NIU Travels to Ohio

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

Feb. 4, 2011

Notes: Game 21 at Ohio Get Acrobat Reader

NIU (7-13, 3-5) at Ohio (10-12, 3-5)

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 | 3 p.m. ET
Athens, Ohio | Convocation Center | 13,168

NIU Radio Availability
WLBK  | 1360 AM | DeKalb
WSCR  | 670 AM | Chicago

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois returns to the road for the first of back-to-back contests in the state of Ohio when it travels to Athens to play Ohio University on Saturday afternoon. NIU enters the contest with a 7-13 overall record, 3-5 in the Mid-American Conference, following a 73-70 overtime loss at home to Bowling Green. Xavier Silas scored a team-high 23 points and Antone Christian netted a career-best 15, including the game-tying three-pointer with 16 seconds left in regulation, but it wasn't enough to earn the victory. Silas is currently averaging 24.2 points per game, second in the nation behind BYU's Jimmer Fredette.

About Ohio
Ohio has a 10-12 overall record, 3-5 in the MAC, and is coming off a 91-85 loss at Central Michigan on Wednesday. The Bobcats are led by D.J. Cooper who is averaging 17.6 points per game and has 169 assists on the season. The Bobcats, who are 6-8 at home this season, have played three overtime contests already this year, including a four overtime game at St. Bonaventure and a three overtime contest against Miami (Ohio). John Grose is in his third season as the head coach at Ohio, last year he led the Bobcats to the MAC Tournament Championship and a win over Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Against the Bobcats
Northern Illinois trails in the all-time series against Ohio, 27-16. The Bobcats hold a 15-6 edge in the series in games played in Athens. Ohio has won three-straight overall in the series. NIU's last win against Ohio came on Feb. 10, 2007, in Athens, an 81-74 triumph for the Huskies. 

Close Calls in Conference
NIU has a 3-5 record in conference play, but four of those five losses have come by a combined 12 points. The Huskies dropped their MAC opener to Ball State by five, 75-70. They also lost back-to-back games in Michigan by two points, falling at Central Michigan 66-64 and at Western Michigan 82-80. Most recently, the Huskies dropped a 73-70 overtime decision to Bowling Green.

Working Overtime
The 73-70 defeat against Bowling Green was NIU's first overtime game of the season and it's first since Nov. 22, 2009, when the Huskies fell 70-64 at Southeast Missouri State. The last overtime victory for Northern Illinois came on Nov. 20, 2006, an 87-72 defeat of Duquesne.

Shorthanded Against the Falcons
With Jeremy Landers and Tim Toler out due to illness, Aksel Bolin out due to an appendicitis and Kyree Jones out with a long-term back injury, Northern Illinois dressed just 10 players against Bowling Green. The illness to Landers and Toler also forced NIU to make its first adjustment to the starting lineup in 17 games as Lee Fisher and Michael Patton moved into the starting five in place of the ill duo. The Huskies finished the overtime against the Falcons with just eight eligible players after two players fouled out.

Silas Among the Nation's Elite Scorers
After finishing the 2009-10 campaign as the MAC's No. 2 scorer with 19.7 points per game, Northern Illinois senior Xavier Silas is scoring at an even faster pace this season. The Texas native is averaging 24.2 points per game, second in the nation (behind BYU's Jimmer Fredette) and tops in the Mid-American Conference. Silas scored a career-high 40 points against Illinois-Chicago, recording NIU's first 40-plus point game since Paul Dawkins netted 47 at Western Michigan on Feb. 28, 1979.  In his Huskie career, Silas has scored in double figures 40 times in 45 games played.  He scored 493 points in 2009-10 despite missing five games due to a hand injury suffered in the season opener and has 483 points this season.

In his collegiate career between Colorado and Northern Illinois, Silas has scored an even 1,500 career points.

When Opportunity Knocks ... Christian Answers
After not seeing any action in the previous three games, Antone Christian provided a spark off the NIU bench with a career-high eight points against Western Michigan (Jan. 22). Proving that he wasn't a one-hit wonder, Christian backed up that performance with another new career-best 13 points against Akron (Jan. 26). Christian netted a new career-high for the third time in four games when he scored 15 points, including the game-tying three with 16 seconds left in regulation, against Bowling Green (Feb. 2). Christian also tied a career-best with six rebounds against the Falcons. 

Second Double-Double for Rucker
Nate Rucker recorded his second career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Bowling Green (Feb. 2). Rucker's first double-double came in his second career game with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Bradley (Nov. 16). Rucker leads NIU in rebounding at 5.0 boards per game and is sixth in the MAC in field goal percentage in conference games, shooting 55.6 percent.

MAC Honors Times Five for Silas
Xavier Silas earned his fifth Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor on Monday after averaging 29.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last week against Akron and Buffalo.

