Texas State (4-6) at Northwestern (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 17, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: TSU 3-3, Northwestern 4-3. Away Record: TSU 0-1, Northwestern 1-0. Neutral Record: TSU 1-2, Northwestern 2-0. Conference Record: TSU 0-0, Northwestern 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will try to move on from the devastating injury resulting in the loss of Drew Crawford for the season, when the Texas State Bobcats come to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Monday.
After scoring just six points in a loss to Butler last week it was announced that Crawford would need surgery on his right shoulder and would miss the remainder of the season. Although Crawford will seek a medical hardship waiver and could be back next season, the Wildcats will now need to find answers with one of their top contributors out for the year. The Wildcat have lost three of four games coming into this matchup, which is the second of a five-game homestand. The Wildcats are 7-3 overall but have had modest results (4-3) at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Texas State won't have much time to recover from a 75-63 loss to in-state rival Texas with just a day off between games. This contest is the second of a three-game road trip for the Bobcats that ends against Central Michigan on Thursday. The Bobcats are 4-6 overall this season and have lost three of their last four games. Texas State hasn't been battle tested on the road as the loss to Texas was the first game away from San Marcos for the Bobcats.
This matchup will mark the first time these two programs have been paired on a basketball court.
Despite holding the Longhorns to just 39.7 percent shooting, Texas State couldn't upset Texas due to its own offensive deficiencies. The Bobcats hit only 34.5 percent of their own shots including a 5-of-20 effort from beyond the arc. Texas State was beat up on the inside and outscored 34-18 on points in the paint and 22-4 on points off turnovers. Matt Staff paced the Bobcats with 14 points, but needed 13 shots to do so.
Texas State compares favorably on the offensive end of the floor to the rest of the Western Athletic Conference as the Bobcats score more points than any other league foe (73.7 ppg). That scoring total has come despite the team netting just 41.3 percent of its shots. The Bobcats rank ninth nationally with 76.0 possessions per 40 minutes. Still Texas State still only has a scoring margin of (+0.4) and has been outrebounded by a -4.2 margin. Staff (16.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has played well and has used his size (6-foot-10) to bully his way to easy shots near the basket as he shoots at a 52.3 percent clip. Staff can also step outside the 3-point line where he shoots at a 47.1 percent rate. Joel Wright (14.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is another strong scorer in the frontcourt, while three other players are scoring at least eight points per game.
Northwestern was hounded by Butler and managed to connect on only 32.7 percent of its shot from the field including a 7-of-24 showing from beyond the arc in the loss last Saturday. The Wildcats also had a 40-34 deficit on the boards and were outscored by a 34-20 margin from the paint. The Wildcats trailed for the entire game and lost despite getting a 21-point effort from Dave Sobolewski.
Losing Crawford (13.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg) for the year will be a tough blow for Northwestern. A pair of freshmen forwards will have the duty of replacing Crawford. Kale Abrahamson (4.0 ppg) is slotted to start the game for Crawford and has played in all 10 games this season. Mike Turner (2.2 ppg) has also seen time in all 10 games this year and will need to improve his efforts to help ease the loss. The Wildcats still have their top scorer healthy in Reggie Hearn (14.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Sobolewski (11.4 ppg, 4.1 apg) has been a solid scorer and distributor but will need to create more shots for himself going forward. Jared Swopshire (9.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) has started all 10 games and is the top rebounder on the roster. Losing a major scoring option doesn't bode well for Northwestern which ranks ninth and 10th in the Big Ten in scoring (67.6 ppg) and field goal percentage (42.4), respectively. Strong defense has carried the team, as the Wildcats let up only 59.1 points per game on 39.6 percent shooting.
The loss of Crawford is one that Northwestern will struggle to overcome all year especially once the Wildcats get into their Big Ten schedule. For now the Wildcats should have enough offensive punch, especially if players like Sobolewski and Hearn bring their games to yet another level.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 68, Texas State 58
12/17 10:39:50 ET