Huskies Begin Crossover Play by Hosting Ohio Wednesday Night

GO HUSKIES Michael Patton has matched his season high of eight points in each of the last two games.
GO HUSKIES
Michael Patton has matched his season high of eight points in each of the last two games.
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 26, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-9, 4-1 MAC) VS. OHIO (10-9, 1-4 MAC) » January 27, 2010 » Convocation Center » DeKalb, Ill. » 7 p.m. CST

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Arena: Convocation Center (9,100)
Tip-off: 7 p.m. CST
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (WLBK, 1360, [DeKalb], 670 WSCR [Chicago])
Cybercast: Live Video, via Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com (Gametracker)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Ohio leads, 26-16/L2

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will look to kick off Mid-American Conference crossover divisional play with its seventh victory in the month of January, when the Huskies host Ohio at the Convocation Center Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. NIU has won three-consecutive decisions at home, including two-straight in MAC play.

The Huskies are coming off last Saturday's 81-75 loss at preseason MAC-West favorite Central Michigan, their first setback in league play. Junior guard Xavier Silas poured in a game-high 26 points, and junior center Sean Kowal posted his second double-double of the season with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, but the Huskies committed 18 turnovers to CMU's 11, and the Chippewas capitalized with 22 points off those miscues. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson chipped in 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting - he also had seven assists with three rebounds.

There were a combined 27 ties and lead changes in the game, and both teams shot better than 42 percent from the field. The Chippewas out-scored the Northern Illinois, 16-8 over the final 4:08, including 14 free throws in the last 3:52, to secure the six-point win. The Huskies and CMU enter crossover divisional play tied atop the West Division standings.

NEXT UP ... Northern Illinois will open Saturday's men's-women's basketball doubleheader with a 12 p.m. tip-off versus visiting Buffalo at the Convocation Center. The Bulls are 10-6 on the season, 3-2 in the MAC, and dropped back-to-back road decisions at Kent State (1/20/2010) and Ohio (1/23/2010) last week. Buffalo has posted a 5-3 record on the road this season, with notable wins over Niagara, Green Bay and Bowling Green.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois will be looking to record its first 5-1 start to Mid-American Conference play since the 1980-81 campaign Wednesday -- the Huskies have served two stints as a MAC member (1975-86 and 1997-present) ... The Huskies have dropped two-straight, and three-of-four meetings versus Ohio, including a 73-55 loss to the Bobcats at the Convocation Center on Feb. 2, 2008 ... In last season's lone contest versus Ohio (Feb. 5, 2009), Ohio used a dominating 20-0 run mid-way through the first half to build a 20-point halftime advantage, and never looked back in an 89-59 win in Athens, Ohio -- Jerome Tillman scored a game-high 24 points for Ohio, while Darion "Jake" Anderson paced NIU with 17 points ... In the last seven games, the Huskies are averaging 74.9 points per game while out-rebounding their foes, 39.0-34.4 -- NIU is also shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range during the stretch ... NIU has won three-straight home games, and is 5-3 at home this season ... Head coach Ricardo Patton owns a 145-62 home record as a college head coach, dating back to his 12-year run at Colorado ... Northern Illinois is 43-42 at the Convocation Center since playing its first game at the facility on Nov. 23, 2002 ... The Huskies have compiled a 23-29 record against MAC opponents at the Convocation Center over those seven seasons ... Anderson is slated to play in his 75th career game Wednesday, while junior guard Michael Patton, who has matched his season high with eight points in each of the last two games, is set to appear in his 70th career contest at NIU ... Senior forward Najul Ervin is just three points away (197) from 200 tallies for his career -- he would become the third active player to score at least 200 points and pull down 200 or more rebounds, joining Anderson and junior center Sean Kowal.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Tie its entire Mid-American Conference win total from the 2008-09 season
» Record its first four-game home winning streak since the 2004-05 campaign
» Improve to 3-0 at home during MAC play

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Drop to 5-4 at home this season
» Lose its second-straight MAC game
» Drop its third-consecutive decision to Ohio, dating back to the 2007-08 season

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
After starting out the season 2-8, Northern Illinois enters Wednesday's game with an 8-9 overall record, and finished the first-round of Mid-American Conference West Division play with a 4-1 mark. NIU is 5-3 at the Convocation Center this season, with three-straight home wins over North Dakota (1/2/2010), Western Michigan (1/13/2010) and Eastern Michigan (1/16/2010).

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game, including a league-best 22.0 points per MAC contest. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 12.8 points per game in conference play, while junior center Sean Kowal has added 9.8 points per game, on a MAC-best 73.1 percent clip from the field.

In conference play, the Huskies are leading the league in defensive field goal percentage (.371) and defensive rebounds (28.0 rpg), while ranking second in scoring offense (71.8 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.384), three-point field goal percentage defense (.271) and blocks per game (4.60).

At home, the Huskies are averaging 71.9 points per game, and are out-rebounding their opponents by 4.3 rebounds per contest (39.0-34.8). Three NIU players are averaging double figures in scoring at home, led by Silas' 21.8 points per game. Anderson has averaged 14.3 points per home contest with 8.1 rebounds, while Kowal is scoring 10.1 points per game on a 57.1 field goal percentage at the Convo.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Ohio enters MAC-West cross-divisional play with a 10-9 record, and went 1-4 during its first five MAC-East contests. The Bobcats, who are coming off last Saturday's 99-77 win over Buffalo, are 2-5 on the road this season.