Silas earned his first accolade on Nov. 22, after scoring a combined 56 points the previous week against Bradley and Cardinal Stritch. He earned his second honor the following week following a 34-point performance in a victory at Maryland-Eastern Shore. Silas' third honor came on Dec. 19, after averaging 33.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in a pair of games against Illinois-Chicago and Temple. That week included a career night against UIC when Silas scored 40 points, breaking the NIU Convocation Center scoring record. His fourth honor came on Jan. 17, after posting 25.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in a pair of wins over Eastern Michigan and Toledo.

NIU to Host Seattle in ESPNU BracketBusters
On Monday (Jan. 31), ESPN announced the matchups for the 2011 ESPNU BracketBusters event. NIU will host Seattle University. The contest will be NIU's seventh all-time BracketBuster game and just its second home game in the event. NIU's previous home contest came on Feb. 17, 2007, when the Huskies fell, 82-76, to UW-Green Bay. The Huskies are 1-5 all-time in the BracketBuster, having won at Southeastern Missouri State on Feb. 21, 2009. Last season, NIU fell, 73-70, at Eastern Illinois (Feb. 20, 2010) in its BracketBuster contest. 

Hitting the Glass
Averaging 36.8 rebounds per game, NIU has the top rebounding team in the MAC during conference play. The Huskies have largely done so by rebounding as a team, no NIU player ranks in the top-15 in the conference in rebounding. Xavier Silas leads Northern Illinois in rebounding in conference at 5.6 boards per game (tied for 16th in the league) and Tim Toler is pulling down 5.4 rebounds per contest (tied for 19th).

Sick Silas Nearly Nets 40
Despite missing practice two days prior, and being limited the day before, Xavier Silas scored 39 points to help NIU to an 83-74 win over Akron (Jan. 26). Silas was 9-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-9 from three, and 16-of-20 from the charity stripe in the contest with five NBA scouts watching courtside. Silas is one of just two players in the country with two-or-more games of 39-plus points; Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette has four such games. 

Toler Hits the Glass
Although he scored just two points, his lowest total since Nov. 21, Tim Toler contributed in other ways in NIU's victory over Akron (Jan. 26), including grabbing a career-best 12 rebounds. It was the second double-digit rebounding performance of the season for Toler, the first came on Jan. 3 at Iowa State.

Hall Guides the Ship
Junior Bryan Hall has cemented his spot as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling. Hall is averaging 3.00 assists per game, 12th-best in the Mid-American Conference. He has dished out 3.50 assists per game since the beginning of conference play, tied for ninth-best in the MAC. After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall leads NIU with 60 assists this season.  More than just a passer however, against Western Michigan (Jan. 22), Hall stuffed the stat sheet with five points, four rebounds, five assists and a career-best four steals.

Three's Company
In six conference games this season, the Huskies have had at least three players score in double figures. Xavier Silas has been in double figures in all eight games, Nate Rucker has hit the mark in six and Tim Toler has netted double digits in five conference contests. Silas is first in scoring in conference games at 24.4 points per game. Jeremy Landers has hit double-digits twice and Antone Christian reached the mark once. NIU had three players score in double figures in six of its 12 non-conference games.

Toler Dials Long Distance
Tim Toler has made 23 three-point field goals this season, second-best on the team behind Xavier Silas. Toler entered MAC play just 6-of-24 from beyond the arc, but has caught fire in conference, shooting 17-of-32 from three. Toler is second in three-point percentage in conference play and ninth in triples made.

Toler Starts 2011 With Career Highs
Tim Toler recorded new career bests in both points and rebounds in the first two games of the new year. In NIU's first game of 2011 at Iowa State (Jan. 3), Toler set a new career-high in rebounds, grabbing 10 boards as the Huskies pushed the Cyclones down to the wire. He then registered a new career-high with 22 points in the conference opener against Ball State (Jan. 8). He has since surpassed his career high in rebounding, pulling down 12 boards in a victory over Akron (Jan. 26).

Career Days Cap 2010
Jeremy Landers and Bryan Hall each scored career highs in NIU's 86-76 New Year's Eve victory over Utah Valley. Landers scored 17 points, bettering his previous best of 14 set earlier this season at DePaul (Dec. 2) and Hall had 13 points to top his previous best of 10 against Boise State (Nov. 29) this season.

Charity Stripe Turnaround
A year ago, Northern Illinois shot just 64.6 percent from the free throw line as eight of NIU's 12 players with more than two attempts on the season hit less than 60 percent from the line. The Huskies ranked 290th in the country and 11th in the MAC in free throw percentage, despite Xavier Silas' 81.1 percent mark.  So far in 2010-11, the Huskies have improved upon last season's mark, shooting 69.8 percent as ateam, third-best in the MAC.

