Huskies Ring in the New Year by Hosting North Dakota Saturday

GO HUSKIES Anderson has scored 15 points in each of the last two games.
GO HUSKIES
Anderson has scored 15 points in each of the last two games.
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 1, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (2-8) VS. NORTH DAKOTA (2-12) » January 2, 2010 » 3 p.m. » DeKalb, Ill.

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Arena: Convocation Center (9,100)
Tip-off: 3 p.m. Central Standard Time
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (Flagship WLBK, 1360, DeKalb)
Cybercast: Huskie All-Access (WATCH LIVE!)
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com (Gametracker)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: NIU leads, 1-0/W1

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois (2-8) will look to kick off the 2010 calendar year on a high note Saturday afternoon, when the Huskies host North Dakota (2-12) in their third-straight home game beginning at 3 p.m. The matinee marks the final home game of the non-conference season for the Huskies.

NIU is coming off Wednesday night's hard fought loss to No. 18/19 Temple at the Convocation Center. Junior Xavier Silas ignited a mid-game comeback, but his game-high 26 points were not enough to hold off the Owls. Silas' 26 points marked a career high -- his eight field goals were also a career best. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson added 15 points and seven rebounds. Temple was led by Juan Fernandez' 24 points on 7-12 shooting, including four three-pointers.

The Huskies fell behind by as many as 18 points in the first half, but finished the opening stanza on a 15-4 run over the final 5:54, and pulled within seven (31-24) at halftime. NIU cut the lead to just two (33-31) with just over 14 minutes remaining in the second half, but could draw no closer.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will travel to the Windy City for the third time this season, facing host Chicago State at the Jones Convocation Center next Wednesday (Jan. 6) beginning at 7 p.m. The Cougars are 5-8 on the season, and have won two-of their last three overall. CSU, a member of the Great West Conference along with North Dakota, is 3-2 at home. NIU posted a 93-81 win over the Cougars last season (12/6/08) in DeKalb, and is 21-0 all-time versus Chicago State.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois and North Dakota will be meeting for the first time in nearly 30 years Saturday -- the Huskies posted a 70-56 win over the Fighting Sioux on Dec. 3, 1980 at Chick Evans Field House ... The Huskies and Fighting Sioux share two common opponents this season, Northern Iowa, which is ranked #2 in the latest Mid-Major Top-25 poll, and Chicago State ... Northern Illinois is 40-42 at the Convocation Center since playing its first game at the facility on Nov. 23, 2002 ... The Huskies have compiled a 19-13 record against non-conference opposition at the Convocation Center over those seven seasons ... Saturday's game marks the non-conference home finale for the Huskies -- NIU will play one more non-conference game in late February in the ESPNU BracketBusters series, but it will be played on the road ... Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno enters Saturday's game with 99 career assists, and is just one helper short of 100 for his career ... Senior center Ante Dzepina enters the contest with 97 career rebounds in his one-plus year career at NIU, and is just three caroms away from equaling 100 ... Senior forward Najul Ervin has 192 points, and is eight points away from becoming the third active NIU player to boast at least 200 career points and 200 rebounds -- he would join Darion "Jake" Anderson and Sean Kowal in that department ... Sophomore forward/center Michael Fakuade, who has started the past three games and scored his 100th career point against Temple, enters Saturday's game with 91 career rebounds, just nine short of 100, in only 30 career games ... Junior center Sean Kowal is slated to play his 40th career game today versus North Dakota.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Pick up its third home win of the season
» Win its seventh home game in the last 10 tries, dating back to Feb. 15, 2009
» Improve to 2-0 all-time versus North Dakota

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Lose its seventh home game versus a non-conference opponent in the past nine outings
» Drop to 2-4 at home this season
» Lose two-straight home games for the first time since January 2009 (1/24/09 and 1/31/09)

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Saturday's game with a 2-8 overall record. The Huskies have faced six teams that appeared in the postseason following the 2008-09 season, including three that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. NIU is 2-3 at home, defeating Tennessee State (11/20/09) and Maryland Eastern Shore (12/22/09), and dropping decisions to Southeast Missouri (11/22/09), Bradley (12/2/09) and Temple (12/30/09).

