Huskies Wrap Up MAC-East Road Swing at Akron Wednesday

GO HUSKIES Lee Fisher ripped down a career-high 12 rebounds at Kent State.
GO HUSKIES
Lee Fisher ripped down a career-high 12 rebounds at Kent State.
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 2, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-12, 4-4 MAC) AT AKRON (15-7, 5-3 MAC) » February 3, 2010 » James A. Rhodes Arena » Akron, 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])
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com/GoZips.com (Live Stats)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Akron leads, 18-7/W2

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will look to get back on the winning track Wednesday, when the Huskies travel to Akron, Ohio to take on the Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena beginning at 6 p.m. NIU has recorded wins in each of the last two contests against Akron.

The Huskies are coming off Monday's 76-46 loss at Kent State in a Mid-American Conference divisional crossover game. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson (12 points) was the lone Huskie in double figures, and NIU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field.

The Huskies trailed by just nine (38-29) at halftime, but the Golden Flashes shot 50 percent in the second frame, and used a 9-0 run mid-way through the half to pull away. Kent State received 31 points from its bench, and scored 19 points off second-chance opportunities, despite the Huskies holding a 45-42 rebounding advantage in the game.

Sophomore forward Lee Fisher ripped down a career-high 12 rebounds to go along with seven points. Junior guard Xavier Silas, the MAC's leading scorer during conference play, was limited to a season-low seven points on 1-of-9 shooting.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will return home Saturday, when the Huskies take on MAC-East foe Miami (Ohio) at the Convocation Center, starting at 3 p.m. CST. The RedHawks are 8-13 on the season, 5-3 in the MAC, and are winless (0-10) on the road. Miami will face Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on Thursday night.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois will be in pursuit of its third-straight win over Akron, and its second-consecutive win over the Zips at Rhodes Arena -- the Huskies outlasted host Akron, 88-78, on Feb. 12, 2008, in head coach Ricardo Patton's first road win at NIU ... In last season's 83-79 win at the Convocation Center, the Huskies raced out to a 19-point lead in the first half, before holding off Akron's second half rally -- Darion "Jake" Anderson scored a team-high 24 points, and was joined in double figures by Tyler Storm and Sean Kowal, who each scored 13 points ... The Zips were paced by Brett McKnight's 24 points (10-20) and 10 rebounds ... During MAC play, NIU is 2-2 on the road, averaging 60.2 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 64.8 points per contest -- junior guard Xavier Silas is averaging 19.3 points per outing in MAC road games, and Anderson has added 10.5 rebounds and 7.0 rebounds per contest ... Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno tallied his 100th career rebound, and Anderson collected his 350th career field goal Wednesday night at Kent State ... Silas scored just seven points, but passed the 300-point plateau, and has 303 points on the season ... Senior forward Najul Ervin enters Wednesday's game with 199 career points, and is just one tally away from becoming the third active player to score at least 200 points and pull down 200 or more rebounds -- he would join Kowal and Anderson in that department.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Tie its entire Mid-American Conference win total from the 2008-09 season
» Record its third-straight win over Akron, and its second-straight at Rhodes Arena
» Improve to 3-2 on the road during MAC play

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Lose its fifth-straight MAC game
» Fall to 0-4 versus MAC-East foes this season
» Drop to below .500 in league play for the first time on the season

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Wednesday's game with an 8-12 overall record, 4-4 in the Mid-American Conference, and has dropped four-straight league decisions, including three in MAC-East divisional crossover play. NIU is 3-7 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 20.2 points per game, including a MAC second-best 21.9 points per MAC contest. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 11.6 points per game in conference play, while sophomore guard Mike DiNunno has scored 9.6 points with 4.0 assists per conference game. Junior center Sean Kowal, who leads the MAC in field goal percentage (.596), has added 9.0 points per contest in league games.

In conference play, the Huskies are leading the league in blocks per game (4.50), offensive rebounds (12.63 rpg) and defensive rebounds (27.63), while ranking third in assists per game (13.88) and rebounding margin (+3.1).

On the road, the Huskies are averaging 59.8 points per game, and allowing their opponents to score 71.9 points per contest. Silas is the lone player averaging double figures in scoring on the road, scoring 17.0 points to go along with 5.9 rebounds per road outing. Anderson has added 9.0 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game in road contests. NIU is shooting 37.6 percent from the field and 26.6 percent from three-point range on the road, and has out-rebounded its foes by an average of 1.4 caroms per game.

SCOUTING THE ZIPS
Akron enters Wednesday's contest with a 15-7 record, and ranks second in the MAC-East with a 5-3 league mark. The Zips, who will be playing their third-straight home game Wednesday, are 10-3 at Rhodes Arena this season. Akron dropped a 62-59 decision versus visiting Eastern Michigan Monday night.

Akron has just one player (Preseason All-MAC First-Team selection Brett McKnight; 10.0 points per game) averaging double figures in scoring, but boasts seven players with a scoring average of at least seven points per contest. During MAC play, Jimmy Conyers is scoring 11.5 points per contest, while Chris McKnight and Brett McKnight are averaging 9.6 and 9.4 points per game, respectively. Conyers has added a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game during MAC contests.

In MAC play, Akron paces the league in field goal percentage (.443) and scoring margin (+7.4), while ranking second in scoring defense (62.2 ppg), defensive field goal percentage (.404) and assists per game (13.86).

NIU DRAWS EASTERN ILLINOIS FOR BRACKETBUSTERS CONTEST
The Huskies will travel 220 miles southeast to Charleston, Ill., for the 2010 ESPNU BracketBusters contest, as the ESPN Family of Networks announced Monday that NIU will take on host Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 20, beginning at 6 p.m.

The Huskies (8-11, 4-3 MAC) will be playing in their fifth road game during the history of the BracketBusters series. NIU owns a 45-41 edge in the all-time series against Eastern Illinois, but the two teams have not gone head-to-head since the 2004-05 campaign (12/11/04). Dating back to the 2004-05 season, the Huskies are 1-3 in BracketBusters contests. NIU defeated host SEMO last season (2/21/09), 97-73.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
Junior guard Xavier Silas, who was forced to sit out five games with a fractured shooting hand earlier this season, is officially a member of the Mid-American Conference individual statistics. Since he had not played in 75 percent of NIU's contest before Monday night's game at Kent State, he did not appear in the overall MAC stats. Just as a summary, here is how Silas ranks, now that he has played in 15-of-20 games: second in scoring (20.2 ppg), 20th in rebounding (5.3 rpg), ninth in free throw percentage (.789), seventh in three-point field goals made per game (2.13), 14th in defensive rebounds (4.07 rpg) and 13th in minutes played (31.87 mpg).

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 at Toledo (1/20/2010) and CMU (1/23/2010). 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.

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 (1,054), rebounds (438), assists (214), steals (92), field goals (350), three-point field goals (77) and free throws (277) made, and total minutes played (2,326/30.2 mpg).

ELITE COMPANY
Junior guard Xavier Silas enters Monday's contest averaging a Mid-American Conference best 20.2 points in his 15 games played this season, which would qualify as the 17th-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 (.789), making 128 trips to the charity stripe.

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 6.9 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 5-1 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 4-46 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.