Illinois (9-15, 5-10 MAC) vs. Bowling Green (16-7, 9-5 MAC)
7:05 p.m. (CST) l Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Convocation Center (9,100) l DeKalb, IL
Huskie Sports Radio Network with Bill Baker and Sid Simmons airs
on 1360-AM WLBK (DeKalb), 1060-AM WRHL (Rochelle), 95.7-FM WSEY
(Rockford, Freeport, Sterling, Dixon) and 102.9 FM (LaSalle-Peru).
Rob Judson (Illinois 80) is 48-65 in his fourth season at
Northern Illinois. Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich is 132-97
in his eighth season with the Falcons.
Illinois vs. Bowling Green Probables
Illinois Probable Starters
Green Probable Starters
l Northern Illinois is in its 100th season of college basketball
and will be playing its 1,981st contest this evening.
l Tonights game is the 46th all-time meeting between
the two schools with Bowling Green owning a slight 23-22 record
in the series.
l The Falcons have also won four consecutive in DeKalb, with
NIUs last home win in the series coming Feb. 19, 1986, by
a 67-65 margin.
l NIU has won four of its last five home games, including
three consecutive. The Convocation Center record for consecutive
wins is six set during the first-six games of the 2003-04 campaign.
l NIU can win its fifth consecutive MAC home game for the
first time since the 1985-86 season with a win tonight.
l Due to their terrific play at home, NIU is in position
to enjoy its second highest MAC win total since that 1985-86 season
l Northern Illinois has played just five of its last 19 games
at the Convocation Center and the Huskies havent played back-to-back
home games since Dec. 1 (Bradley) and Dec. 4 (Akron).
l No team in the MAC has played fewer home games during that
stretch than NIU.
l Northern Illinois has had 15-of-24 games decided by 10
points or less this season, which include a pair of overtime losses
to Bradley (76-74) and Wright State (72-66).
l Northern Illinois bench continues to shrink. Versatile
sophomore forward Paige Paulsen is out for the season due to lingering
effects from a concussion suffered Feb. 6 at Kent State and will
follow up with a specialist on Thursday to determine his availability
for the rest of the season. Because of Paulsens injury, the
Huskies are down to eight players, including sophomore center Bryson
McKenzie, who averages just 3.4 minutes a game due to his rehabilitation
from offseason knee surgery.
l Of Northern Illinois 15 losses, 12 have come by 11
points or less and the Huskies have either held a second-half lead
or been within two possessions in the final eight minutes in 12
of those 15 games.
l NIU ranks No. 2 in the MAC and No. 31 nationally in three-point
field goal percentage at 38.8 percent. The Huskies have also hit
eight or more treys in 9 of their last 17 contests including in
5-of-6 home games.
l The Huskies continue to be one of the nations top
free throw shooting teams as well. NIU ranks second in the MAC and
No. 28 nationally with 73.8 percent shooting from the stripe.
l NIU has eight players averaging more than 5.2 points per
game, which is the most in the Mid-American Conference. Toledo and
Kent State are second with seven.
l Because of redshirts and injuries, NIU has just eight game-ready
players, meaning the Huskies are able to use just 61.5 percent of
l NIU held Central Michigan to 46 points in their last home
game, the lowest point total in the three-year history of the Convocation
l Over its last 16 games, Northern Illinois is shooting 46.5
percent from the floor.
l Northern Illinois has had eight different players lead
the team in scoring this season. Mike McKinney (nine), Todd Peterson
(five), Anthony Maestranzi (three), Paige Paulsen (two), Cory Sims
(two), Johnathan Byrd (one), James Hughes (one) and Zach Pancratz
(one) have all paced NIU in point production this season.
l NIU is 7-1 when both Mike McKinney and Todd Peterson score
in double figures.
l NIU is 5-2 when Cory Sims has at least six assists.
l Mike McKinney (12.4 ppg.) could become the first Huskie
sophomore to lead the team in scoring since Stacy Arrington. Arrington
averaged 18.1 points during the 1988-89 campaign. He is also the
first Huskie sophomore to average at least 12.4 points since Leon
Rodgers (14.8) during the 1999-2000 campaign.
l The Evanston, IL, native has reached that 12.4 ppg. scoring
average thanks to a career best six consecutive games in double
l Over the last 14 games, McKinney is shooting 56.5 percent
from the field (70-of-124) and has made 39-of-52 (75.0) percent
from the foul line.
l In MAC games only McKinney ranks second in the league with
a 54.7 field goal percentage.
l Over the past nine games, McKinney is averaging 14.9 points,
which includes 22-point games vs. Marshall (Feb. 3) and Eastern
Michigan (Feb. 16) and a 19-point explosion at Buffalo (Jan. 25).
