Huskies Finish Play Against MAC East Saturday in Buffalo

GO HUSKIES Redshirt junior guard Antone Christian
GO HUSKIES
Redshirt junior guard Antone Christian
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 8, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (5-16, 3-6 MAC) at Buffalo Bulls (8-15, 3-6 MAC)
Date / Time: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 / 12 p.m. CT (1 p.m. ET)
Site: Alumni Arena • Buffalo, N.Y.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: BuffaloBulls.com
Live Stats: BuffaloBulls.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Tied, 13-13
Last Meeting: Jan. 28, 2012 • UB 74-59

WHAT’S TRENDING
Abdel Nader is averaging 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over the last three games. Last time out against Bowling Green, Nader fell just two rebounds shy of his third consecutive double-double.
• On Monday (Feb. 4), Abdel Nader was named MAC West Division Player of the Week. Nader averaged 22.5 points and 11.0 rebounds last week against Kent State and Toledo.
J.J. Cravatta is averaging 5.4 points and 2.0 rebounds per game over the past seven contests, playing an average of 16.4 minutes per game.
Daveon Balls has a 1.6 assist/turnover ratio over the last six games.
Sam Mader returned to action against Bowling Green (Feb. 6), playing eight minutes. Mader has missed the previous five games due to a shoulder injury.
• With its victory over Kent State, NIU has recorded multiple wins against the MAC East Division for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
• Saturday’s contest is the last regular season game against a MAC East foe.
Darrell Bowie is averaging 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game during conference play. Bowie ranks sixth in scoring among conference freshmen in league play and ranks fifth in rebounding. Bowie entered league play averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 11-of-14 games this season; Nader has scored in double figures in 28 games during his career, including six 20-plus games.
• 10 different players have started at least one game for the Huskies with Antone Christian becoming the 10th player to make a start, making his first start of the year at Miami (Jan. 9).
• Keith and Kevin Gray have both played in 52-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

NADER NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Sophomore Abdel Nader was named Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week on Feb. 4, following his performances against Kent State and Toledo.
• Nader averaged 22.5 points and 11.0 rebounds for the week, recording double-doubles in both contests, the first two double-doubles of his career.
• Nader tied a career-high with 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Kent State. Nader hit a game-winning, 18-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds left to lift the Huskies to a two-point win over the Golden Flashes.
• The sophomore then scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Toledo.
• Nader finished the week shooting 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from behind the 3-point arc.

RESPONDING TO ADVERSITY
Northern Illinois has done an excellent job of responding following tough games all season long; consider the following four contests and the game immediately following:
• NIU lost at Dayton on Dec. 1, 60-43, scoring just five points in the first half. The Huskies responded from a difficult first half by outscoring Dayton in the second half, 38-34. NIU then went on to win its next game against SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 5), 65-54, shooting 52 percent from the field in the contest.
• Seattle defeated Northern Illinois, 75-48, on Dec. 19. The Huskies answered with a strong performance against Washington (Dec.22), trailing by six with less than two minutes to play before falling, 67-57.
• After a 71-34 home loss against Western Michigan (Jan. 19), NIU earned its first win at Central Michigan (Jan. 23) since 2006 with a 74-61 victory over the Chippewas. The Huskies shot 48.8 percent from the field in the contest, including 52.6 percent from 3-point range.
• NIU scored four first half points in a 42-25 loss at Eastern Michigan (Jan. 26). The Huskies answered that performance with a 67-65 win over Kent State (Jan. 30). Northern Illinois never trailed against the Golden Flashes, shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 53.8 percent behind the arc.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES
• The Huskies season thus far has been a tale of two halves with NIU finding greater success after halftime.
• The Huskies are averaging nine more points per game in the second half that the first half while shooting over eight percent better from the field, seven percent better from three and five percent better from the free-throw line.
• In the opening 20 minutes this season, NIU is averaging 23.6 points while shooting 31.8 percent from the field, 24.4 percent from three and 63.5 percent from the free-throw line.
• The Huskies have 80 first half assists and 172 first half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is NIU’s leading scorer in the first half of games this season, each averaging 5.2 points.
• In the second half this year, NIU is averaging 32.1 points while shooting 40.2 percent from the field, 31.4 percent from three and 68.0 percent from the free-throw line.
• NIU has 101 second half assists and 145 second half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is also NIU’s leading second half scorer at 9.1 points.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 56.5 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 26.1 percent of the minutes (a total of 82.6 percent by underclassmen).
• The team leading at halftime has won all 20 games played by NIU this season. The one exception was at Miami (Jan. 9) when the Huskies and RedHawks were tied at the half, NIU won that contest.
• Preseason All-MAC selection Abdel Nader played his first game of the season at UW Milwaukee (Dec. 7) after a season-opening suspension for violation of team rules.
• Northern Illinois is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 0.9 boards per contest.  
• Northern Illinois returns its top-five scoring letterwinners and top-six rebounders from a season ago.
• Nine of the 14 players making up the Huskie roster this season are underclassmen.
• Of the five upperclassmen on NIU’s roster, one will sit out this season following a transfer (Pete Rakocevic) and another had never played a Division I game until this season (Brandon Hayes).
• NIU made its first appearance in the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, playing Valparaiso at 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Huskies were one of two MAC schools, along with Kent State, that will appear in the marathon.
• The Huskies will play 10 teams that appeared in postseason play a season ago: Valpo (Horizon League regular season champs, NIT), Dayton (NIT), Milwaukee (CBI), Washington (Pac-12 regular season champs, NIT Final Four), UMass (NIT Final Four), Akron (MAC regular season champs, NIT), Bowling Green (CIT), Buffalo (CIT), Kent State (CIT) and Ohio (NCAA Sweet 16).

