on Thursday night, beating the Nittany Lions 71-61 in Happy Valley.
Against Penn State, the Wildcats used a big first half, after which they led 42-27, to propel them to a victory. Tre Demps led the way with 23 points and Bryant McIntosh added 17.
Northwestern opened up conference play against the Huskers in Lincoln, winning 81-72. With Alex Olah out with a stress fracture, Dererk Pardon played just his second game of the year, putting up a double-double with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
The freshman, along with the rest of the team, destroyed the Huskers on the glass 40-25, leading to 19 second-chance points and propelling the ‘Cats to a win after being down three at halftime.
Since that game though, Pardon has reached double-figures just twice, but along with Alex Olah, the two ‘Cats big men will look to again punish the Cornhuskers inside. With Joey van Zegeren ruled out for the season prior to the Penn State game, it’ll be just Pardon and Olah down low.
On the other side of the ball, the ‘Cats will look to stop Nebraska’s scoring duo of Shavon Shields and Andrew White III, both of whom average more than 16 points per game. Last game, though, Northwestern was able to limit Shields, who is No. 10 all-time on Nebraska’s career scoring list, to just 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but Benny Parker stepped in to score 17 in his place.
White III though, shoots 40.7 percent from beyond the arc, and hit 5-of-8 last time around so the ‘Cats will have to make sure he doesn’t get hot. But if they can contain one of the two, Northwestern should have enough offensive firepower, especially down low, to bring home a win on Senior Day at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
KenPom gives the ‘Cats a 72 percent chance to win against the No. 105 team in the nation, with Northwestern coming in at No. 77. But both teams are shooting pretty poorly in conference play, though the ‘Cats have improved as of late, so there may be a lot of bricks bring thrown up on Sunday.
In what will be their final game at Welsh-Ryan, Tre Demps and Alex Olah have a good chance to come out on top.
WNUR’s own Ari Ross and Will Greer will have the call on Sunday, which you can catch on WNUR Sports’ UStream starting at 12:45 pm CST.