Huskies Continue Interdivision Play Wednesday at Ohio

GO HUSKIES Freshman guard Daveon Balls
GO HUSKIES
Freshman guard Daveon Balls
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 15, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (3-11, 1-1 MAC) at Ohio Bobcats (11-5, 2-0 MAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 / 6 p.m. CT (7 p.m. ET)
Site: Convocation Center • Athens, Ohio
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: OhioBobcats.com
Live Stats: OhioBobcats.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Ohio leads 29-16
Last Meeting: Feb. 1, 2012 • Ohio 67-58

WHAT'S TRENDING
• Northern Illinois is shooting 76.8 percent (63-of-82) as a team from the free-throw line in the last four games.  
Darrell Bowie is scoring 9.5 points and pulling down 4.5 rebounds while shooting 60 percent in four games as a starter. Bowie has set a new career-high in scoring in each of the four games he has started (7 at Washington Dec. 22, 8 vs. UMass Dec. 29, 10 at Miami Jan. 9 and 13 vs. Akron Jan. 12).
Travon Baker has 11 assists and just three turnovers in the past four games. In conference play, Baker has a 7.0 assist-turnover ratio, the second-best mark in the MAC.  
Kevin Gray is shooting 55.0 percent from the field since returning to the starting lineup four games ago at Washington (Dec. 22).
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 6-of-7 games this season; Nader has scored in double figures in 23 games during his career.  
• The Huskies made a season-high 21 free throws against the RedHawks, tying the best mark during the Mark Montgomery era set in Jan. 28, 2012 against Buffalo. NIU followed with its second-best mark of the season, 20, last time out against Akron.
• 10 different players have started at least one game for the Huskies with Antone Christian becoming the 10th player to make a start, making his first start of the year at Miami (Jan. 9).
• Keith and Kevin Gray have both played in 45-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

BOWIE BREAKS OUT IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Darrell Bowie is averaging 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 63.6 percent from the field in conference play.
• Bowie ranks 18th in the MAC in scoring in conference play, first among freshmen, and tied for 19th in rebounding, third among conference rookies.
• Bowie also ranks fifth in field goal percentage and is tied for 12th with 1.5 steals per game during conference play.
• Bowie has set a new career-high for points in both of NIU's league games, scoring 10 points at Miami (Jan. 9) and 13 against Akron (Jan. 12).  
• In non-conference play, Bowie averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES
• The Huskies season thus far has been a tale of two halves with NIU finding greater success after halftime.
• The Huskies are averaging nearly eight more points per game in the second half that the first half while shooting almost eight percent better from the field, nine percent better from three and 5.4 percent better from the free-throw line.
• In the opening 20 minutes this season, NIU is averaging 24.9 points while shooting 34.2 percent from the field, 24.2 percent from three and 64.8 percent from the free-throw line.
• The Huskies have 56 first half assists and 117 first half turnovers.
Abdel Nader and Akeem Springs are tied as NIU's leading scorer in the first half of games this season, each averaging 4.0 points.
• In the second half this year, NIU is averaging 32.4 points while shooting 41.9 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three and 70.2 percent from the free-throw line.
• NIU has 72 second half assists and 99 second half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is also NIU's leading second half scorer at 9.6 points.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 60.4 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 22.6 percent of the minutes.
• Preseason All-MAC selection Abdel Nader played his first game of the season at UW Milwaukee (Dec. 7) after a season-opening suspension for violation of team rules.
• Northern Illinois is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 1.4 boards per contest.  
• Northern Illinois returns its top-five scoring letterwinners and top-six rebounders from a season ago.
• 10 of the 15 players making up the Huskie roster this season are underclassmen.
• Of the five upperclassmen on NIU's roster, one will sit out this season following a transfer (Pete Rakocevic) and another had never played a Division I game until this season (Brandon Hayes).
• NIU made its first appearance in the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, playing Valparaiso at 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Huskies were one of two MAC schools, along with Kent State, that will appear in the marathon.
• The Huskies will play 10 teams that appeared in postseason play a season ago: Valpo (Horizon League regular season champs, NIT), Dayton (NIT), Milwaukee (CBI), Washington (Pac-12 regular season champs, NIT Final Four), UMass (NIT Final Four), Akron (MAC regular season champs, NIT), Bowling Green (CIT), Buffalo (CIT), Kent State (CIT) and Ohio (NCAA Sweet 16).

