Huskies Begin Michigan Swing Wednesday at CMU

GO HUSKIES Sophomore forward Kevin Gray
GO HUSKIES
Sophomore forward Kevin Gray
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 22, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (3-13, 1-3 MAC) at Central Michigan Chippewas (9-8, 2-2 MAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 / 6 p.m. CT (7 p.m. ET)
Site: McGuirk Arena • Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: CMUChippewas.com
Live Stats: CMUChippewas.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Northern Illinois leads 49-45
Last Meeting: Feb. 26, 2012 • CMU 74-64

WHAT’S TRENDING
Kevin Gray tied a career-high with 13 points last time out against Western Michigan. Gray’s first 13-point game came in last season’s trip to Central Michigan (Feb. 26, 2012). Abdel Nader (24) and Aksel Bolin (10) also scored in double figures in that contest.
J.J. Cravatta is averaging 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in the last two contests. Cravatta played a career-best 23 minutes last time out against Western Michigan.
• Northern Illinois is shooting 70.8 percent (92-of-130) as a team from the free-throw line in the last six games.  
• The Huskies have gone to the free-throw line an average of 25.8 times per contest during conference play.  
Darrell Bowie is scoring 8.3 points and pulling down 5.0 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent in six games as a starter. Bowie set a new career-high in scoring each of the first four games he started (7 at Washington Dec. 22, 8 vs. UMass Dec. 29, 10 at Miami Jan. 9 and 13 vs. Akron Jan. 12) and then set a new career-high in rebounds at Ohio (7).
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 7-of-9 games this season; Nader has scored in double figures in 24 games during his career.  
• 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 47-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

BOWIE BREAKS OUT IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Darrell Bowie is averaging 8.8 points, second-best among conference freshmen, and 5.5 rebounds, most among MAC rookies, per game in conference play.
• Overall, Bowie ranks 28th in the MAC in scoring in conference play and tied for 16th in rebounding.
• Bowie is also tied for 10th with 1.5 steals per game during conference play.
• Bowie has scored in double figures in three-of-four conference games, including a career-high 13 points against Akron (Jan. 12).   
• In non-conference play, Bowie averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest.

LIVING AT THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 103 free throws during conference play, an average of 25.8 per contest, connecting of 70 of those opportunities (68.0 percent).
• In contrast, the Huskies shot 179 free throws in non-conference action, an average of 14.9 trips per game, making 65.4 percent of those opportunities (117 total).
Darrell Bowie (25) and Keith Gray (22) lead NIU in free throw attempts in MAC contests.
• Two Huskies have attempted eight-or-more free throws in conference and are shooting over 80 percent from the charity stripe: Aksel Bolin (87.5 percent) and Keith Gray (81.8 percent).

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 over six percent better from the field, eight percent better from three and seven percent better from the free-throw line.
• In the opening 20 minutes this season, NIU is averaging 24.2 points while shooting 33.4 percent from the field, 23.4 percent from three and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line.
• The Huskies have 61 first half assists and 136 first half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is NIU’s leading scorer in the first half of games this season, each averaging 3.8 points.
• In the second half this year, NIU is averaging 32.1 points while shooting 40 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from three and 69.4 percent from the free-throw line.
• NIU has 78 second half assists and 111 second half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is also NIU’s leading second half scorer at 9.1 points.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 59.1 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 23.8 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 0.8 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 fourth-least experienced team in the country (1.60) behind only Arkansas-Little Rock (1.31), Texas (1.43) and Boston College (1.59) .
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is seventh in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.6 steals per game.
• In conference games, Darrell Bowie ranks 28th in scoring (second among freshmen) at 8.8 points per contest and tied for 16th in rebounding (first among freshmen) at 5.5 rebounds per game.
Kevin Gray 11th in the conference pulling down 2.1 offensive rebounds per contest.
Sam Mader is tied for 15th in the MAC with 0.7 blocks per game.
Keith Gray ranks ninth in the conference in free-throw percentage in league games at 81.8 percent.
Abdel Nader is tied for 21st in scoring in conference games at 10.3 points per contest. He is also tied for 10th in steals at 1.5 per contest.  
• The Huskies lead the conference in offensive rebounding averaging 13.6 offensive boards per game.
• NIU is second in defensive rebounding percentage (70.8 percent) and first in defensive rebounding percentage in conference play (73.6 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 CENTRAL MICHIGAN
• The Chippewas enter Wednesday’s contest with a 9-8 overall record, 2-2 in conference play. Central Michigan is 5-1 at home this season.
• Kyle Randall leads the Chippewas in scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game. Randall is the only Chippewa in double figures for the season.
• Central Michigan ranks second in the MAC free throw percentage (72.2 percent) and 3-point field goals made (7.9)
• Keno Davis is in his first season at head coach at Central Michigan, he previously spent time at Drake and Providence.  

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Northern Illinois leads the all-time series with Central Michigan, 49-45.
• The Huskies and Chippewas split a pair of meetings last season with each team winning at home.
• The Chippewas hold a 31-14 edge in games played in Mt. Pleasant, including six-straight. NIU’s last victory in Mt. Pleasant was a 49-43 triumph on Jan. 26, 2006.
• Overall, CMU has won 10 of the last 12 in the series.

WESTERN MICHIGAN RECAP
• Western Michigan claimed a 71-34 victory over the Huskies in DeKalb.
Kevin Gray tied a career-high with 13 points, including 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, against the Broncos.
• NIU grabbed 16 offensive rebounds against the Broncos. The Huskies have grabbed 15-or-more offensive boards seven times this season.  
• Western Michigan shot 54.3 percent from the field, including 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
• The Broncos outscored the Huskies in the pain, 22-4.
• The Western Michigan bench scored 43 points to just 11 points for the Huskie reserves.

OHIO RECAP
• Northern Illinois fell to 1-2 in MAC play with an 81-63 loss at Ohio on Wednesday.
• The Bobcats used a 20-0 run in the first half to build a lead that NIU was unable to overcome.
• After trailing by 27 at the half, the Huskies outscored Ohio, 45-36, in the second half.
• The 45 second half points for NIU was the most for the Huskies in a half this season.
• NIU attempted 32 free throws in the contest, the most for the Huskies during Mark Montgomery’s tenure.
• Four Huskies scored in double figures (Abdel Nader 16, Keith Gray 14, Darrell Bowie 10 and J.J. Cravatta 10) for the first time this season.
• Keith Gray’s 14 points was a season-high, Gray scored 14 points in just 14 minutes of action.
• J.J Cravatta netted a career-best 10 points, including 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Darrell Bowie grabbed a career-best seven rebounds.

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.