Huskies Conclude MAC-East Swing at Bowling Green Wednesday

GO HUSKIES Lee Fisher scored a career-high 11 points versus Miami (Ohio).
Lee Fisher scored a career-high 11 points versus Miami (Ohio).

Feb. 9, 2010

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DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will look to salvage one win in the Mid-American Conference East Division crossover swing Wednesday night, when the Huskies take on host Bowling Green at Anderson Arena beginning at 6 p.m. The all-time series between the Huskies and Falcons is deadlocked at 25-25, but BGSU has won two-straight.

Northern Illinois is coming off last Saturday's 74-69 loss versus visiting Miami (Ohio). The Huskies fell behind by 18 points (44-26) at halftime, after seeing the RedHawks shoot a blistering 10-for-13 from three-point range. But NIU battled back in the second half, tying the score at 57-57 with just over seven minutes remaining, officially erasing a game-high 21-point deficit.

The Huskies committed just nine turnovers, ripped down 22 offensive rebounds (out-rebounding the RedHawks 42-30 overall), and received 23 points from their bench. But Miami shot an efficient 49 percent from the field for the game, and had 15 assists on its 25 field goals.

Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson led the spirited second-half comeback with a game-high 16 points, including 14 in the second stanza. He was joined in double figures by Xavier Silas (13 points), Lee Fisher (11) and Michael Patton. The RedHawks were led by preseason First-Team All-MAC selection Kenny Hayes, who scored a game-high 22 points to lead a foursome in double figures.

Northern Illinois will kick off the second round of Mid-American Conference West Division play at home Saturday, when the Huskies take on Ball State at the Convocation Center beginning at 3 p.m. The Huskies defeated the host Cardinals, 62-48, on Jan. 9, at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind.

Northern Illinois will look to avoid a three-game losing streak versus Bowling Green, after winning three-straight over the Falcons between Feb. 23, 2005 and Feb. 7, 2007 ... The Huskies boast 25 all-time wins over Bowling Green, more than any other Mid-American Conference East Division opponent -- 10 of those victories have occurred at Anderson Arena ... In last season's 69-61 loss to Bowling Green at the Convocation Center (1/31/09), the Falcons placed three players in double figures and out-rebounded the Huskies 48-39 ... Mike DiNunno led NIU with 15 points, and was joined in double figures by Sean Kowal (12) points -- Darion "Jake" Anderson did not play in the game ... During MAC play, NIU is 2-3 on the road, averaging 63.4 points per game, while allowing its league road opponents to score 69.8 points per contest ... Junior guard Xavier Silas is averaging 18.4 points per outing in MAC road games; Anderson has scored 10.8 points along with 6.6 per game, while Kowal has added 9.2 points and 6.4 caroms per MAC road outing ... Anderson, who corralled his 450th career rebound against Miami (Ohio), is slated to play his 80th career game Wednesday at BGSU -- he enters the game with 1,082 career points, just 18 tallies away from 1,100 ... Sophomore forward Lee Fisher, who is coming off a career-high 11 points versus the RedHawks, enters the Bowling Green contest with 96 points this season (he scored just 49 points in 2008-09), and is four points away from becoming the fifth NIU player this season to hit the 100-point plateau.

» 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 3-3 in MAC road games

» Lose its seventh-consecutive MAC game
» Fall to 0-3 on the road versus MAC-East foes
» Drop its third-straight decision against Bowling Green, dating back to the 2007-08 campaign

Northern Illinois enters Wednesday's game with an 8-14 overall record, 4-6 in the Mid-American Conference, and has dropped six-straight league decisions, including five in MAC-East divisional crossover play. NIU is 3-8 on the road this season -- its last win came in a 58-54 victory at Toledo on Jan. 20.

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a team-high 19.5 points per game, including a MAC second-best 20.3 points per MAC contest. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 12.1 points per game in conference play, while junior center Sean Kowal, who leads the MAC in field goal percentage (.613), has added 9.2 points per contest in league games.

