NIU Opens Homestand Wednesday with Kent State

GO HUSKIES Freshman guard J.J. Cravatta
GO HUSKIES
Freshman guard J.J. Cravatta
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 29, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (4-14, 2-4 MAC) vs. Kent State Golden Flashes (11-9, 2-4 MAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 / 7 p.m. CT
Site: NIU Convocation Center • DeKalb, Ill.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Kent State leads 32-17
Last Meeting: Jan. 25, 2012 • Kent State 90-56

WHAT’S TRENDING
• Northern Illinois allowed just 42 points last time out against Eastern Michigan, the fewest allowed since Dec. 13, 2005, when the Huskies allowed 42 in a 62-42 victory over Wright State.
Darrell Bowie is averaging 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during conference play. Bowie ranks fifth in scoring among conference freshmen in league play and third in rebounding. Bowie entered league play averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Daveon Balls is averaged 7.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in last week’s two-game road trip to the State of Michigan.  
• The Huskies have gone to the free-throw line an average of 24.8 times per contest during conference play, nearly 10 trips more per game than during non-conference play.  
J.J. Cravatta is averaging 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game over the past four contests.  
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 8-of-11 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 49-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

LIVING AT THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 149 free throws during conference play, an average of 24.8 per contest.
• In contrast, the Huskies shot 179 free throws in non-conference action, an average of 14.9 trips per game.
Darrell Bowie (33) leads NIU in free throw attempts in MAC contests.
Aksel Bolin leads the Huskies in free throw shooting in conference play, connecting at an 83.3 percent clip.

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 8.5 more points per game in the second half that the first half while shooting over eight 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 23.5 points while shooting 31.7 percent from the field, 22.7 percent from three and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line.
• The Huskies have 68 first half assists and 150 first half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is NIU’s leading scorer in the first half of games this season, each averaging 4.5 points.
• In the second half this year, NIU is averaging 32.0 points while shooting 39.8 percent from the field, 30.1 percent from three and 69.0 percent from the free-throw line.
• NIU has 89 second half assists and 123 second half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is also NIU’s leading second half scorer at 8.6 points.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 57.9 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 25.0 percent of the minutes (a total of 82.9 percent by underclassmen).
• The team leading at halftime has won all 17 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 0.7 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 (1.61) 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 seventh in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.7 steals per game.
Abdel Nader is 17th in scoring in conference games at 11.5 points per contest. He is also tied for seventh in steals at 1.7 per contest and tied for 18th in rebounding, pulling down 4.8 boards per game.
Darrell Bowie ranks fifth in scoring among freshmen in league games (7.2 ppg) and third in rebounding among conference rookies in league play (4.7 rpg).  
Kevin Gray 14th in the conference pulling down 1.9 offensive rebounds per contest.
• At 8.0 points per game, Akeem Springs ranks fifth in the MAC among conference freshmen.
• NIU leads the MAC in offensive rebounding, pulling down 13.7 per contest. The Huskies also lead the MAC in defensive rebounding percentage in league play at 72.2 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 KENT STATE
• The Golden Flashes come to DeKalb with an 11-9 overall record, 2-4 in Mid-American Conference play. Kent State has lost three-straight games with home losses to Akron and Ohio as well as a loss at Bowling Green.
• Chris Evans leads Kent State averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest. Randal Holt is the other Kent State player averaging in double figures at 14.0 points per game.
• Kent State is third in the MAC in 3-point percentage, shooting 34.6 percent, and second in 3-point defense, holding opponents to just 32.3 percent.
• Coming into this season, Kent State has averaged 23.3 wins per season over the last 14 years and has made five NCAA Tournament appearances during that stretch.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Kent State leads the all-time series against NIU, 32-17. The Golden Flashes have won 11-straight games against the Huskies.
• NIU’s last victory over Kent State was a 67-61 triumph on Feb. 8, 2003, in Kent.
• The Huskies and Golden Flashes have split the previous 24 meetings in DeKalb, 12-12.
• The last time Northern Illinois defeated Kent State at home was on Jan. 3, 1998, a 64-52 win.

EASTERN MICHIGAN RECAP
• NIU fell at Eastern Michigan, 42-25, to conclude its two-game Michigan swing 1-1.
• The 42 points allowed by NIU was its lowest since Dec. 13, 2005, when the Huskies allowed 42 in a 62-42 victory over Wright State.
• The last time NIU allowed less than 42 points was in an 86-38 victory over Blackburn College on Dec. 18, 1992, and the last time NIU allowed less than 42 against a Division I foe occurred in a 48-30 win at Akron on Jan. 26, 1991.
• Northern Illinois committed a season-low eight turnovers against the Eagles.
• The Huskies pulled down 23 offensive rebounds, a new high during the Mark Montgomery era.
Abdel Nader recorded three steals against the Eagles, tying a career-high. Nader has had three steals in a game seven times during his NIU career.

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.

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.

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.