Jan. 19, 2011
Notes: Game 16 at Central Michigan
NIU (6-9, 2-1) at Central Michigan (4-12, 1-2)
Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 | 7 p.m. ET
Mt. Pleasant, Mich. | McGuirk Arena | 5,300
NIU Radio Availability
WLBK | 1360 AM | DeKalb
WKRS | 1220 AM | Waukegan
NIU concludes its first round robin against the Mid-American Conference West Division with a two-game road trip in Michigan, beginning on Thursday night (Jan. 20) at Central Michigan. The Huskies travel to Mount Pleasant on a two-game winning streak after defeating Toledo, 64-54, last Saturday, to improve to 6-9 overall, 2-1 in the MAC. Xavier Silas and Tim Toler were each in double figures again for the Huskies; Silas scored a team-best 20 points while Toler netted 14, the pair has both reached double figures in each of the first three conference games for NIU. Bryan Hall and Jeremy Landers combined for 13 assists against the Rockets as Northern Illinois won its third-straight against Toledo.
About Central Michigan
Central Michigan is 1-2 in Mid-American Conference play, 4-12 overall, entering Thursday's contest. The Chippewas fell at Ball State, 64-55, in their last game this past Saturday. CMU is led by Trey Zeigler, averaging 17.0 points per game, fourth-best in the nation among freshmen this season. Zeigler is the son of Central Michigan head coach Ernie Zeigler, who is in his fifth season at CMU. Northern Illinois will be making its first appearance at McGuirk Arena, which replaces Rose Arena as part of the CMU Events Center renovation project.
Against the Chippewas
Northern Illinois holds a 48-42 advantage in the all-time series against Central Michigan. The Huskies won the last meeting between the two schools, 67-65, on Feb. 24, 2010, in DeKalb, snapping an eight-game series win streak for CMU. The Chippewas hold a 29-14 advantage in games played in Mount Pleasant.
Rise and Fire
Through the first three games of Mid-American Conference play, NIU is shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc, third in the MAC in both categories. Against Eastern Michigan (Jan. 11), the Huskies shot 61.0 percent for the game, 66.7 percent from three; both marks represent season-highs.
A Whole Lot of Threes
The Huskies have caught fire from beyond the three-point arc since the beginning of conference play. Through three conference games, the Huskies are shooting 46.0 percent beyond the arc, second-best in the MAC, and have made 9.67 triples per game, tied for second-most in the conference. Three Huskies: Xavier Silas (55.0 percent, sixth), Tim Toler (52.9 percent, seventh) and Jeremy Landers (50.0 percent, tied for eighth), rank in the top-10 in the conference in three-point percentage.
Sharing the Rock
NIU has been sharing the ball extremely well since the beginning of conference play. The Huskies are averaging 15.67 assists in league play, tied for second-best in the MAC. NIU also has a 1.24 assist/turnover ratio as a team in MAC play, the second-best ratio in the league.
Landers in Control in Conference Play
Jeremy Landers dished out a career-best seven assists against Eastern Michigan (Jan. 11), followed by six more against Toledo (Jan. 15). Landers is averaging 5.33 assists per game in conference play, tied for third in the league, and has a 4.00 assist/turnover ratio, the second-best mark in the MAC in league games.
MAC Honors Times Four for Silas
Xavier Silas earned his fourth Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor this week after averaging 25.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in two victories over Eastern Michigan and Toledo.
Silas earned his first accolade on Nov. 22, after scoring a combined 56 points the previous week against Bradley and Cardinal Stritch. He earned his second honor the following week following a 34-point performance in a victory at Maryland-Eastern Shore. Silas' third honor came on Dec. 19, after averaging 33.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in a pair of games against Illinois-Chicago and Temple. That week included a career night against UIC when Silas scored 40 points, breaking the NIU Convocation Center scoring record.
Toler Starts 2011 With Career Highs
Tim Toler recorded new career bests in both points and rebounds in the first two games of the new year. In NIU's first game of 2011 at Iowa State (Jan. 3), Toler set a new career-high in rebounds, grabbing 10 boards as the Huskies pushed the Cyclones down to the wire. He then registered a new career-high with 22 points in the conference opener against Ball State (Jan. 8). Toler connected on 4-of-6 three-pointers against the Cardinals, he had made six threes in the first 12 games of the season combined.
Toler has continued his hot start to 2011 with 11 points against Eastern Michigan (Jan. 11) and 14 points against Toledo (Jan. 15). Toler has made nine three-pointers in conference play and is shooting 52.9 percent from beyond the arc since the beginning of MAC play. Overall, Toler is shooting 33.6 percent from three this season, 13th in the MAC.
Career Days Cap 2010
Jeremy Landers and Bryan Hall each scored career highs in NIU's 86-76 New Year's Eve victory over Utah Valley. Landers scored 17 points, bettering his previous best of 14 set earlier this season at DePaul (Dec. 2) and Hall had 13 points to top his previous best of 10 against Boise State (Nov. 29) this season.
Charity Stripe Turnaround
A year ago, Northern Illinois shot just 64.6 percent from the free throw line as eight of NIU's 12 players with more than two attempts on the season hit less than 60 percent from the line. The Huskies ranked 290th in the country and 11th in the MAC in free throw percentage, despite Xavier Silas' 81.1 percent mark. So far in 2010-11, the Huskies have turned that performance around, ranking second in the MAC, and 116th nationally, shooting 70.6 percent as a team (231-of-327). Silas' 87.7 percent leads the MAC and is 36th in the nation.