THE EXPERIENCE TRACKER
• Developed by StatSheet.com, “The Experience Tracker” looks at the experience per minute played by every team in the country.
• Each team’s number is generated by taking the sum of minutes each player plays, multiplied by their class (1-freshmen, 2-sophomores, 3-juniors, 4-seniors) divided by the total of team minutes.
• Northern Illinois is currently the third-least experienced team in the country (1.62) behind Texas (1.42) and Dartmouth (1.61).
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is seventh in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.5 steals per game.
Abdel Nader is tied for 12th in scoring in conference games at 14.0 points per contest and tied for eighth in rebounding at 6.6 boards per game. Nader is also tied for eighth with 1.6 steals per game.
Darrell Bowie is sixth in scoring among freshmen in league games (6.3 ppg) and ranks fifth in rebounding among conference rookies in league play (4.0 rpg).  
• NIU leads the MAC in offensive rebounds, grabbing 13.4 per contest. The Huskies are second in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.9 percent and first in defensive rebounding percentage in conference at 72.2 percent.  

LIVING AT THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 216 free throws during conference play, an average of 24.0 per contest.
• In contrast, the Huskies shot 179 free throws in non-conference action, an average of 14.9 trips per game.
Darrell Bowie (41) leads NIU in free throw attempts in MAC contests.
Daveon Balls leads the Huskies in free throw shooting in conference play, connecting at a 76.9 percent clip.  

WHAT’S BACK FOR NIU
• With its six-man returning nucleus from a season ago, the Huskies return more than 60 percent of their production for 2011-12 in most statistical categories.
• The following are NIU’s percentages returning from last season: minutes (60.7 percent), scoring (62.6), rebounds (63.1), assists (47.0), blocks (71.2) and steals (57.1).
• By comparison, here are the numbers that returned at the beginning of last season from the 2010-11 campaign: minutes (33.8 percent), scoring (32.0), rebounds (31.8), assists (26.6), blocks (39.7) and steals (27.4).

ABOUT BUFFALO
• The Bulls enters Saturday’s contest with an 8-15 overall record, 3-6 in conference play. UB has lost its last two contests, falling at Western Michigan, 71-60 (Feb. 2), and Eastern Michigan, 65-46 (Feb. 6).
• Javon McCrea is averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to lead the Bulls. McCrea is the second-leading scorer in the MAC and the fourth-leading rebounder.
• Buffalo’s Reggie Witherspoon is the longest tenured head coach in the MAC, Witherspoon is in his 14th season as head coach of the Bulls.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Northern Illinois and Buffalo are tied in the all-time series, 13-13.
• After NIU dominated the early meetings in the series, Buffalo has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the schools.
• NIU’s last victory in the series came on Jan. 7, 2006, an 84-82 overtime win in DeKalb.
• The Huskies have not won in Buffalo’s Alumni Arena since Feb. 6, 2003 (70-61), it is the longest road losing streak for the Huskies in conference play.

BOWLING GREEN RECAP
• Bowling Green led wire-to-wire for a 57-41 victory at the NIU Convocation Center.
Abdel Nader was just two rebounds shy of his third consecutive double-double. Nader finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
• NIU shot 45.5 percent (10-of-22) from the field in the second half.
• The Huskies outrebounded the Falcons, 38-34.
• Bowling Green shot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) in the first half.
• NIU did not record a blocked shot in the contest; it was the third game this season in which the Huskies did not have a block.

TOLEDO RECAP
• Despite having a three-point lead with three minutes to play, Northern Illinois fell at home to Toledo, 69-64.
Aksel Bolin scored a career-high 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 2-of-2 from three and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Abdel Nader recorded his second consecutive double-double with 19 points and a career-high-tying 11 rebounds.
J.J. Cravatta tied a career-high with 10 points while playing a career-best 25 minutes.
Travon Baker dished out four assists, tying a career-high. Baker also finished with five points and three rebounds.
• NIU shot 50 percent (5-of-10) from behind the 3-point arc in the second half against the Rockets.

BREAKING A 32-YEAR HEX
• With its 72-61 victory at Miami on Jan. 9, Northern Illinois snapped a 13-game losing streak in Oxford, Ohio. NIU’s last road victory against the RedHawks came on Feb. 21, 1981.
• The Huskies entered the game at Miami with a 1-19 record all-time in Oxford.
• The victory over Miami gave NIU a 1-0 start in conference play for the first time since 2009-10 when the Huskies won at Ball State in the league opener.
• Having broken the losing streak at Miami, NIU’s longest conference road losing streak is now six, at Buffalo. The last Huskie victory in Buffalo came on Feb. 6, 2003.

ANOTHER STREAK BITES THE DUST
• After snapping a 13-game losing streak at Miami (Ohio) in the conference opener, NIU snapped another road losing streak at Central Michigan.
• NIU’s victory in Mt. Pleasant on Jan. 23 was its first at Central Michigan since a 49-43 victory on Jan. 26, 2006.
• The win snapped a six-game losing streak on the road against the Chippewas.

A CONVO FIRST, AND FIRST SINCE 2003
• Northern Illinois broke another streak in conference play with its 67-65 victory over Kent State on Jan. 30. The Huskie win snapped an 11 game losing streak to Kent State.
Abdel Nader recorded his first career double-double with a career-high-tying 26 points and a career-best 11 rebounds against the Golden Flashes. Nader hit a pull-up, 18-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds left to win the game for NIU.
• The victory was NIU’s first against Kent State since, Feb. 8, 2003, when NIU earned a 67-61 win at Kent State.
• The win marked the first time the Huskies have defeated the Golden Flashes in the NIU Convocation Center. NIU’s last home win against Kent State was a 64-52 triumph on Jan. 3, 1998, at NIU’s former home, Chick Evans Fieldhouse.