Huskies Return Home Wednesday to Host Ball State

GO HUSKIES Sophomore forward Keith Gray
GO HUSKIES
Sophomore forward Keith Gray
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 12, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (5-17, 3-7 MAC) vs. Ball State Cardinals (9-13, 3-7 MAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 / 7 p.m.
Site: NIU Convocation Center • DeKalb, Ill.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Ball State leads 46-32
Last Meeting: March 3, 2012 • BSU 62-51

WHAT’S TRENDING
• NIU shot 61.1 percent in the first half at Buffalo, its best first half of the season and second-best half of the season (63.2 percent in second half at Miami).
• Ball State is the only MAC opponent the Huskies have not yet played. NIU will finish the regular season at Ball State for the third-straight season.
Abdel Nader is averaging 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds over the last four games. Nader has two double-doubles during that span and fell just two rebounds shy of a third.  
Keith Gray is shooting 57.1 percent from the field in the last four games.
J.J. Cravatta is averaging 5.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game over the past eight contests, playing an average of 15.8 minutes per game. Prior to that time, Cravatta was averaging just 1.5 points per contest.
Daveon Balls has a 1.7 assist/turnover ratio over the last seven games.
• With its victory over Kent State, NIU recorded multiple wins against the MAC East Division for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Darrell Bowie is averaging 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game during conference play. Bowie ranks sixth in scoring among conference freshmen in league play and sixth in rebounding. Bowie entered league play averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 12-of-15 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 53-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

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 eight more points per game in the second half that the first half while shooting over seven percent better from the field, six percent better from three and over four percent better from the free-throw line.
• In the opening 20 minutes this season, NIU is averaging 23.8 points while shooting 32.7 percent from the field, 24.6 percent from three and 64 percent from the free-throw line.
• The Huskies have 87 first half assists and 182 first half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is NIU’s leading scorer in the first half of games this season, each averaging 5.0 points.
• In the second half this year, NIU is averaging 31.9 points while shooting 39.9 percent from the field, 30.3 percent from three and 68.3 percent from the free-throw line.
• NIU has 104 second half assists and 149 second half turnovers.
Abdel Nader is also NIU’s leading second half scorer at 9.3 points.
• The Huskies flipped the script a bit last time out against Buffalo, shooting 61.1 percent in the first half.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 56.1 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 26.5 percent of the minutes (a total of 82.6 percent by underclassmen).
• The team leading at halftime has won all 21 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 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 ninth in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.5 steals per game.
Abdel Nader is ninth in scoring in conference games at 13.9 points per contest and 12th in rebounding at 6.1 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 (6.6 ppg) and ranks sixth in rebounding among conference rookies in league play (3.3 rpg).  
• NIU leads the MAC in offensive rebounds, grabbing 13.0 per contest. The Huskies are second in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.8 percent and first in defensive rebounding percentage in conference at 71.6 percent.  

LIVING AT THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 230 free throws during conference play, an average of 23.0 per contest.
• In contrast, the Huskies shot 179 free throws in non-conference action, an average of 14.9 trips per game.
Darrell Bowie (43) 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 BALL STATE
• Ball State comes to DeKalb with a 9-13 overall record, 3-7 in Mid-American Conference play. The Cardinals earned a 65-62 home victory over Western Michigan last time out but have won just two of their last nine games.
• Jauwan Scaife leads the Cardinals in scoring at 14.0 points per contest.
• Majok Majok is the leading rebounder in the conference at 10.0 boards per contest; Majok also averages 11.8 points per game.
• The Cardinals are outrebounding their opponents by 3.2 boards per contest.  

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Ball State leads the all-time series with Northern Illinois, 46-32.
• The Cardinals have won five-straight in the season, dating back to a 62-48 NIU victory in Muncie on Jan. 9, 2010.
• NIU holds a 22-16 edge in games played in DeKalb. Ball State has won the last three meetings at NIU, with the last Huskie win coming on Feb. 28, 2009 (56-55).

BUFFALO RECAP
• Northern Illinois fell at Buffalo, 59-54, this past Saturday. The Huskies haven’t won in Buffalo since 2003.
• The Huskies had a chance to tie with 14 seconds left but saw a 3-pointer rim out.
• NIU shot 61.1 percent (11-of-18) from the field in the first half.
Abdel Nader led the Huskies with 13 points, Nader played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble.
Daveon Balls led NIU with seven rebounds, one shy of his career high. Balls also had a team-best four assists.
• NIU shot 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the free-throw line, but attempted 11 less free throws than Buffalo.
• The Huskie bench outscored that of Buffalo, 21-4.

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.

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.


 

 

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