Huskies Look for Second-Straight Win at Chicago State Wednesday

GO HUSKIES Jeremy Landers chipped in six points in NIU's win over North Dakota.
Jeremy Landers chipped in six points in NIU's win over North Dakota.

Jan. 5, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (3-8) AT CHICAGO STATE (5-10) » January 6, 2010 » 7 p.m. » Chicago, Ill.

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Arena: Jones Convocation Center (7,000)
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Central Standard Time
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (Flagship WLBK, 1360, DeKalb)
Social Media Coverage:;
Series Record/Streak: NIU leads, 21-0/W21

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois (3-8) will look to capture its third win in the past four games, when the Huskies travel to the Windy City to take on host Chicago State (5-10) at the Jones Convocation Center Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. The Huskies are 21-0 all-time versus Chicago State.

NIU is coming off Saturday's convincing 66-45 win over visiting North Dakota. Junior guard Xavier Silas poured in a game-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including a career-high six three-pointers, as the Huskies recorded their first wire-to-wire victory of the season.

Silas' 24 points led all scorers. Junior center Sean Kowal and freshman guard Tony Nixon each chipped in eight points, and sophomore forward Michael Fakuade scored seven points and collected a career-high four blocks. Sophomore forward Lee Fisher scored five points, all from the free throw line, and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds in his third-straight starting assignment.

Northern Illinois will open Mid-American Conference play on the road at Ball State on Saturday (Jan. 9) beginning at 1 p.m. The Cardinals are off to a 6-5 start this season, and five of those wins have taken place at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind. Ball State defeated Maryland Eastern Shore (56-47) on Dec. 28, and also played Temple on Nov. 24, dropping a 66-46 road decision. The Cardinals play at Dayton Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST.

Northern Illinois and Chicago State will be going head-to-head in the Windy City for the first time since Nov. 29, 1997 on Wednesday ... The Huskies and Cougars share three common opponents this season, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Northwestern ... Saturday's game marks the regularly scheduled non-conference finale for the Huskies -- NIU will play one more non-conference game in late February in the ESPNU BracketBusters series, also on the road ... The Huskies have made three trips to the Chicagoland region during the non-conference slate, also visiting Northwestern (11/13/09) and Illinois-Chicago (12/19/09) ... Senior center Ante Dzepina enters Wednesday's contest with 99 career rebounds in his one-plus year career at NIU, and is just one carom 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 forwards Michael Fakuade and Lee Fisher, who have each started the past four games, enter Wednesday's contest with 94 career rebounds a piece, just six short of 100.

» Pick up its first road win of the season
» Win back-to-back contests for the first time this season
» Record its first win over an in-state foe this season

» Drop its 41st road game in the last 46 tries, dating back to the 2006-07 campaign
» Lose to Chicago State for the first time in program history
» Drop to 0-5 versus in-state non-conference foes this season

Northern Illinois enters Wednesday's game with a 3-8 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. The Huskies are 0-5 on the road.

Through 11 games, the Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 17.3 points per game in six starts this season. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 10.4 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per contest while shooting nearly 41 percent (.402) from the field, and almost 74 percent (.738) from the free throw line. Junior center Sean Kowal has added 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on a 48.9 percent effort from the field.

NIU is averaging 60.8 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 67.4 points per contest. The Huskies are shooting 38.8 percent from the field, 24.2 percent from three-point range and 57.3 percent from the free throw line. NIU is out-rebounding its opponents by more than one carom (+1.7) per game, and is averaging 16.5 turnovers per game.

On the road, the Huskies are averaging 51.6 points per game (nearly nine points below their season average), and are being out-rebounded, 38.2-36.8. In three road games this season, Silas is averaging a team-high 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.

Chicago State, a member of the Great West Conference, is 5-10 this season, with a 3-2 mark at home. Carl Montgomery is averaging a team-high 13.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, while Christian Wall has added 12.0 points per contest to go along with a team-high 36 assists.

CSU has played a challenging schedule that includes the likes of Iowa State, Nebraska and Tulsa. The Cougars are coming off Monday's 59-47 loss at Eastern Michigan -- Montgomery and Wall each scored 10 points, but the Cougars shot just 34.7 percent from the field, and committed 21 turnovers.

Chicago State is averaging 61.3 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 71.1 points per contest. The Cougars are out-rebounding their opponents by nearly three (37.3-34.7) caroms per game. CSU has shot 38.3 percent from the field through 15 games, and allowed its opponents to shoot nearly 46 percent (.453).

Northern Illinois boasts a convincing 24-1 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, are 2-0 all-time versus North Dakota, after last Saturday's 66-45 win at the Convocation Center.

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 six contests that he has been eligible to play in.

After averaging 25 points, three rebounds, two assists, 1.5 steals and one block per game in two non-conference home contests last week, Northern Illinois junior guard Xavier Silas captured his first-career Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor, the league office announced Monday afternoon. Silas shot a combined 53.3 percent (16-30) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-19) from three-point range and 81.8 percent (9-11) from the free throw line versus No. 18/19 Temple (12/30/09), a hard-fought 70-60 loss, and in a 66-45 wire-to-wire win over North Dakota last Saturday.

NIU's defensive effort against North Dakota was among one of the best single-game performances in the seven-year playing history of the Convo. The Fighting Sioux shot just 30 percent (12-40), the lowest defensive field goal percentage for NIU in the 83 games the Huskies have played in the facility. It also marked the lowest single-game output for field goals (12), and tied the lowest point total for an opponent over those seven seasons. NIU held an opponent under 50 points in the game for the first time since Jan. 26, 2006, when the Huskies limited MAC-West foe Central Michigan to just 43 points.

While the Huskies' team defensive performance was record setting against North Dakota, several individual players set season and/or career high marks in various categories in the game. They are as follows: Xavier Silas converted a career-high six three-pointers, and posted season bests in assists (4) and steals (2); Jeremy Landers recorded season highs in points (6), field goals (3) and steals (3); Lee Fisher corralled a career best nine rebounds in a season high 28 minutes; Michael Fakuade tied his career high with four blocks, while Darion "Jake" Anderson (2 steals) and Tony Nixon (3 assists) posted season bests in steals and assists, respectively.

The countdown has officially begun. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson enters Wednesday's game with 947 career points, and is just 53 tallies away from becoming the 28th player in NIU history to score 1,000 or more points. If he accomplishes the feat this season, Anderson would be just the 15th player in the NIU basketball annals to reach the 1,000-point plateau before the end of his third season. Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points (947), rebounds (380), assists (179), steals (80), field goals (314), three-point field goals (73) and free throws (246) made, and total minutes played (2,058/30.3 mpg).

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 four games, and in those contests, is averaging 8.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, while shooting 58.8 percent (10-17) from the field.

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 six 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 (7.2 rpg). Anderson became just the third NIU guard in the Division I era to lead the Huskies in rebounding last season.

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 7.5 steals per game, which would qualify as the ninth-best single-season average in program history.

As simple as it may sound, the Northern Illinois men's basketball team is at its best when it is shooting the ball well. The Huskies are 3-0 when shooting a better percentage than their opponent this season, and 17-6 over the past three campaigns.

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).

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.

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 16-6. When NIU trails at intermission, it is just 2-42 the past two-plus seasons.

When Northern Illinois has been on the positive side of the rebounding ledger the past two seasons, it has enjoyed significant success. Eighteen of the Huskies' 19 wins under head coach Ricardo Patton have occurred when NIU has out-rebounded its opponent.

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.



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