Huskies Look for Second Straight Win at Eastern Michigan

GO HUSKIES Junior forward Aksel Bolin
GO HUSKIES
Junior forward Aksel Bolin
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 25, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (4-13, 2-3 MAC) at Eastern Michigan Eagles (9-10, 2-3 MAC)
Date / Time: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 / 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET)
Site: EMU Convocation Center • Ypsilanti, Mich.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: EMUEagles.com
Live Stats: EMUEagles.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Northern Illinois leads 50-31
Last Meeting: March 5, 2012 • NIU 55-52

WHAT’S TRENDING
Abdel Nader scored a season-best 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 from three, to lead NIU to a road win at Central Michigan. It was Nader’s fifth career 20-plus point game.
Daveon Balls set a new career-high with eight rebounds at Central Michigan; he also tied career highs in assists (4) and steals (2).
• NIU shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field in the second half against Central Michigan, the second-best shooting half of the season. The Huskies shot 63.2 percent (12-of-19) in the second half of a win at Miami.
Darrell Bowie is averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during conference play. Bowie ranks third in scoring among conference freshmen in league play and fourth in rebounding. Bowie entered league play averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
• Northern Illinois is shooting 70.8 percent (114-of-161) as a team from the free-throw line in the last seven games.  
• The Huskies have gone to the free-throw line an average of 26.8 times per contest during conference play.  
J.J. Cravatta is averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in the last three contests.
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 8-of-10 games this season; Nader has scored in double figures in 25 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 48-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

SUITS AND SNEAKERS WEEKEND
• This weekend is the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) designated Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Weekend.
• Coaches around the country will be wearing sneakers with their suits to demonstrate their support of the American Cancer Society.  
• This is the 10th annual Suits and Sneakers weekend and is one of numerous NABC and American Cancer Society collaborative events; others also include the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and many regional events throughout the country.

ROAD WARRIORS
• With its victory at Central Michigan, NIU has won three of its last four games on the road against Mid-American Conference foes.
• The streak began in Ypsilanti in the first round of the MAC Tournament last season when the Huskies earned a 55-52 victory over the MAC West Division champion Eagles.
• NIU’s lone loss in the four-game stretch was at MAC preseason favorite Ohio on Jan. 16.
• Prior to the last four games, NIU had lost its previous 10 games on the road against conference opponents.

LIVING AT THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 134 free throws during conference play, an average of 26.8 per contest, connecting of 92 of those opportunities (68.7 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 (29) leads NIU in free throw attempts in MAC contests.
• Two Huskies have attempted 12-or-more free throws in conference and are shooting over 80 percent from the charity stripe: Aksel Bolin (83.3 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 eight more points per game in the second half that the first half while shooting over seven percent better from the field, seven percent better from three and six percent better from the free-throw line.
• In the opening 20 minutes this season, NIU is averaging 24.6 points while shooting 33.7 percent from the field, 25.8 percent from three and 63.4 percent from the free-throw line.
• The Huskies have 67 first half assists and 144 first half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is NIU’s leading scorer in the first half of games this season, each averaging 4.6 points.
• In the second half this year, NIU is averaging 32.6 points while shooting 40.9 percent from the field, 32.9 percent from three and 69.5 percent from the free-throw line.
• NIU has 84 second half assists and 121 second half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is also NIU’s leading second half scorer at 9.3 points.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 58.5 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 24.4 percent of the minutes.
• The team leading at halftime has won all 16 games played by NIU this season. The one exception was at Miami (Jan. 9) when the Huskies and RedHawks were tied at the half, NIU won that contest.
• 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 second-least experienced team in the country (1.60) behind Texas (1.43)
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is eighth in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.6 steals per game.
Aksel Bolin is tied for seventh in the MAC in free throw shooting in conference play (83.3 percent) and ranks eighth in 3-point shooting in league games (50 percent).
Abdel Nader is tied for 12th in scoring in conference games at 12.8 points per contest. He is also tied for 13th in steals at 1.4 per contest.  
Kevin Gray 14th in the conference pulling down 2.0 offensive rebounds per contest.
Keith Gray ranks 10th in the conference in free-throw percentage in league games at 81.8 percent.
• NIU is second in defensive rebounding percentage (70.6 percent) and first in defensive rebounding percentage in conference play (72 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 EASTERN MICHIGAN
• The Eagles enter Saturday’s contest with a 9-10 overall record, 2-3 in conference play.
• Derek Thompson is the only Eagle scoring in double figures averaging 11.5 points per contest. Glenn Bryant, an Arkansas transfer, (9.9 ppg) and Daylen Harrison, a Wyoming transfer, (9.7 ppg) are just below the 10-point mark.
• All nine of Eastern Michigan’s victories have come at home; the Eagles are 0-8 on the road.
• Eastern Michigan leads the MAC in scoring defense, allowing just 61.2 points per game; the Eagles also have the best 3-point defense in the conference, allowing opponents to shoot only 31.3 percent from beyond the arc.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Northern Illinois leads the all-time series with Eastern Michigan, 50-31.
• The Huskies and Eagles met three times last season with Eastern Michigan winning the two regular season meetings before NIU knocked the Eagles out of the MAC Tournament.
• NIU holds a 21-20 edge in Ypsilanti, earning a 55-52 victory at Eastern Michigan in the MAC Tournament First Round last season.
• Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois have split the last 10 meetings, 5-5.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN RECAP
• NIU earned its second road victory of the season with a 74-61 win at Central Michigan.
• The Huskie win was its first at CMU since 2006, snapping a six-game losing streak in Mt. Pleasant.
Abdel Nader scored a season-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 4-of-5 from behind the 3-point arc. Last season, Nader scored 24 in NIU’s visit to Central Michigan.
• The Huskies shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field in the second half and 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from behind the arc for the game.
• The 10 3-point field goals made by the Huskies is a season-high.
• NIU’s 74 points ties the best mark during the Mark Montgomery era, set at home against Central Michigan last season (Jan. 14, 2012).
• The Huskies made 22-of-31 free throws, the most makes during Mark Montgomery’s tenure.
Daveon Balls recorded a new career-high with eight rebounds. Balls also had seven points and tied career bests with four assists and two steals.
• Northern Illinois trailed by as much as 10 at halftime but came back to lead by one, 32-31, at the break. The 10-point deficit was the largest NIU has overcome to win a game this season.

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.

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.

ANOTHER STREAK BITES THE DUST
• After snapping a 13-game losing streak at Miami (Ohio) in the conference opener, NIU snapped another road losing streak at Central Michigan.
• NIU’s victory in Mt. Pleasant on Jan. 23 was its first at Central Michigan since a 49-43 victory on Jan. 26, 2006.
• The win snapped a six-game losing streak on the road against the Chippewas.

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 4-2 this season when shooting a better percentage than the opposition.
• The Huskies are 4-1 this season when they have more assists than the opponent.