In conference play, the Huskies are leading the league in offensive rebounds (13.70 rpg), while ranking second in defensive rebounds (26.10 rpg), rebounding margin (+3.3) and blocks per game (4.30). NIU ranks third in the MAC in both assists per game (14.10) and scoring offense (71.7 ppg).

On the road, Northern Illinois is averaging 61.3 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 73.5 points per contest. Silas is scoring 16.8 points in nine road games, while Anderson has added 9.3 points with a team-high 6.0 rebounds per contest.

Bowling Green, the defending regular-season Mid-American Conference champion, enters Wednesday's contest with an 11-11 record, and is 4-6 in MAC play. The Falcons, who have dropped two-straight MAC-West crossover games by a total of five points, will be playing their first home game since Feb. 1 against rival Toledo.

The Falcons are being led by sophomore guard Scott Thomas, who is averaging a team-high 11.9 points per game. Classmate Dee Brown has added 10.7 points per contest on a 44.2 percent effort from the field, and senior center Otis Polk is averaging a team-high 7.1 rebounds per outing.

In MAC play, Bowling Green leads the league in free throw percentage, at 74.4 percent -- four Falcons shoot at least 70 percent from the charity stripe in conference games. The Falcons are allowing their opponents to score just 63.1 points per game in MAC play, and rank third in the league in blocked shots (3.80 bpg).

Junior guard Xavier Silas, in his first season in a Huskie uniform, has wasted no time getting adjusted to Mid-American Conference basketball. The Colorado transfer ranks second in the MAC in scoring (19.5 ppg), eighth in free throw percentage (.787), ninth in three-point field goals made per game (2.00), and 17th in minutes played (30.94 mpg). In conference games, Silas has upped his scoring to a MAC second-best 20.3 points per game, ranks ninth in free throw percentage (.821), eighth in three-pointers per contest (2.10), 15th in defensive rebounds (4.10 rpg) and 14th in minutes played (32.30 mpg).

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, he 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. Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points (1,082), rebounds (450), assists (222), steals (93), field goals (360), three-point field goals (77) and free throws (285) made, and total minutes played (2,383/30.2 mpg).

Sean Kowal, who led the Mid-American Conference in field goal percentage as a sophomore, is well on his way to pacing the league in the same category in his junior campaign. Kowal is shooting a MAC-best 61.3 percent from the field in league contests, and in all games, ranks second in field goal percentage (.547). Kowal has scored in double figures seven times this season, boasts a team-high tying two double-doubles, and has led the Huskies in rebounding on seven occasions.

As mentioned, the Huskies lead the league in defensive rebounds (13.70 rpg), and rank second in offensive boards (26.10 rpg), in Mid-American Conference games -- NIU also boasts the league's second-highest rebounding margin (+3.3). The Huskies have out-rebounded 12 of their opponents this season, including six in MAC play, and have corralled at least 10 offensive rebounds in 19 individual contests.

One of the key ingredients to NIU's success on the boards has been the emergence of sophomore Lee Fisher, who has started the last 14 games. Fisher has pulled down eight or more rebounds five times, including in three-of the last five contests. Just 22 games into the season, Fisher has nearly doubled his point total from last season (49 to 96 points), and has already corralled 30 more rebounds (92) than he did all of last season (62).

The Huskies will travel 220 miles southeast to Charleston, Ill., for the 2010 ESPNU BracketBusters contest, as the ESPN Family of Networks announced on Feb. 1 that NIU will take on host Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 20, beginning at 6 p.m.

The Huskies 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.

The Northern Illinois men's basketball team is taking quick ownership of the weekly awards in the Mid-American Conference West Division. In January, 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. Silas has also been named the MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week twice.

Junior guard Xavier Silas enters Wednesday's contest averaging a Mid-American Conference best 19.5 points in his 17 games played this season. He has scored 20 or more points seven times this season, boasts a total of 14 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 (1/27/2010). Silas also paces the Huskies in free throw percentage (.787), making 141 trips to the charity stripe.

For the 2009-10 Northern Illinois basketball team, the month of January 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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton will be embarking on his 15th season as a Division I head coach in the 2009-10 campaign. After spending 12 years as the mentor at Colorado, Patton was hired as the Huskies' 26th head coach on March 19, 2007.



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