He is also averaging 7.0 rebounds during the run as well, which
includes three double-doubles.
l McKinney is now tied for the MAC lead among guards (Chet
Mason of Miami and Ben Reed of Western Michigan) with four double-doubles
following an 11-point and career-high 11-board performance at Wright
State. The 6-foot-4 guard is the first Huskie to enjoy back-to-back
double-doubles since Marcus Smallwood during the 2003-04 season
vs. Central Michigan (March 1) and Western Michigan (March 6).
l McKinneys career high 22-point performances vs. Marshall
(Feb. 3) and Eastern Michigan made him just the second Huskie to
top the 20-point plateau this season. Todd Peterson has also topped
20 points twice this year.
l Cory Sims quarter-court buzzer-beater vs. Marshall
on Feb. 3 made the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 list. The shot gave
NIU a 32-30 lead at the break and propelled NIU to the 77-66 win.
l The junior also dished out four more assists at Wright
State (Feb. 19) to push his season total to 116, the fourth highest
single-season assist total in school history.
l Sims assist per game average of 4.84 is the second
highest in school history to the 5.6 dished out by Jay Bryant during
the 1979-80 campaign.
l Sims needs 11 more assists (127) to move into third on
the career dimes chart, passing Rodney Davis (1987-88) who dished
l With 195 assists, Sims (116) and Anthony Maestranzi (79)
are the fourth most prolific assist duo in school history and need
just five more dimes to become the third tandem in school history
to combine for 200 assists in a single season. The last 200-assist
tandem at NIU was Ronald Minter (133) and Vaurice Patterson (87)
during the 1995-96 campaign.
l Sims has also picked up the scoring pace as well recently,
and is averaging 12.4 points over the last eight games, with five
double-figure scoring efforts.
l Sophomore center James Hughes needs just two more blocks
to reach 100 for his career. Only five other Huskies have more than
100 career blocked shots.
l Hughes has been on a shot-blocking tear over the last month
to fuel his chase for the century mark, with the 6-foot-11 sophomore
blocking 29 shots over the last 15 games. Only two other MAC players
(Romeo Travis of Akron and Mark Bortz of Buffalo) have more than
29 blocks all season. Hughes (45) also has more blocked shots this
season than Western Michigan (43) and Kent State (41).
l Freshman Zach Pancratz has quietly played steady basketball
over the last 10 games. Although his scoring average has held steady,
the guard has dished out 15 assists compared to 12 turnovers. The
rookie is also averaging 2.8 rebounds during the run.
l Todd Peterson is averaging 12.1 points over his last 17
games (all starts) and is shooting 46.3 percent (44-of-95) from
three-point range during that stretch. Subsequently, the Pekin,
IL, native ranks No. 16 nationally with 46.0 percent three-point
shooting on the year.
l Peterson now ranks third in school history with 172 treys
and has averaged 2.0 three-pointers per game over his career.
l Petersons rebounding numbers are also on the rise,
with the 6-foot-8 junior averaging 5.2 boards over the last 13 games.
Bowling Green has leaped into first place in the MAC West Division
after winning four of its last five games, including a 74-66 win
over Arkansas-Little Rock in the ESPN Bracket Buster ... The Falcons
continue to be lead by the outstanding senior duo of John Reimold
and Josh Almanson, who rank among MAC leaders with an 18.0 ppg.
scoring average ... In Saturdays win over UALR, Reimold scored
a game high 29 points thanks to 12-of-12 shooting from the foul
line, while Almanson, one of the MACs top post players, hit
10-of-16 shots including 3-of-5 from three-point range ... Bowling
Green continues to lead the MAC in field goal percentage (.497),
paced by Almanson who leads league individuals at 61.3 percent.
