Huskies Continue MAC-East Stretch at Kent State Monday

GO HUSKIES Silas scored 27 points against Buffalo, his eighth output with 20 or more points this season.
GO HUSKIES
Silas scored 27 points against Buffalo, his eighth output with 20 or more points this season.
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 31, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-11, 4-3 MAC) AT KENT STATE (14-7, 5-2 MAC) » February 1, 2010 » M.A.C. Center (6,327) » Kent, Ohio » 6 p.m. CST

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Tip-off: 6 p.m. CST
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (WLBK, 1360, [DeKalb], 670 WSCR [Chicago])
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com/KentStateSports.com (Live Stats)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Kent State leads, 29-17/L8

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will look to pick up its third road win during Mid-American Conference play Monday night, when the Huskies take on host Kent State at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center beginning at 6 p.m. CST. The Huskies dropped two decisions by a total of six points versus the Golden Flashes last season.

The Huskies are coming off last Saturday's 95-83 loss to visiting Buffalo at the Convocation Center. Junior guard Xavier Silas scored a game-high 27 points, his eighth output with 20 or more points this season, but visiting Buffalo shot 55.7 percent from the field, including a 60.6 percent output in the second half, handing NIU its third-straight setback in MAC play.

Silas' 27 points led a threesome of Huskies in double figures - he was joined by sophomore guard Mike DiNunno (15) and junior center Sean Kowal (12). Silas also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Preseason First-Team All-MAC selection Rodney Pierce scored a team-high 17 points, leading a balanced scoring attack that saw five Bulls score in double figures.

NIU shot over 40 percent (46.8) from the field for the third-consecutive game, and committed a season-low eight turnovers, but Buffalo dished out 21 assists on its 34 field goals, had just eight turnovers of its own, and the Bulls' bench out-scored the Huskies' reserves, 34-14.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will travel 15 miles west to Akron, Ohio, to take on the host Zips Wednesday at James A. Rhodes Arena Wednesday at 6 p.m. CST. Akron is 15-6 on the season, 5-2 in MAC play, and is coming off Saturday's 59-45 win over visiting Toledo.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois will be looking to secure its first win at the M.A.C. Center since the 2002-03 season (2/8/03) ... The Huskies have dropped eight-straight decisions versus the Golden Flashes, including last season's 64-61 setback in the first-round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland ... Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno averaged 18.0 points per game against Kent State in two meetings last season, while junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest ... DiNunno drilled a half-court shot at the end of regulation that forced overtime, and eventually double-overtime, in the Golden Flashes' 86-83 win at the Convocation Center last February (2/10/09) ... In the MAC Tournament contest, NIU held a 56-48 lead with 7:00 remaining, but KSU finished the contest on a 15-5 run to advance to the second-round ... The Huskies have recorded season-lows in turnovers in each of the last two contests, committing only 9.5 miscues in those outings against Ohio and Buffalo ... During MAC play, NIU is 2-1 on the road, averaging 65.0 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score just 61.0 points per contest -- junior guard Xavier Silas is averaging 23.3 points per outing in MAC road games ... DiNunno, who scored his 500th career point versus Buffalo last Saturday, enters Monday's game with 99 career rebounds -- he is also slated to play his 50th career game against Kent State ... Anderson is three made free throws away from tying Kenny Battle for seventh on the all-time list at NIU -- he is also just two assists away from moving into a tie for 13th all-time.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Tie its entire Mid-American Conference win total from the 2008-09 season
» Record its first win over Kent State since Feb. 8, 2003, and just the second victory in the last 14 meetings
» Improve to 3-1 on the road during MAC play

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Lose its fourth-straight MAC game
» Drop its ninth-straight decision versus Kent State, and the third in the last 12 months
» Fall to 0-3 versus MAC-East foes this season

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Monday's game with an 8-11 overall record, 4-3 in the Mid-American Conference, and has dropped three-straight league decisions, including two in MAC-East divisional crossover play. NIU is 3-6 on the road this season, with two of those wins coming during the first-round of MAC-West divisional action.

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 21.1 points per game, including a league-best 24.0 points per MAC contest. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 11.0 points per game in conference play, while sophomore guard Mike DiNunno has scored 10.6 points with 4.57 assists per conference game. Junior center Sean Kowal, who ranks second in the MAC in field goal percentage (.605), has added 9.6 points per contest in league games.