Ohio is being led by junior guard Armon Bassett, who is averaging a team-high 13.5 points per game, including 16.4 points per game during MAC play. Bassett, an Indiana transfer, scored 16 points versus Buffalo (1/23/2010). Freshman point guard D.J. Cooper, a teammate of NIU guard Tony Nixon's in high school at Seton Academy, is scoring 14.6 points per contest in conference games, and leads the Bobcats with 108 assists on the season.

Ohio leads the MAC in turnover margin, averaging just 13.4 turnovers per game, while forcing its opponents into 16.2 miscues per contest. The Bobcats are averaging 73.0 points per game, and allowing their 19 opponents to score 68.0 points per contest. Ohio is averaging 37.8 rebounds per game, edging their opponents by 0.6 boards per contest.

PLAYER(S) OF THE WEEK LIVE HERE
The Northern Illinois men's basketball team is taking quick ownership of the weekly awards in the Mid-American Conference West Division. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson, after joining the Huskies' 1,000-point club and leading NIU to consecutive home wins over league foes Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan, chalked up NIU's third West Division Player of the Week honor on Jan. 19.

Junior guard Xavier Silas' first two career weekly honors (1/4/2010 and 1/11/2010) coupled with Anderson's plaudit gives NIU three-straight MAC-West Player of the Week awards for the first time in school history. Anderson has now claimed six West Division Player of the Week tallies in his two-plus year career. Against WMU and EMU, Anderson averaged 17.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on a 52.2 field goal percentage.

MOVING UP THE CHARTS
Darion "Jake" Anderson, who became just the 15th player in NIU history to score at least 1,000 points before the end of his third season versus Eastern Michigan (Jan. 16), continues to move up the individual record book charts at NIU. Anderson dished out seven assists at Central Michigan (1/23/2010), pushing his career total to 204 helpers. With that feat, Anderson became just the second player in the Division I era to score at least 1,000 points, pull down 400 or more rebounds and dish out at least 200 assists, joining Mike McKinney (2003-07) in that category. Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points (1,025), rebounds (419), assists (204), steals (89), field goals (339), three-point field goals (77) and free throws (270) made, and total minutes played (2,240/30.3 mpg).

ELITE COMPANY
Junior guard Xavier Silas enters Wednesday's contest averaging a Mid-American Conference best 19.8 points in his 12 games played this season, which would qualify as the 22nd-best single-season mark in NIU history. It would also represent the ninth-best individual single season output during a MAC campaign. Silas has scored 20 or more points five times this season, boasts a total of 10 double digit scoring outputs, and has been the Huskies' leading scorer on 10 occasions. He owns NIU's top-six individual scoring performances this season, including career-highs of 26 points against both Central Michigan (1/23/2010) and Temple (12/30/09). Silas also paces the Huskies in free throw percentage (.804), making 102 trips to the charity stripe in just 12 games, an average of 8.5 free throw attempts per game.

IT'S A NEW SEASON
The Huskies are off to a 4-1 start in Mid-American Conference play, and in the latest version of the MAC-only stats (through games of Jan. 25), the numbers have been backing up their early success. Through five MAC contests, the Huskies are leading the league in field goal percentage defense (.371) and defensive rebounds (28.00 rpg), while ranking second in scoring offense (71.8 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.384), three-point field goal percentage defense (.271) and blocks per game (4.60). As mentioned, junior guard Xavier Silas leads the league in scoring (22.0 ppg) in MAC games, while Sean Kowal is atop the league in field goal percentage, shooting at a 73.1 percent clip (19-of-26).

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION?
For the 2009-10 Northern Illinois basketball team, the month of January, and the start of the 2010 calendar year, has represented the hottest month in recent memory. NIU is off to a 6-1 start in January, the most victories the Huskies have compiled in a single month since winning seven games in the month of December during the 1994-95 season.

START ME UP, COACH
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton has used six different starting combinations this season, but seems to have found the lineup that will lead NIU in the foreseeable future, and for good reason. The Huskies' starting combination of Darion "Jake" Anderson, Mike DiNunno, Xavier Silas, Michael Fakuade and Lee Fisher has compiled a 7-2 record.

ONE OF THE NATION'S BEST
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 five points per game this season, but has been on a tear in the rebounding department. The Chicago native is one-of only three players in the NCAA Division I ranks standing 6-foot-2 or less to average at least 6.9 rebounds per game. Anderson became just the third NIU guard in the Division I era to lead the Huskies in rebounding last season.

POINT `N SHOOT
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 7-0 when shooting a better percentage than their opponent this season, and 21-6 over the past three campaigns. In addition, the Huskies are 5-0 when shooting 35 percent or better from three-point range this season.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE
Northern Illinois sophomore guard Mike DiNunno became the third player this season to record a double-double with his 21 points and 10 assists versus Western Michigan (1/16/2010). The Huskies' junior tandem of Darion "Jake" Anderson and Sean Kowal have also posted a combined three double-doubles. 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 first double-double this season came with 23 points and 13 rebounds against Southeast Missouri (11/22/09).

FIRST-HALF SUCCESS IS KEY
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 18-6. When NIU trails at intermission, it is just 4-43 the past two-plus seasons.

CONTROLLING THE BOARDS
When Northern Illinois has been on the positive side of the rebounding ledger the past two seasons, it has enjoyed significant success. Twenty-one of the Huskies' 24 wins under head coach Ricardo Patton have occurred when NIU has out-rebounded its opponent.

HUSKIES PICKED SECOND IN MAC-WEST
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.

SEASON #15 FOR COACH "P"
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.