The Series With The Falcons
The most hotly-contested Mid-American Conference series for the
Huskies, Bowling Green owns a slight 23-22 all-time series lead
in 45 career meetings, which includes three consecutive wins dating
back to last seasons two-game series sweep ... Bowling Green
also earned a 78-67 win over NIU on Jan. 9, despite a career high
18 points from sophomore James Hughes ... Although Bowling Green
has won both meetings in the Convocation Center and four consecutive
on the road in the series, NIU still owns an 11-7 mark in games
played in DeKalb, with the last home win coming Feb. 19, 1986, by
a 67-65 margin.
McKinney, Hughes Powering Short-Handed Huskies
With just eight players available, head coach Rob Judson has
begun the youth movement at NIU and sophomores Mike McKinney and
James Hughes are leading the charge ... The teams leading
scorer at 12.4 points per game, McKinney has reached double figures
a career high six consecutive games including career-high tying
totals of 22 points in a Feb. 2 win over Marshall (Feb. 3) and 22
more at Eastern Michigan (Feb. 16) ... The 6-foot-4 guard has also
taken the reins as the clubs top rebounder as well and is
tied for the MAC lead among guards with four double-doubles, including
two consecutive vs. EMU and in the Bracket Buster event at Wright
State (Feb. 19) where he set a career high with 11 caroms, in addition
to scoring 11 points ... Over his last eight games, the Evanston,
IL, native is averaging 7.9 boards, which pushed his season average
to a career high 6.0, second among MAC guards ... Hughes has reached
double figures a career best four consecutive times, including a
career-high tying 18 tallies at Wright State on 7-of-12 shooting
... Also the MACs top shot-blocker (45), Hughes has been one
of the leagues most efficient shooters over the past 13 games,
shooting 63.3 percent (62-of-98) from the floor to reach double
figures six times during the stretch ... Over the past 13, Hughes
is averaging 10.5 points ... Over his last four games, Hughes is
averaging 13.8 points while hitting 67.6 percent of his field goal
Center Beginning to Feel Like Home
After an 0-2 start to their 11-game home schedule, the Convocation
Center is beginning to feel like home for the Huskies ... Now 5-1
in their last six home games (all MAC contests), NIU is shooting
49.0 percent from the floor and an amazing 50.6 percent from three-point
range to push its overall home record to 5-3 ... Mike McKinney and
Todd Peterson have paced NIUs offensive production during
the stretch, which has seen the Huskies average 74.4 points and
36.2 rebounds within their friendly confines.
l In his last five home games, McKinney is averaging 15.8
points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists.
l Over the last six home games, Peterson is averaging 14.8
points and is shooting 60.0 percent (21-of-35) from three-point
l Over his last five home games, the 6-foot-8 junior is producing
15.6 points and is shooting 64.2 percent (18-of-28) from three-point
l Freshman Zach Pancratz has also been more comfortable at
home, shooting 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from bonus distance over the
last six home tilts.
Becoming Northern Illinois Double-Double Guru
Mike McKinney is finding a new niche ... Outside of his highlight
reel alley-oops slams, the 6-foot-4 sophomore guard is becoming
one of the leagues top double-double threats ... The Evanston
native recorded his third and fourth double dips of the year last
week, which included a career high 22 points at Eastern Michigan
and a career high 11 boards at Wright State (Feb. 19) ... The Evanston,
IL, native now ranks first among MAC guards with four double-doubles,
tying Miamis Chet Mason (4) and Western Michigans Ben
Reed (4) ... Three of McKinneys double-doubles have come during
MAC play, including both contests with the Eagles after a 14-point,
10-rebound performance in an 87-74 win over EMU on Jan. 22 and the
22-point, 10-board effort at EMU on Feb. 16 ... McKinney now ranks
7th in the MAC in double-doubles ... McKinneys first double-double
came in a near upset of defending MAC Champion Western Michigan
on Jan. 2 ... The sophomore enjoyed a then-career high 19 points
to go with the 10 rebounds in the 72-69 defeat on Jan. 2 ... The
teams top rebounder (6.0), McKinney became the first Huskie
guard with a point-rebound double-double since Stephen Jones, who
scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards on Feb. 2, 2001, against
Central Michigan in an 81-74 overtime loss in DeKalb.
Known as a three-point specialist throughout his first two seasons,
Todd Peterson has adjusted his offensive game and now plays from
the inside-out ... Over his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Peterson
made just 23 two-point buckets, allowing opponents to gameplan around
the trey ... Consequently, Peterson shot 39.2 percent from three
... This season, Peterson has already made 31 two-pointers to not
only force the opposition respect his more complete game, but lag
off just enough in case he goes to the hoop ... The result has been
46.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc, a statistic that not
only ranks fourth in the MAC and ranks No. 16 nationally, but is
the second highest three-point percentage in school history ...
