Feb. 8, 2011
Notes: Game 22 at Miami
NIU (7-14, 3-6) at Miami (11-12, 6-3)
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 | 7 p.m. ET
Oxford, Ohio | Millett Hall | 6,400
NIU Radio Availability
WLBK | 1360 AM | DeKalb
WJOL | 1340 AM | Joliet
WKRS | 1220 AM | Waukegan
Northern Illinois travels to Oxford, Ohio, for a meeting with Miami University on Wednesday evening in its next-to-last game against a member of the MAC East Division. NIU is coming off an 80-73 setback at Ohio and currently stands at 7-14 overall, 3-6 in the Mid-American Conference. Xavier Silas, the nation's second-leading scorer, led the Huskies with 25 points against the Bobcats. Antone Christian scored 17 points, setting a new career-high, Tim Toler recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and DeMarcus Grady added a career-best nine points.
Miami is 11-12 overall, 6-3 in the MAC East Division. The RedHawks have won three of their last four games, including a 58-56 victory at Eastern Michigan last time out. Julian Mavunga leads Miami in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 boards per game. Under Charlie Coles, who is in his 15th season as the head coach at Miami, the RedHawks played an extremely difficult non-conference schedule that included games against Ohio State, Kansas, Duke and San Diego State, all of whom are ranked in the tip-six in the nation. Miami is 8-4 at home this season.
Against the RedHawks
Northern Illinois trails in the all-time series against Miami, 24-12. The RedHawks have won six-straight in the series overall and hold an 18-1 advantage in games played in Oxford. NIU's lone victory at Miami came on Feb. 21, 1981, a 75-63 triumph, Miami has won 12-straight at home since.
Close Calls in Conference
NIU has a 3-6 record in conference play, but four of those six losses have come by a combined 12 points. The Huskies dropped their MAC opener to Ball State by five, 75-70. They lost back-to-back games in Michigan by two points, falling at Central Michigan 66-64 and at Western Michigan 82-80, and has a three-point loss, 73-70, in overtime against Bowling Green.
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 41 times in 46 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 508 points this season.
When Opportunity Knocks ... Christian Answers
After not seeing any action in the previous three games, Antone Christian has netted new career highs in four of the last five games. Christian scored a new career-high eight points against Western Michigan (Jan. 22). Proving that wasn't a one-hit wonder, Christian backed up that performance with 13 points against Akron (Jan. 26). He had another career-high 15, including the game-tying three with 16 seconds left in regulation, against Bowling Green (Feb. 2), and most recently scored 17 points at Ohio (Feb. 5).
Toler Picks Up First Career Double-Double
Tim Toler recorded his first double-double against Ohio (Feb. 5) with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Toler's double-double came as the Huskies were down a man in the post as Nate Rucker played just six minutes before leaving due to a bruised tailbone. NIU has had back-to-back double-doubles with Rucker posting 10 points and 10 boards against Bowling Green (Feb. 2).
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.
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 with 102 rebounds and is shooting 55.3 percent during conference play. .
MAC Honors Times Five for Silas
Xavier Silas earned his fifth Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor last week 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 36.9 rebounds per game, NIU has the second-best rebounding team in the MAC during conference play. Three Huskies rank in the top-20 in the conference in rebounds in conference. Tim Toler is pulling down 6.0 boards per contest, tied for 12th-best in the league, while Xavier Silas and Lee Fisher are both averaging 5.3 rebounds per game, tied for 20th in the MAC.
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.
Hall Guides the Ship
Junior Bryan Hall has cemented his spot as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling. Hall is averaging 3.05 assists per game, 12th-best in the Mid-American Conference. He has dished out 3.56 assists per game since the beginning of conference play, ninth-best in the MAC. After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall leads NIU with 64 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.
In seven 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 nine games and leads the MAC in scoring at 24.4 points per conference game; Nate Rucker and Tim Toler have each hit the mark in six while Jeremy Landers and Antone Christian have hit double-digits twice. NIU had three players score in double figures in six of its 12 non-conference games.
Toler Dials Long Distance
Tim Toler has made 24 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 18-of-35 from three. Toler is third in three-point percentage in conference play and 11th 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 70.2 percent as ateam, third-best in the MAC. Silas is shooting 86.3 percent individually, second-best in the MAC and 49th nationally.
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 15 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 10, 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.
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 46.6 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 43.0 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.
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.
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.
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.
Northern Illinois will begin a four-game home stand on Saturday, Feb. 12, when the Huskies welcome Kent State to the NIU Convocation Center. Game time against the Golden Flashes is set for 3 p.m.