Huskies Return Home to Take on Miami (Ohio) Saturday Afternoon

GO HUSKIES Xavier Silas
GO HUSKIES
Xavier Silas
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 5, 2010

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-13, 4-5 MAC) VS. MIAMI (OHIO) (9-13, 6-3 MAC) » February 6, 2010 » Convocation Center » DeKalb, Ill. » 3 p.m. CST

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Tip-off: 6 p.m. CST
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (WLBK, 1360, [DeKalb])
Live Video: Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com (Gametracker)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Miami leads, 23-12/Lost 5
Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will look to pick up its third home win during Mid-American Conference play Saturday afternoon, when the Huskies host MAC-East foe Miami (Ohio) at the Convocation Center beginning at 3 p.m. The matinee will mark the Huskies' third game in the past six days.

Junior guard Xavier Silas scored a team-high 15 points, and was joined in double figures by Darion "Jake" Anderson, Tony Nixon and Sean Kowal, who each scored 12 points. Akron was led by Darryl Roberts, who scored a game-high 18 points to also lead a foursome in double figures.

NIU out-scored the Zips 47-44 in the second half, but could not overcome a 17-point halftime deficit. Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the second half, and the Huskies held a 42-34 advantage in the paint, but Akron's bench scored 40 points, and the Zips did not allow NIU to trim the deficit to less than 14 points in the second frame.

Miami (Ohio) is coming off Thursday night's 56-54 win at Western Michigan, picking up its first road victory of the season. Kenny Hayes scored a team-high 16 points, and Julian Mavunga (14 points) and Antonio Ballard (10) each tallied double-digit scoring efforts. The RedHawks limited WMU to just a 34 percent shooting effort in the game.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will conclude its divisional crossover stretch against the MAC-East next Wednesday (Feb. 10), when the Huskies travel to Bowling Green, Ohio, to take on the Falcons beginning at 6 p.m. CST. BGSU is 11-10 on the season, 4-5 in the MAC, and has posted a 6-3 record at home.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois will look to record its fourth win over Miami (Ohio) at the Convocation Center since the 1999-2000 season, but its first since Feb. 25, 2004 -- the RedHawks have posted two-straight road wins over NIU ... In last season's 80-52 loss to the RedHawks at Millett Hall, Miami held the Huskies to a season-low 30.9 percent shooting effort, including a 21.9 percent output in the first half -- Darion "Jake" Anderson scored a team-high 13 points, while the RedHawks were paced by Antonio Ballard's 14 points ... The RedHawks tallied eight blocks in the game ... During MAC play, NIU is 2-2 at home, averaging 82.8 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 85.0 points per contest ... Junior guard Xavier Silas is averaging 24.5 points per outing in MAC home games; Mike DiNunno has scored 15.3 points along with six assists per game, while Anderson has added 12.8 points with a team-high six rebounds ... Head coach Ricardo Patton owns a 145-64 home record as a college head coach, dating back to his 12-year run at Colorado ... Northern Illinois is 43-44 at the Convocation Center since playing its first game at the facility on Nov. 23, 2002 ... The Huskies have compiled a 23-31 record against MAC opponents at the Convocation Center over those seven seasons ... Sophomore forward Lee Fisher is slated to play his 50th career game Saturday ... Junior center Sean Kowal enters the contest with 198 career field goals, and is two made shots away from 200 for his NIU career.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Tie its entire Mid-American Conference win total from the 2008-09 campaign
» Record its first win over a MAC-East opponent this season
» Improve to 3-2 at home during MAC home games

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Lose its sixth-straight MAC game
» Fall to 0-3 at home versus MAC-East foes
» Drop its sixth-straight decision against Miami (Ohio)

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Saturday's game with an 8-13 overall record, 4-5 in the Mid-American Conference, and has dropped five-straight league decisions, including four in MAC-East divisional crossover play. NIU is 5-5 at home this season, but has not recorded a win at the Convocation Center since Jan. 16.

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 19.9 points per game, including a MAC second-best 21.1 points per MAC contest. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 11.7 points per game in conference play, while junior center Sean Kowal, who leads the MAC in field goal percentage (.596), has added 9.3 points per contest in league games.

In conference play, the Huskies are leading the league in offensive rebounds (12.78 rpg) and defensive rebounds (26.78), while ranking second in blocks per game (4.33), and third in both rebounding margin (+2.3) and assists per game (14.11).

At home, Northern Illinois is averaging 74.2 points per game, and allowing their opponents to score 71.4 points per contest. Silas is averaging 23.9 points in seven home games, while Darion "Jake" Anderson has added 13.1 points with 7.8 rebounds contest. Mike DiNunno is scoring 10.1 points with 3.7 assists in home games this season.

SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS
Miami (Ohio) enters Saturday's with a 9-13 record, and is 6-3 in MAC play. The RedHawks, who are playing their second-straight road game, are 1-10 away from Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio this season. Miami has captured three-consecutive wins against MAC-West opponents, holding all three of those foes below 55 points.

The RedHawks are being led by senior guard Kenny Hayes, a preseason All-MAC First-Team selection, who is averaging a team-high 14.1 points per game. Julian Mavunga has added 10.1 points per contest during conference play, and is the team's leading rebounder, with 6.3 caroms per outing.

In MAC play, Miami leads the league in scoring defense (59.4 ppg) and blocks per game (4.89), while ranking in the top-five of the conference in free throw percentage (.727), field goal percentage defense (.401) and defensive rebounds (24.33 rpg).

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 last Monday'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 16-of-21 games: second in scoring (19.9 ppg), eighth in free throw percentage (.788), ninth in three-point field goals made per game (2.00) and 13th in minutes played (31.31 mpg).

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 (1,066), rebounds (443), assists (218), steals (93), field goals (354), three-point field goals (77) and free throws (281) made, and total minutes played (2,354/30.2 mpg).

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.

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.

ELITE COMPANY
Junior guard Xavier Silas enters Monday's contest averaging a Mid-American Conference best 19.9 points in his 16 games played this season, which would qualify as the 19th-best single-season mark in NIU history. Silas has scored 20 or more points seven times this season, boasts a total of 13 double digit scoring outputs, and has been the Huskies' leading scorer on 13 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 (.788), making 137 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 6.8 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 4-47 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.