Sobolewski leads Northwestern past Iowa 83-64

ANDREW SELIGMAN AP Sports Writer Published:

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Opponents know they need to focus on John Shurna and Drew Crawford when they play Northwestern. They might want to pay attention to Dave Sobolewski too.

The freshman scored a season-high 23 points, and Northwestern won its third straight, beating Iowa 83-64 on Thursday night.

Shurna added 17 points, Reggie Hearn scored 16 and all five starters finished in double figures as the Wildcats (15-8, 5-6 Big Ten) came away with an easy victory.

"It's a great feeling," Sobolewski said. "And when your teammates are hitting shots too ... it's real exciting."

Northwestern built a nine-point halftime lead and then blew this one open, matching its longest conference winning streak since a three-game run late in the 2008-09 season.

Sobolewski passed his previous high by three points. Shurna set the tone in the early going after averaging 26 points in wins over Nebraska and Illinois, and the Wildcats shot 56.3 percent overall while hitting 13 of 25 3-pointers.

"Teams have been keying on John and Drew all year," said guard Alex Marcotullio, who finished with 13 points and six assists. "It's time for other players to step up."

Aaron White led Iowa with 17 points and 12 rebounds, but the Hawkeyes (13-12, 5-7) were simply overmatched. Besides watching Northwestern nail shot after shot, the Hawkeyes committed 18 turnovers in a performance that left coach Fran McCaffery struggling to find words.

"What do you want me to say?" he said.

Actually, he had quite a bit to say. He acknowledged the matchup problems Northwestern causes with its smaller lineup, reliance on the 3-pointer and the Princeton offense.

Even in bad seasons, the Wildcats usually hung in against more talented teams. And they haven't been bad for a few years.

"It's a tough lineup to match up to," McCaffery said. "They've got some drivers. They've got plenty of shooters, and we play more of a traditional lineup.

"Somebody that's not used to guarding a guy like Shurna is going to end up on Shurna right off the bat. If somebody's not used to guarding a guy like Marcotullio, that's where he's going to wind up."

Meanwhile, Matt Gatens insisted Iowa can still make a run. He thought the Hawkeyes were poised to do just that after back-to-back wins over Minnesota and Penn State, but the run screeched to a halt Thursday.

"It's disappointing," Gatens said. "The effort, executing the game plan -- it's just disappointing. It was a great opportunity to get to .500 in the league.

"We let it get away, but it's not over. We have a lot of winnable games on our schedule."

Shurna scored 11 points in the first half as Northwestern built a 38-29 lead, hitting three 3-pointers and wowing the crowd with a neat block and an acrobatic layup in the closing minutes.

Crawford added nine of his 11 points, and Sobolewski and Hearn had eight apiece.

Gatens, Iowa's leading scorer, was a nonfactor in the early going, with just five of his 15 points in the half. His only basket was a 3-pointer that cut Northwestern's lead to 24-23 with about 7 minutes left, but the Wildcats responded by scoring 12 of the next 14 points.

Shurna had the fans roaring when he nailed a 3-pointer and then raced the other way to block Gatens' 3 from the corner. Hearn then hit one from long range to make it 36-25 with 2:23 left.

Shurna had them cheering again in the closing minute when he went back-door and buried a right-handed reverse layup while getting knocked to the floor by Josh Oglesby. He missed the free throw, but with a 38-27 lead, Northwestern was in a good spot.

For Iowa?

"There wasn't anything good about tonight," McCaffery said.