Through 10 games, the Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 16.0 points per game in five starts this season. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 11.4 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per contest while shooting nearly 42 percent (.411) from the field, and almost 74 percent (.738) from the free throw line. Junior center Sean Kowal has added 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on a 49.4 percent effort from the field.

NIU is averaging 60.3 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 69.6 points per contest. The Huskies are shooting 38.4 percent from the field, 22.1 percent from three-point range and 56.3 percent from the free throw line. NIU is out-rebounding its opponents by more than one carom (+1.3) per game, and is averaging 17.1 turnovers per game.

At home, the Huskies are averaging 69.0 points per game (nearly nine points above their season average), and are out-rebounding their opponents, 39.6-35.6. Anderson has been on a tear at the Convocation Center, nearly averaging a double double with 16.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

SCOUTING THE FIGHTING SIOUX
North Dakota, a member of the Great West Conference, is 2-12 this season, with an 0-4 mark on the road. Travis Mertens is averaging a team-high 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while Travis Bledsoe (8.4 ppg) and Patrick Mitchell (8.3 ppg) have helped handle the bulk of the scoring for the Fighting Sioux.

UND has played a challenging schedule that includes the likes of Green Bay, Drake, Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The Fighting Sioux are coming off a 69-58 win over St. Olaf College on Dec. 29, breaking an eight-game losing streak.

North Dakota is averaging 57.6 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 69.6 points per contest. The Fighting Sioux have been out-rebounded by an average of 3.6 rebounds per game.

VERSUS THE GREAT WEST
Northern Illinois boasts a convincing 23-1 all-time record versus opponents currently affiliated with the Great West Conference. The Huskies are 1-1 all-time versus Cal Poly, 21-0 against Chicago State, and as mentioned, are 1-0 all-time versus today's opponent, North Dakota.

START ME UP
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton has used six different starting combinations this season, a mixture that includes 11 different players. While not one player has started all 10 games, junior guard Xavier Silas has recorded starts in each of the five contests that he has been eligible to play in.

Silas has scored a combined 45 points in the last two games.


HOME SWEET HOME FOR PATTON
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton puts new meaning to the word "confines" when it comes to a home-court advantage. The third-year Huskie mentor owns a 142-62 (.696 winning percentage) home record as a college head coach, dating back to his 12-year run at Colorado. Fourteen of Patton's 18 wins at NIU have taken place at the Convocation Center.

FINDING HIS GROOVE
Junior guard Xavier Silas, who has played in just five games this season after returning from a fractured hand that he suffered in the season opener at Northwestern, is beginning to find his groove, and over the last two contests, has displayed his ability to take over a game offensively. Silas has averaged 22.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the contests against Maryland Eastern Shore and Temple. That offensive output has come on a 41.2 percent effort from the field, and a 87.5 percent showing from the free throw line. Silas has led the Huskies in scoring during four-of the five games he has played in, and his 26 points versus Temple were an individual season high mark for NIU.

UTILIZING THE PLAYING TIME
Northern Illinois sophomore forward/center Michael Fakuade, who started six of the final 10 games of the 2008-09 season and shot nearly 64 percent (.632) from the field, has found his way back into the starting lineup in his second season in a Huskie uniform, and is taking advantage. Fakuade has earned starts in each of the past three games, and in those contests, is averaging 8.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, while shooting a blistering 64.3 percent (9-14) from the field. In games he has started the past two seasons, Fakuade has averaged 7.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest, and has shot 62.5 percent from the field.

