Northern Illinois Men's Basketball Opens Three-Game Home Stand, Hosts MAC West Leading Bowling Green On Wednesday

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES
Northern 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

Game Day Quick Facts:
Television:
None

Radio: The 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).

Coaches: 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.

Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green Probables

Northern Illinois Probable Starters

Pos No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
F 33 Johnathan Byrd 6-9 225 Sr. Chicago IL 6.0 3.5 0.3
F 32 Todd Peterson 6-8 225 Jr. Pekin, IL 10.8 4.1 1.1
G 22 Cory Sims 6-1 185 Jr. Livingston, AL 9.1 2.7 4.8
G 23 Mike McKinney 6-4 200 So. Evanston, IL 12.4 4.6 2.0
G 03 Anthony Maestranzi 5-10 165 Jr. Bartlett, IL 7.7 1.8 3.3
 
Bowling Green Probable Starters
Pos No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
F 2 Josh Almanson 6-8 243 Sr. Bowling Green, OH 18.0 5.4 1.1
F 14 John Reimold 6-6 240 Sr. Greenville, PA 18.0 5.0 1.9
C 50 Scott Vandermeer 6-11 245 Fr. Dyer, OH 1.9 1.7 0.1
G 10 John Floyd 6-2 185 So. Toledo, OH 7.4 2.2 5.6
G 32 Steven Wright 6-3 170 Jr. Dayton, OH 11.8 4.0 3.1

Quick-Hitters
l
Northern Illinois is in its 100th season of college basketball and will be playing its 1,981st contest this evening.
l Tonight’s 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 NIU’s 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 as well.
l Northern Illinois has played just five of its last 19 games at the Convocation Center and the Huskies haven’t 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 Paulsen’s 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 nation’s 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 their scholarships.
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 Center.
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 figures.
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 McKinney’s 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 out 126.
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 Peterson’s rebounding numbers are also on the rise, with the 6-foot-8 junior averaging 5.2 boards over the last 13 games.

Scouting Bowling Green
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 Saturday’s 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 MAC’s 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 season’s 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.

Super Soph’s 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 team’s 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 club’s 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 MAC’s top shot-blocker (45), Hughes has been one of the league’s 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 attempts.

Convocation 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 NIU’s 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 range.
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 land.
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.

McKinney 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 league’s 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 Miami’s Chet Mason (4) and Western Michigan’s Ben Reed (4) ... Three of McKinney’s 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 ... McKinney’s 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 team’s 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.

3-Pete Becoming Complete
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 Peterson’s 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.

Huskies Hanging 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 nation’s (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 times.

Sixth Man Sweetness: Hughes Savors Role As Team’s Super Sub
James Hughes has found his comfort zone coming off the pine ... Hughes opened the season as one of the MAC’s 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).

3-Pete: Peterson 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 team’s 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.

NIU Hoops, 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.

McKinney Boarding Like Crazy
There aren’t 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 Miami’s Chet Mason (7.4 rpg), and just ahead of Western Michigan’s 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.

James Hughes 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.

Happy Birthday: 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 year.

Ain’t 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.

Huskies Crash 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 nation’s 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 shots (4.4).

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.