THE EXPERIENCE TRACKER
• Developed by StatSheet.com, "The Experience Tracker" looks at the experience per minute played by every team in the country.
• Each team's number is generated by taking the sum of minutes each player plays, multiplied by their class (1-freshmen, 2-sophomores, 3-juniors, 4-seniors) divided by the total of team minutes.
• Northern Illinois is currently the third-least experienced team in the country (1.58), behind only Arkansas-Little Rock (1.30) and Texas (1.43).
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation's least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is fourth in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.9 steals per game. In conference games, Baker has a 7.0 assist-turnover ratio, the second-best mark in the league.
• At 9.4 points per game, Akeem Springs ranks 28th in the MAC in scoring, third among freshmen.
• In conference games, Darrell Bowie ranks 18th in scoring (1st among freshmen) at 11.5 points per contest and tied for 19th in rebounding (third among freshmen) at 5.0 rebounds per game.
Kevin Gray is tied for 13th in the conference pulling down 2.0 offensive rebounds per contest.
Sam Mader is tied for 14th in the MAC with 0.8 blocks per game.
Keith Gray is tied for sixth in the conference in free-throw percentage in league games at 91.7 percent.
Aksel Bolin is shooting 75 percent from 3-point range in league play, the fourth-best mark in the MAC.
• The Huskies lead the conference in offensive rebounding averaging 13.1 offensive boards per game.
• NIU is second in defensive rebounding percentage (71.1 percent) and fifth in offensive rebounding percentage (35.0 percent).

WHAT'S BACK FOR NIU
• With its six-man returning nucleus from a season ago, the Huskies return more than 60 percent of their production for 2011-12 in most statistical categories.
• The following are NIU's percentages returning from last season: minutes (60.7 percent), scoring (62.6), rebounds (63.1), assists (47.0), blocks (71.2) and steals (57.1).
• By comparison, here are the numbers that returned at the beginning of last season from the 2010-11 campaign: minutes (33.8 percent), scoring (32.0), rebounds (31.8), assists (26.6), blocks (39.7) and steals (27.4).

ABOUT OHIO
• Ohio is 11-5 overall and 2-0 in MAC play after opening conference play with victories over Buffalo and Western Michigan.
• The Bobcats are 10-1 at home this season with their lone blemish in Athens coming against Winthrop, 50-49.
• Ohio leads the MAC in both field goal percentage (48.3 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (37.2 percent).
• D.J. Cooper leads the way for the Bobcats averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 assists per game, third-best in the nation.
• Jim Christian is in his first season at Ohio, returning to the MAC after four seasons at TCU. Christian was previously in charge at Kent State, leading the Golden Flashes to four MAC East titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
• Ohio is the most-experienced team in the MAC with an experience number of 3.47, only Valparaiso (3.75) and Middle Tennessee (3.51) play a most experienced lineup.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Ohio leads the all-time series against Northern Illinois, 29-16.
• The Bobcats currently have a five-game winning streak overall in the series and hold a 16-6 edge all-time in meetings in Athens.
• NIU's last victory in the series was an 81-74 triumph in Athens on Feb. 10, 2007.

AKRON RECAP
• Northern Illinois fell to Akron, 68-53, to drop to 1-1 in conference play.
Darrell Bowie scored a career-high 13 points and tied a career-best with five rebounds. Bowie has set a new career scoring high in each of the last four games.
Abdel Nader scored 10 points; he has scored in double figures in six-of-seven games played this season.
• After shooting 69.2 percent from three against Miami, the Huskies shot just 7.1 percent (1-of-14) from beyond the arc against the Zips, a low for NIU during the Mark Montgomery era.
• NIU and Akron combined for 46 fouls and shot a combined 59 free throws.
Travon Baker dished out three assists with no turnovers against the Zips. Baker has had one turnover or less in each of the last four games.
Keith Gray went 6-of-6 from the free-throw line against Akron; Gray is 11-of-12 from the line in conference play.