One final example of Petersons complete game has been his
increased free throw production ... Peterson has already shot 29
free throws this season after shooting a combined 28 his first two
years in DeKalb.
Tough In The Paint
Labeled as a three-point shooting team, the Huskies are working
hard to dispel those perimeter-oriented myths ... Despite being
one of the nations (No. 34 nationally) top three-point shooting
squads (.388) and ranking among league-leaders in overall field
goal percentage (.454), NIU has done its job on the interior as
well, outscoring its MAC foes 448-416 over 15 conference games,
an average 29.8 to 27.7 (2.1 margin) ... While post players James
Hughes and Johnathan Byrd combine for 15.3 points per game, the
Huskies are also getting paint points through the slashing abilities
of Mike McKinney (12.4) and Cory Sims (9.1) ... Through 15 conference
games, the Huskies have outscored their opponents in the paint nine
Sweetness: Hughes Savors Role As Teams Super Sub
James Hughes has found his comfort zone coming off the pine
... Hughes opened the season as one of the MACs top reserves
before earning eight consecutive starts following a then-career
high 18-point effort in the initial matchup with Bowling Green (Jan.
9) ... Since returning to his reserve role over the past four games,
Hughes has been dominant in the paint, averaging 13.8 points on
67.6 percent shooting (23-of-34) while grabbing 6.3 rebounds ...
The 6-foot-11 center has reached double figures in all-four outings,
including a career-high tying 18 points in the Bracket Buster match-up
at Wright State ... Hughes played a career high 33 minutes in the
game and hit 7-of-12 FG attempts and made the game-tying free throw
with just :16 seconds remaining to send the contest into overtime
... Over his last two games, Hughes is averaging 16.0 points on
70 percent shooting from the floor (14-of-20).
On Fire From Three-Point Range
Junior forward Todd Peterson continues to be a match-up nightmare
because of his size and shooting prowess ... Among the teams
tallest players at 6-foot-8, Peterson is quickly moving up Northern
Illinois career three-point shooting chart thanks to his 58-of-126
(.460) start from beyond the arc this season ... After opening the
year 0-of-3 from three-point range vs. Loyola (Nov. 20) and Southwest
Missouri State (Nov. 24), Peterson has hit at least one trey in
21-of-22 games and has hit 58-of-123 treys (.471) over that stretch
... Since moving into the starting lineup vs. St. Bonaventure (Dec.
28), Peterson is averaging 12.1 points and is converting on 46.3
percent of his treys (44-of-95) ... The Pekin native has hit three
or more 3-pointers 12 times this season with nine of those outings
coming in the last 20 games ... Peterson also tied a career high
with six three-pointers vs. Eastern Michigan (Jan. 22) en route
to a career high 31 points ... Over his last 12 games, Peterson
has made 35-of-73 three-pointers (.480) and now ranks third in school
history with 171 career triples.
College of Business Donates $13,000 To I.M.F.R.F.
NIU basketball, along with the Northern Illinois College of
Business, presented the Illinois Military Relief Fund with a $13,000
gift at halftime of the Huskies 87-74 win over Eastern Michigan
... NIU hoops raised the funds through the Hoops 4 Troops campaign,
which included the selling of red silicone bracelets to students,
fans and the general public for $1 ... The campaign has sold 3,000
bracelets thus far and will continue at home games throughout the
season ... The campaign was also bolstered by an anonymous pledge
of $10,000 from a Northern Illinois alum.
Boarding Like Crazy
There arent many better rebounding guards than Mike McKinney
... With 6.0 boards per game, the 6-foot-4 sophomore is not only
the team leader, but ranks second in the MAC among guards, behind
Miamis Chet Mason (7.4 rpg), and just ahead of Western Michigans
Ben Reed (5.9 rpg) ... Overall, McKinney ranks 10th in the MAC regardless
of position and fifth with 2.38 offensive boards per game ... McKinney
also leads the Huskies with four point-rebound double-doubles, including
a 22-point, 10-rebound effort at Eastern Michigan (Feb. 16), which
was his second vs. the Eagles this season and a 11-point, 11-board
effort at Wright State in the ESPN Bracket Buster.