In conference play, the Huskies are leading the league in scoring offense (75.1 ppg), blocks per game (4.57) and defensive rebounds (27.71 rpg), while ranking second in assists per game (14.43), assist/turnover ratio (1.10) and offensive rebounds (11.86 rpg).

On the road, the Huskies are averaging 61.3 points per game, and allowing their opponents to score 71.4 points per contest. Silas is the lone player averaging double figures in scoring on the road, scoring 18.4 points to go along with a team-high 6.0 rebounds per road outing. NIU is shooting 38.6 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from three-point range on the road, and has out-rebounded its foes by an average of 1.2 caroms per game.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN FLASHES
Kent State enters Monday's contest with a 14-7 record, and is tied atop the MAC-East standings with a 5-2 league mark. The Golden Flashes, who will be playing their fifth home game in the past six MAC contests, are 8-2 at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center this season.

Kent State is being led by sophomore guard Justin Greene, who is averaging a team-high 13.2 points per game. Preseason First-Team All-MAC selection Chris Singletary is scoring 14.1 points per contest during conference play; Tyree Evans is averaging 11.6 points per game (12.9 ppg in MAC games) and Rodriguez Sherman has added 11.0 points per outing. Greene is KSU's leading rebounder, pulling down 6.6 caroms per game.

In MAC play, Kent State leads the league in scoring margin (+9.6), three-point field goal defense (.254), rebounding margin (+6.4) and offensive rebounds (12.86 rpg). The Golden Flashes also rank second in field goal percentage (.445) and steals (7.86 spg).

SILAS EARNS SECOND MAC SCHOLAR-ATHLETE WEEKLY HONOR
Junior guard Xavier Silas, the Mid-American Conference leader in scoring through the league's first-round of divisional play, averaged 22.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, and shot 40 percent from three-point range, in Northern Illinois' 1-1 record during two MAC-West road contests last week (1/20/2010 at Toledo, and 1/23/2010 at CMU). For his efforts, he was tabbed the MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week for the period ending Jan. 24, his second such honor of the season.

For the week, Silas tallied 12 field goals, including six three-pointers, shot nearly 84 percent from the free throw line (15-18), and had nine rebounds, one assist and one block with 45 points in an average of 34 minutes per game. He led the Huskies in scoring in both contests.

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. Earlier this month, junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson (1/18/2010) and Xavier Silas (1/4/2010 and 1/11/2010) combined for 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, while Silas' back-to-back honors marked the first-two of his NIU career.

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), eclipsing 200 helpers for his career. 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 (1,042), rebounds (430), assists (212), steals (90), field goals (344), three-point field goals (77) and free throws (277) made, and total minutes played (2,300/30.3 mpg).

TURNING POINT?
Northern Illinois finished the 2008-09 season shooting at an NCAA Division I low 59.2 percent clip from the free throw line. At the outset of this season, it didn't appear that the Huskies would make much of an improvement in the category, shooting 50 percent or less from the charity stripe in each of the first four games. Since the beginning of MAC play, however, the Huskies have turned the tide, and has shot 70 percent or better from the line in four of the last seven games overall, including two efforts over 80 percent.

ELITE COMPANY
Junior guard Xavier Silas enters Monday's contest averaging a Mid-American Conference best 21.1 points in his 14 games played this season, which would qualify as the 15th-best single-season mark in NIU history. Silas has scored 20 or more points seven times this season, boasts a total of 12 double digit scoring outputs, and has been the Huskies' leading scorer on 12 occasions. He owns NIU's top-eight individual scoring performances this season, including career-high 31 points versus Ohio last Wednesday (1/27/2010). Silas also paces the Huskies in free throw percentage (.793), making 121 trips to the charity stripe in just 14 games, an average of 8.6 free throw attempts per game.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION?
For the 2009-10 Northern Illinois basketball team, the month of January, and the start of the 2010 calendar year, represented the hottest month in recent memory. NIU went 6-3 in the month of 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. The Huskies can only hope that February brings more success -- NIU has won just a combined seven games during the month of February the last three seasons.

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 6.8 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 5-1 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 has 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's 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 4-45 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.