ONE OF THE NATION'S BEST
Junior Darion "Jake" Anderson, one of the Mid-American Conference's most consistent scorers the past two seasons, has seen his scoring average dip by more than four points per game this season, but has been on a tear in the rebounding department. The 6-foot-2 guard currently boasts the nation's best rebounding average for a player standing 6-foot-2 or less (7.4 rpg). Anderson became just the third NIU guard in the Division I era to lead the Huskies in rebounding last season.

CONSISTENCY ACROSS THE BOARD
Darion "Jake" Anderson, the Huskies' leader this season in points (114), rebounds per game (7.4), assists per game (2.9) and free throw percentage (.738), enters Saturday's game as the only player in the Mid-American Conference to be ranked in the individual top-15 of the league in scoring (11.4 ppg), rebounding (7.4 rpg) and assists per game (2.9). Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points (947), rebounds (375), assists (173), steals (80), field goals (314), three-point field goals (73) and free throws (246) made, and total minutes played (2,031/30.3 mpg).

STEALIN' THE SHOW
The Huskies finished the 2008-09 season with 239 steals, which was the second-highest single-season total in program history, trailing just the 259 steals recorded during the 1994-95 campaign. NIU's 8.0 steal per game average was also the third-best total for a single-season. Darion "Jake" Anderson (46 steals) and Mike DiNunno (44) combined for 90 steals, with both efforts ranking in the top-15 individual marks in NIU history. This season, NIU is averaging 7.2 steals per game, which would qualify as the 11th-best single-season average in program history.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE
Northern Illinois' junior tandem of Darion "Jake" Anderson and Sean Kowal have posted a combined three double-doubles in the early going this season. Anderson's sixth-career double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) came against Maryland Eastern Shore (12/22/09), while Kowal secured his third-career double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the previous contest versus Tennessee State (Nov. 20). Anderson also tallied a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds against Southeast Missouri (11/22/09).

NIXON'S EARLY IMPACT
Freshman guard Tony Nixon, the lone member of Ricardo Patton's 2009-10 recruiting class, has wasted no time getting adjusted to college basketball. The 6-4, 200-pounder has started five games, and recorded respective season-high scoring outputs of 10 and 16 points against Illinois (Nov. 17) and Tennessee State (Nov. 20). Nixon is also averaging 21.2 minutes per game, fifth-highest on the team.

SEASON #15 FOR COACH "P"
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton will be embarking on his 15th season as a Division I head coach in the 2009-10 campaign. After spending 12 years as the mentor at Colorado, Patton was hired as the Huskies' 26th head coach on March 19, 2007.

FIRST-HALF SUCCESS IS KEY
As the old cliche' goes, it's not how you start, but how you finish. But how it starts may be just as important for the Northern Illinois basketball team. Under head coach Ricardo Patton, when the Huskies lead at halftime, they have compiled a record of 15-6. When NIU trails at intermission, it is just 2-42 the past two-plus seasons.

CONTROLLING THE BOARDS
When Northern Illinois has been on the positive side of the rebounding ledger the past two seasons, it has enjoyed significant success. Seventeen of the Huskies' 18 wins under head coach Ricardo Patton have occurred when NIU has out-rebounded its opponent.

HUSKIES PICKED SECOND IN MAC-WEST
One year after being picked to finish sixth in the Mid-American Conference West Division, Northern Illinois was slotted second in the 2009-10 preseason media poll, as announced by the conference office on Oct. 28. In addition, junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson was named to the preseason West Division All-MAC team for the second-consecutive season. The Huskies were picked second behind division favorite Central Michigan, who swept NIU last season.

BACK IN CARDINAL AND BLACK
In 2009-10, Northern Illinois returns 88 percent of its scoring, 79 percent of its rebounding and 87 percent of its assist totals from the 2008-09 season. The Huskies return 12 letterwinners, including four starters, and back are the Huskies' top-three scorers (Darion "Jake Anderson, 16.9 ppg; Mike DiNunno, 11.9 ppg and Sean Kowal, 9.4 ppg).

 

 

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