Silas Smashes Records vs. UIC
Xavier Silas scored 40 points to lead NIU to an 80-78 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 14. Silas' 40 points set a new NIU Convocation Center scoring record, the record was previously 35 by Buffalo's Andy Robinson on Feb. 5, 2008. NIU's previous best at the Convocation Center was 32 by Darion Anderson against Chicago State on Dec. 6, 2008.
Silas also scored 28 points in the second half of the contest, tying the NIU single-half record set by Larry Wyllie in the second half at Eastern Michigan on Feb. 15, 1958.
He also tied the NIU school records for free throws made (22) and attempted (24) in a game. Both of those marks were set by Willie Hanson against Central Michigan on Feb. 26, 1966.
Finally, Silas' 22 free throws made also ties the Mid-American Conference record held by three other players: Jim Ray, Toledo (Feb. 27, 1956), Rick Rightnowar, Toledo (Feb. 1, 1992) and Ron Lewis, Bowling Green (March 10, 2003).
The 40-Point Club
With his 40 points against UIC, Xavier Silas became one of just 12 players in the nation to score 40 points in a game this season. Mike James of Lamar has the highest scoring game this year, 52 points against Division III Louisiana College. The third- and fourth-highest scoring games of the year came in a four overtime game between Ohio and St. Bonaventure. Of the 40-point games in the nation just eight, including Silas', came in a non-overtime game against a Division I opponent.
Silas Starts Strong
After finishing the 2009-10 campaign as the MAC's No. 2 scorer with 19.7 points per game, Northern Illinois senior Xavier Silas is scoring at an even faster pace this season. The Texas native is averaging 23.6 points per game, fourth in the nation and tops in the Mid-American Conference. Silas scored a career-high 40 points against Illinois-Chicago, recording NIU's first 40-plus point game since Paul Dawkins netted 47 at Western Michigan on Feb. 28, 1979. In his Huskie career, Silas has scored in double figures 35 times in 40 games played. He scored 493 points in 2009-10 despite missing five games due to a hand injury suffered in the season opener and has 354 points this season.
Silas' scoring increase has not come with more shots, but through hitting a higher percentage of his shots. So far this season, Silas has made 47.8 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 44.7 percent clip. Those percentages are far ahead of his 38.3 and 32.1 percent marks for field goals and three-pointers made, respectively, a year ago. The Huskie records for single season percentages are 58.9 (overall) and 48.9 (threes).
Landers Lights Up the Scoreboard
Jeremy Landers produced an individual offensive explosion in an eight-game stretch this season between the DePaul game (Dec. 2) and the Ball State game (Jan. 8). In those eight games, Landers averaged 10.3 points per game, after averaging just 2.6 points per contest through the first five games of the season. Landers scored in double figures five times during the stretch, remarkable considering he had just four double-digit scoring games in his first 83 career games played.
Hall Lends a Hand
Junior Bryan Hall has cemented his spot as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling. Hall is averaging 3.07 assists per game, 12th-best in the Mid-American Conference. After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall leads NIU with 46 assists this season. He had five assists without a turnover versus Cardinal Stritch (Nov. 21) and recorded a career-high seven assists versus just one turnover at Maryland Eastern Shore (Nov. 24). Hall tied his career-high last time out with seven assists against Toledo.
Silas a Senior CLASS Candidate
Xavier Silas has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's basketball. The award honors seniors playing Division I basketball who have demonstrated high achievement in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition throughout their collegiate careers.
Quarterback Grady Joins Roster
Redshirt junior DeMarcus Grady, a quarterback on the NIU football team, joined the Huskie basketball roster on Monday, Dec.20, after returning from the Humanitarian Bowl. Grady, who started the football season opener at Iowa State, has not played basketball since high school when he was an all-state honorable mention player as a senior. Grady helped the NIU football team win a school-record 11 games this season.
Northern Illinois signed a pair of players for 2011-12 on Nov. 10. Zach Miller, a 5-9 guard from Glenbard East High School in Chicago, and DeAndre Barnette, a 6-4 wing from Liberty Tech in Jackson, Tenn., inked with the Huskies following successful junior seasons at their respective schools and equally as impressive summers. Miller helped lead the Rams to the Class 4A sectional final as a junior as he averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 steals and 7.2 assists per game. He was the DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year. Barnette led Liberty Tech to the Tennessee Class 2A title game and was named to the all-tournament team at the state tourney.
Xavier Silas started the season a perfect 28-of-28 from the free throw line before recording his first miss at Maryland Eastern Shore. Silas made 42 straight free throws dating back to last year's penultimate game versus Toledo (March 4, 2010) before missing three of his last five free throws versus UMES. Silas' made his last nine free throws versus Toledo last year, beginning with 31 seconds left in the first half. He then hit all five of his tries in the MAC Tournament first-round game at Eastern Michigan. This year, he went 12-of-12 from the line versus Northwestern and hit all six of his tries at Bradley and versus Stritch, then made his first four free throws in Maryland. Since missing his last attempt, Silas went 4-for-4 against Boise State. The Northern Illinois record for consecutive free throws made in a season is 33 (by Todd Peterson in 2005-06); there is no record for consecutive free throws made in a career.
Northern Illinois will face six opponents that played in the 2010 postseason with games against NCAA Tournament participants Temple (Dec. 18), Missouri (Dec. 27) and Ohio (Feb. 5) along with National Invitation Tournament (NIT) teams Kent State (Feb. 12) and Northwestern. Akron earned a trip to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last year.
Northern Illinois will conclude its short two-game road trip on Saturday, Jan. 22, when the Huskies visit Western Michigan. Game time against the Broncos is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.