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Northwestern’s Jared Swopshire has to be the top Cat

Northwestern is 8-2 when senior forward Jared Swopshire (12) scores double figures 4-6 when he doesn’t. | Darrell Hoemann~AP

Northwestern is 8-2 when senior forward Jared Swopshire (12) scores in double figures and 4-6 when he doesn’t. | Darrell Hoemann~AP

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Updated: February 27, 2013 6:17AM

Jared Swopshire is not at Louisville anymore. The Northwestern senior forward and grad student gets that now. He’s no longer a contributor on a team bound for the Final Four.

He needs to be the Wildcats’ best player for his new team to consistently compete with Big Ten foes.

“He was a role player at Louisville and a good one,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “From Day 1, we’ve been telling him to be aggressive. [He has] to do more here. He can dribble. He can pass and shoot. He can’t be one of the guys. He has to be more than that.”

The Wildcats (12-8, 3-4 Big Ten) beat two ranked teams last week and hung tough against No. 2 Indiana. A victory Saturday against Nebraska (10-10, 1-6) would even their conference record after a seven-game stretch in which they’ve played five ranked opponents.

But they need Swopshire to lead the way like he did during the upset Wednesday of No. 12 Minnesota when he had 16 points and eight rebounds.

“When he scores, we seem to win,” point guard Dave Sobolewski said. When he doesn’t score, we don’t play very well. It’s huge for us when he can score 12, 14 or 18 points. That’s normally a good sign for us.”

Swopshire is averaging 12.3 points and shooting 50 percent when the Wildcats win. He shoots 34 percent and averages 5.6 points in losses.

Northwestern is 8-2 when he scores in double figures and 4-6 when he doesn’t.

“It hasn’t been that tough,” Swopshire said of expanding his role. “I wasn’t a role player before college. I’m just getting back to old times, I guess.”

Swopshire was a scorer during his senior year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and was named one of the top 75 recruits in the country by

He averaged 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore before sitting out his junior year with a groin injury. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes last season.

“He’s not floating out there,” Carmody said. “He’s starting to realize his role. He’s not a complementary player. He’s one of the guys that has to produce for us to do well.

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