Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 12/18/11

Northwestern basketball closed out the home portion of their non conference schedule tonight with a 87-72 win over the Eastern Illinois Panthers, pushing their record to 10-1.

Meaning they’re ready for their second big test of the season- at #24 Creighton. The Blue Jays, favorites to win the Missouri Valley, also have only one loss on the season.

NU failed pretty badly in their first big test, losing 69-41 to the #7 Baylor Bears at home two weeks ago.

Maybe this time will be different?

John Shurna had a career high 32 points and broke the school record for three-pointers made in a single game. He shot lights out going 11-16 from the field, 9-12 from behind the arc.

“I couldn’t make anything yesterday, but I think I have a lot of great teammates who had a lot of confidence in me today,” Shurna said a day after going 3-14 from the field, 1-9 from behind the arc versus Central Connecticut State.

This game ended a stretch in which the Cats played three games in four days, winning all three. The set-up is a rarity for a non-tournament situation.

“We’re pretty happy, obviously we could have played a little better today, a little better yesterday, and that’s the mark of a good team, even when we don’t play so well, we still get the W. With every game our confidence keeps growing,” said Luka Mirkovic who had 18 points and ten rebounds on 7-12 shooting.

The 10-1 start matches the start of the 2009-10 season, in which the Cats achieved their first national ranking in nearly 50 years. The best start in school history is the 1930-31 Wildcats who started off 12-0. What a coincidence that economic conditions in this country are very similar to how they were then.

Northwestern really needs to get this signature win at Creighton on Thursday night. If they do that, it’ll help the Tournament resume greatly, and they could probably get in the dance via an at large berth as long as they go above .500 in the Big Ten.

Lose this game, and they’ll have to go minimum 11-7 in conference just to be in the conversation.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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