NIU to Host Seattle in ESPNU BracketBusters

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

Feb. 18, 2011

Notes: Game 25 vs. Seattle University Get Acrobat Reader

NIU (7-17, 3-9) vs. Seattle (9-16)
Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 | 3 p.m. CT
DeKalb, Ill. | NIU Convocation Center | 9,100

NIU Radio Availability
WLBK  | 1360 AM | DeKalb
WSCR  | 670 AM | Chicago

Alumni Day Among Special Events Set for Saturday
NIU will host its annual Alumni Day festivities on Saturday prior to NIU's home game against Seattle University. The alumni game will be played at 12:30 p.m. In addition on Saturday, NIU will be honoring Huskie great Billy Harris while also hosting American Red Cross Day/Blood Drive and "Take a Kid to the Game Day." Gates for the alumni game will open at noon, a ticket for the men's basketball game is required for entrance.

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois takes a break from Mid-American Conference play as it hosts Seattle University as part of the ESPNU BracketBusters on Saturday afternoon at the NIU Convocation Center. Last time out the Huskies fell, 77-65, to Western Michigan; Nate Rucker led NIU with 11 points and DeMarcus Grady added a career-best 10 points. Northern Illinois has an overall record of 7-17, 3-9 in conference play. Xavier Silas comes into the weekend averaging 23.5 points per game, sixth-best in the nation. Saturday's contest will be the first-ever meeting between the Huskies and the Redhawks. 

About Seattle University
Seattle is 9-16 overall, competing as an independent. The Redhawks are in their third season back as a NCAA Division I school after leaving NCAA Division I in 1980. Seattle competed at the NAIA level from 1980-2002 and as a NCAA Division II institution from 2002-09. Seattle dropped an 88-78 decision to UC Davis in its last game on Tuesday night. Aaron Broussard leads the way for the Redhawks averaging 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Against the Redhawks
Northern Illinois and Seattle will be meeting for the first time.

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. 

Grady Nets Career High
DeMarcus Grady recorded his first double figure scoring game in his ninth appearance with the Huskie basketball squad against Western Michigan (Feb. 15). Grady, who joined the team following the conclusion of the NIU football season, scored 10 points in nine minutes of action against the Broncos.

Patton, Landers Reach the Century Mark
Michael Patton played in his 100th career game at Miami (Feb. 9), getting the start in place of an injured Bryan Hall, the 18th start of his career. Patton scored a season-best nine points in the game against the RedHawks. Jeremy Landers reached the mark one game later against Kent State (Feb. 12), making the start while scoring 12 points. Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson (2002-06) hold the NIU career record for games played at 117. 

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 23.5 points per game, fifth-best in the nation 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 43 times in 49 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 563 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 games since Jan. 22. Christian began by scoring 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 set his current career-best with 17 points at Ohio (Feb. 5). Two games later against Kent State (Feb. 12), Christian tied his career high with six rebounds and set a new career-best with five assists.

Silas Nets Scoring Milestone
Xavier Silas became the 29th player in NIU history to score 1,000 career points when he reached the milestone against Ohio (Feb. 5). Silas became just the third Huskie, joining Jim Bradley (1971-73, 1,134 points) and Kenny Battle (1984-86, 1,072 points), to reach the mark in just two seasons. Silas currently has 1,049 points in his NIU career, 27th-most in school history.

Hitting the Glass
Averaging 26.0 defensive rebounds per game, NIU has the best defensive rebounding team in the MAC during conference play. Tim Toler and Xavier Silas both rank in the top-10 in defensive boards in conference, Toler is seventh averaging 5.18 per game and Silas is 10th at 4.42 per contest. 

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 had back-to-back double-doubles with Rucker posting 10 points and 10 boards against Bowling Green (Feb. 2).

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). leads NIU in field goal percentage, shooting 50.8 percent. 

MAC Honors Times Five for Silas
Xavier Silas earned his fifth Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor on Jan. 31  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.

Toler Dials Long Distance
Tim Toler has made 27 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 21-of-43 from three. Toler is third in three-point percentage in conference play and 14th in triples made.

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 a team, fifth-best in the MAC. Silas is shooting 84.9 percent individually, second-best in the conference. 

Hall Guides the Ship
Junior Bryan Hall has taken the reigns as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling. Hall is averaging 2.95 assists per game, 12th-best in the Mid-American Conference. He has dished out 3.30 assists per game since the beginning of conference play. After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall leads NIU with 65 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.

Working Overtime
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.

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 17 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 12, 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.

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.

On Target
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 46.5 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 41.9 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.

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.

Landers has recorded three more double-digit scoring games since that stretch, giving him eight on the season and 12 in his career.  

Three's Company
In nine of 12 conference games this season, the Huskies have had at least three players score in double figures. Xavier Silas has been in double figures in 11 games and leads the MAC in scoring at 22.9 points per conference game; Tim Toler and Nate Rucker are second in that category, reaching double figures on seven occasions. Jeremy Landers has four times, Antone Christian has twice and Tyler Storm and DeMarcus Grady have each hit double-digits once during conference play. NIU had three players score in double figures in six of its 12 non-conference games.

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.

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.

Streak Stopped
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. 

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.
 
Newest Huskies
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. 

Challenging Slate
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.

Looking Ahead
Northern Illinois will return to conference play on Wednesday, Feb. 23, when the Huskies conclude their four-game homestand by hosting Central Michigan. Game time against the Chippewas is scheduled for 7 p.m.