Begins His Defensive Player Of The Year Campaign
With 29 blocks over his last 15 games, sophomore center James
Hughes has become a front-runner for MAC Defensive Player of the
Year accolades ... Only two MAC players (Mark Bortz of Buffalo and
Romeo Travis of Akron) have more blocked shots all season than Hughes
29 over the past month and Hughes 45 swats are more than Western
Michigan (43) and Kent State (41) have as a team ... Overall, Hughes
leads the MAC and ranks No. 49 nationally with 45 swats, 10 more
than his next nearest competitor, Travis of Akron ... Hughes has
blocked at least one shot in 20-of-24 games this year and has multiple
blocks on 13 occasions, including games vs Bradley (4), Akron (3),
Eastern Illinois (3), Western Michigan (3), Bowling Green (3), Ohio
(4), at Central Michigan (4), at Western Michigan (3) and at home
vs. Central Michigan (3) ... Despite playing just over one full
season, Hughes already ranks third among active MAC shot blockers
and is sixth in school history with 98 career rejections.
Peterson Pours In Career High 31 On 21st B-Day
Todd Peterson celebrated his 21st birthday with a career high
31 points on 9-of-12 shooting against Eastern Michigan on Jan. 22
... In addition to being a career high, the 31 points were the most
for a Huskie since P.J. Smith scored 33 against Western Michigan
in the quarterfinals of the 2003 MAC Tournament on March 13, 2003,
in Gund Arena in Cleveland, OH ... In addition to setting a career
high in points, Peterson tied a career high with 6-of-9 shooting
from three-point range, including 5-of-6 shooting in the second
half ... The 31 points are the fifth highest total in the MAC this
No Margin High Enough
These Huskies never say die ... Northern Illinois has trailed
by nine points or more in the second half six times this season
only to regroup and either tie or grab a lead down the stretch ...
The largest second-half deficit overcome by NIU this year was 13
points at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29), when the Huskies
snared a 73-67 win after trailing 43-30 early in the second half
... The Huskies also trailed by 13, 41-28, at Western Michigan (Jan.
19) and used a 20-6 run to claim a 48-47 lead ... Another MAC comeback
occurred at Miami where the Huskies trailed by eight, 51-43 in the
final eight minutes before gaining a 54-53 lead with 1:43 remaining
... NIU also trailed by as many as nine (45-36) to Southwest Missouri
State before tying the game at 63-63 with just :15 seconds remaining
... Most recently, the Huskies trailed by eight points at Wright
State (57-49) in the final 7:12, but closed regulation with a 10-2
run to force overtime.
NCAA Statistical Rankings
Not only do the Huskies rank among MAC leaders in three-point
shooting, free throw shooting and blocked shots, but they are among
the nations best in each statistical category as well ...
Individually, Todd Peterson ranks 16th in the NCAA with a 46.0 three-point
field goal percentage, while James Hughes is 49th in blocked shots
(1.9) ... As a team, NIU ranks 31st in three-point FG percentage
(46.0), 26th in free throw percentage (73.8) and 54th in blocked
Hughes Picking Up Offensive Consistency Down The Stretch
An 18-point effort at Bowling Green (Jan. 9) has sent sophomore
center James Hughes on an offensive tear over the last 13 games
... Third on the team with an 9.3 ppg. scoring average, Hughes is
averaging 10.5 points over the last 13, which includes seven double
figure scoring games including four consecutive vs. Central Michigan
(11), at Toledo (12), at Eastern Michigan (14) and at Wright State
(18) ... Against Western Michigan (Jan. 19), Hughes scored 12 points
on 6-of-7 shooting, including 5-of-5 shooting in the second half,
to help the Huskies nearly upset the MAC West Division leaders ranked
team ... Hughes repeated the performance with 12 points and a career
high nine boards in the first meeting with Eastern Michigan in the
87-74 win, before torching EMU for 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting
in the rematch ... During this 13-game stretch, Hughes is shooting
63.2 percent from the floor and has hit 62-of-98 shots, which includes
a 9-of-12 effort at BGSU ... One notable reason for Hughes
increase in point production is playing time ... The Silvis, IL,
native is averaging 21.9 minutes over the past 13 games, including
a career high 33 minutes at Wright State.