Silas Smashes Records vs. UIC
Xavier Silas scored 40 points to lead NIU to an 80-78 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 14. Silas' 40 points set a new NIU Convocation Center scoring record, the record was previously 35 by Buffalo's Andy Robinson on Feb. 5, 2008. NIU's previous best at the Convocation Center was 32 by Darion Anderson against Chicago State on Dec. 6, 2008.

Silas also scored 28 points in the second half of the contest, tying the NIU single-half record set by Larry Wyllie in the second half at Eastern Michigan on Feb. 15, 1958.

He also tied the NIU school records for free throws made (22) and attempted (24) in a game. Both of those marks were set by Willie Hanson against Central Michigan on Feb. 26, 1966.

Finally, Silas' 22 free throws made also ties the Mid-American Conference record held by three other players: Jim Ray, Toledo (Feb. 27, 1956), Rick Rightnowar, Toledo (Feb. 1, 1992) and Ron Lewis, Bowling Green (March 10, 2003).

The 40-Point Club
With his 40 points against UIC, Xavier Silas became one of just 14 players in the nation to score 40 points in a game this season. Mike James of Lamar has the highest scoring game this year, 52 points against Division III Louisiana College. The third- and fourth-highest scoring games of the year came in a four overtime game between Ohio and St. Bonaventure. Of the 40-point games in the nation just nine, including Silas', came in a non-overtime game against a Division I opponent. BYU's Jimmer Fredette is the only player in the country with three 40+ point games.

On Target
Silas' scoring increase has not come with more shots, but through hitting a higher percentage of his shots.  So far this season, Silas has made 47.1 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 42.6 percent clip.  Those percentages are far ahead of his 38.3 and 32.1 percent marks for field goals and three-pointers made, respectively, a year ago. The Huskie records for single season percentages are 58.9 (overall) and 48.9 (threes).

Landers Lights Up the Scoreboard
Jeremy Landers produced an individual offensive explosion in an eight-game stretch this season between the DePaul game (Dec. 2) and the Ball State game (Jan. 8). In those eight games, Landers averaged 10.3 points per game, after averaging just 2.6 points per contest through the first five games of the season. Landers scored in double figures five times during the stretch, remarkable considering he had just four double-digit scoring games in his first 83 career games played. 

Silas a Senior CLASS Candidate
Xavier Silas was named one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's basketball.  The award honors seniors playing Division I basketball who have demonstrated high achievement in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition throughout their collegiate careers. Silas was not chosen as one of the 10 Lowe's Senior CLASS Finalists.

Quarterback Grady Joins Roster
Redshirt junior DeMarcus Grady, a quarterback on the NIU football team, joined the Huskie basketball roster on Monday, Dec.20, after returning from the Humanitarian Bowl. Grady, who started the football season opener at Iowa State, has not played basketball since high school when he was an all-state honorable mention player as a senior. Grady helped the NIU football team win a school-record 11 games this season.
 
Newest Huskies
Northern Illinois signed a pair of players for 2011-12 on Nov. 10. Zach Miller, a 5-9 guard from Glenbard East High School in Chicago, and DeAndre Barnette, a 6-4 wing from Liberty Tech in Jackson, Tenn., inked with the Huskies following successful junior seasons at their respective schools and equally as impressive summers. Miller helped lead the Rams to the Class 4A sectional final as a junior as he averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 steals and 7.2 assists per game.  He was the DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year.  Barnette led Liberty Tech to the Tennessee Class 2A title game and was named to the all-tournament team at the state tourney.

Streak Stopped
Xavier Silas started the season a perfect 28-of-28 from the free throw line before recording his first miss at Maryland Eastern Shore.  Silas made 42 straight free throws dating back to last year's penultimate game versus Toledo (March 4, 2010) before missing three of his last five free throws versus UMES.  Silas' made his last nine free throws versus Toledo last year, beginning with 31 seconds left in the first half.  He then hit all five of his tries in the MAC Tournament first-round game at Eastern Michigan. This year, he went 12-of-12 from the line versus Northwestern and hit all six of his tries at Bradley and versus Stritch, then made his first four free throws in Maryland.  Since missing his last attempt, Silas went 4-for-4 against Boise State.  The Northern Illinois record for consecutive free throws made in a season is 33 (by Todd Peterson in 2005-06); there is no record for consecutive free throws made in a career.   

Challenging Slate
Northern Illinois will face six opponents that played in the 2010 postseason with games against NCAA Tournament participants Temple (Dec. 18), Missouri (Dec. 27) and Ohio (Feb. 5) along with National Invitation Tournament (NIT) teams Kent State (Feb. 12) and Northwestern. Akron earned a trip to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last year.

Looking Ahead
NIU will return to Ohio on Wednesday, Feb. 9, when it travels to Oxford for a meeting with Miami University. Game time against the RedHawks is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.