BREAKING A 32-YEAR HEX
• With its 72-61 victory at Miami on Jan. 9, Northern Illinois snapped a 13-game losing streak in Oxford, Ohio. NIU's last road victory against the RedHawks came on Feb. 21, 1981.
• The Huskies entered the game at Miami with a 1-19 record all-time in Oxford.
• The victory over Miami gave NIU a 1-0 start in conference play for the first time since 2009-10 when the Huskies won at Ball State in the league opener.
• Having broken the losing streak at Miami, NIU's longest conference road losing streak is now six, at Buffalo. The last Huskie victory in Buffalo came on Feb. 6, 2003.

MIAMI RECAP
• NIU defeated Miami, 72-61, in its conference opener, snapping a 13-game losing streak in Oxford, Ohio. The victory was NIU's first at Miami since Feb. 21, 1981.
• The Huskies shot 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from behind the 3-point line, NIU's best performance during Mark Montgomery's tenure.
• NIU shot 63.2 percent (12-of-19) from the field in the second half, including 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from behind the arc.
• Northern Illinois made a season-best 21 free throws on 26 attempts (80.8 percent).
Aksel Bolin led NIU in scoring with 11 points, it is the fourth time this season Bolin has been NIU's leading scorer.  
• The Huskies grabbed a season-low four offensive rebounds, but also held Miami to just four offensive rebounds.
Antone Christian made his first start of the season, becoming the 10th different player to start at least one game for NIU.
Darrell Bowie set a new career-high for points for the third straight game. Bowie had 10 points while also tying a career-high with five rebounds.
• The NIU bench outscored Miami's reserves, 44-8.
• Northern Illinois won its first conference game for the first time since defeating Ball State in the league opener in 2009-10.
Travon Baker tied a career-high with four assists. Baker committed just one turnover in 24 minutes of action.

COMMON THEMES IN VICTORY
• Northern Illinois has scored at least 65 points in each of its victories this season. The Huskies have won just once under Mark Montgomery when scoring less than 60 points.
• NIU has just one win under Montgomery when shooting a lower field goal percentage than its opponent. The Huskies are 3-2 this season when shooting a better percentage than the opposition.
• The Huskies are 3-1 this season when they have more assists than the opponent.

OF NOTE...
• Northern Illinois did not win a game last season in which the Huskies allowed more than 69 points.
• The Huskies were 3-4 in games decided by five points or less last season.
• NIU did not play an overtime game last season. The Huskies went 41 games between overtime contests from Feb. 26, 2011 to Dec. 7, 2012.
• The Huskies shot a better field goal percentage than their opponents in four of their five victories last season. NIU also had a better 3-point shooting percentage than its opponents in all five victories a year ago.
• NIU outrebounded its opponents 18 times last season, including in four of its five wins.

THE PRESEASON PICKS
• NIU was picked to finish fifth in the MAC West in the preseason conference media poll. Toledo was picked to win the MAC West, followed by Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ball State, NIU and Central Michigan.
• The MAC East was picked to finish as follows: Ohio, Akron, Kent State, Buffalo, Bowling Green and Miami. Ohio was also picked as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament.
Abdel Nader was one of five played named to the West Division Preseason All-MAC Team. Joining Nader are Ball State's Jesse Berry, Toledo's Rian Pearson and Julius Brown and Western Michigan's Nate Hutcheson.

The Last Meeting
Ohio67
Northern Illinois58
February 1, 2012
DeKalb, Ill.
Late Run Not Enough for Huskies Against Ohio
Redshirt sophomore guard Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) scored a season-high 15 points as the Northern Illinois men's basketball team fell, 67-58, to Ohio University on Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center.