Huskies Host Division Favorite Central Michigan Wednesday Night

GO HUSKIES Anderson is just the 15th player in NIU history to score 1,000 or more point before the end of his third season.
GO HUSKIES
Anderson is just the 15th player in NIU history to score 1,000 or more point before the end of his third season.
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 23, 2010

NIU (8-18, 4-9 MAC) VS. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (13-13, 7-6 MAC) » February 24, 2010 » Convocation Center » DeKalb, Ill. » 7 p.m. CST

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Tip-off: 7 p.m. CST
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (WLBK, 1360, [DeKalb])
Live Video: Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com (Gametracker)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Northern Illinois leads, 47-42/Lost8

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will jump back into Mid-American Conference West Division play Wednesday, when the Huskies take on visiting Central Michigan at the Convocation Center beginning at 7 p.m. CMU, the preseason MAC-West favorite, has recorded eight-straight wins over NIU.

NIU is coming off last Saturday's 73-70 loss at Eastern Illinois in the ESPNU BracketBusters game. After falling behind 69-62 with 3:55 remaining, the Huskies out-scored the Panthers 7-0 over the ensuing 3:08, erasing a deficit that had reached 12 points with just over six minutes left. The Huskies then had a chance to either tie or take the lead with 3.4 seconds remaining, after junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson was fouled while shooting a three-pointer from the left corner.

Anderson converted the third attempt, but missed the previous two, and EIU's Curry McKinney drilled two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to secure the three-point win.

Junior center Sean Kowal poured in 20 points, leading all scorers - he was joined in double figures by Xavier Silas (19 points), and Mike DiNunno, who scored 11 points, and dished out four assists against zero turnovers. NIU's primary ball handlers, Anderson, DiNunno and Bryan Hall, combined for 11 assists versus just one turnover in the setback.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will look to record a regular season sweep versus MAC-West foe Eastern Michigan on Saturday (Feb. 27), when the Huskies face the Eagles at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., at 1 p.m. CST. EMU (14-13, 6-7 MAC) has won three-of-four in MAC play, and is 9-3 at home this season.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois will look to snap an eight-game losing streak versus Central Michigan Wednesday, one that dates back to the 2006-07 campaign ... The Huskies and Chippewas met in a MAC-West showdown on Jan. 23 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., with CMU claiming an 81-75 win in a contest that featured a combined 27 ties and lead changes -- NIU came into the contest with a school-record 4-0 mark in league games, and was in sole possession of first place in the division ... Central Michigan was picked to win the MAC-West championship in the MAC's preseason media poll, while NIU was slotted second ... The Huskies have dropped their last five games by an average of just 5.1 points per contest -- NIU's largest margin of defeat during the stretch was a nine-point loss at Western Michigan (2/17/2010) ... The Huskies have either had the lead, or forced a tie in the final seven minutes in each of those five contests ... Junior guard Michael Patton, who has scored at least 100 points in each of his three seasons at NIU, enters Wednesday's contest with 395 career points, just five away from scoring 400 ... Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno, who cracked the top-20 of NIU's all-time steals list (73) with his two thefts at Eastern Illinois (2/20/2010), has 193 points on the season, seven tallies from becoming the fourth player this season to score 200 or more points ... Notably, sophomore forward Lee Fisher heads into the CMU game with 99 points this season (38 more than he scored all of last year), one point away from becoming the eighth player to score at least 100 points ... Junior center Sean Kowal pulled down his 300th career rebound Saturday at EIU ... Senior forward Najul Ervin is set to make his 80th career appearance Wednesday, while junior guard Jeremy Landers is scheduled to play in his 75th career game.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Record its first win over Central Michigan since Feb. 22, 2006, a span of nine meetings
» Improve to 5-3 versus MAC-West opponents this season
» Tie its Mid-American Conference win total from the 2008-09 season (5)

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Lose its 11th-consecutive game
» Drop its fifth-straight home contest
» Clinch its third-consecutive 10-loss season in MAC play

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Wednesday's game with an 8-18 overall record, 4-9 in the Mid-American Conference, and has dropped nine-straight league decisions. The Huskies are 5-7 at home this season, including Mid-American Conference West Division victories over Western Michigan (1/13/2010) and Eastern Michigan (1/16/2010).

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a MAC second-best 19.7 points per game, including 20.5 points per contest in conference play. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 10.5 points per game in MAC action, while junior center Sean Kowal, who leads the MAC in field goal percentage (.602), has added 10.4 points with a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per league game.

In conference play, the Huskies rank second in the league in assists per game (14.46) and offensive rebounds (12.77 rpg), and third overall in both blocks per game (3.77) and defensive rebounds (25.15 rpg).

At home, Northern Illinois is averaging 73.1 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 71.6 points per contest. Silas is scoring 23.3 points per game in nine home contests, while Anderson (12.8 ppg), Mike DiNunno (9.7) and Kowal (9.6) have helped carry a balanced scoring load.

SCOUTING THE CHIPPEWAS
Central Michigan enters Wednesday's game with a 13-13 record, and is 7-6 in MAC play. The Chippewas, who have lost four-of the last six games, are 4-10 on the road this season. CMU's last road win took place on Jan. 30 at Bowling Green.

The Chippewas are being led by senior guard Robbie Harman, who is averaging team-highs in both points (14.4 ppg) and assists (2.8 apg). Classmate Jordan Bitzer has added 14.3 points per contest, including a team-best 17.2 points per game in MAC play. Jalin Thomas is the Chippewas' top rebounder, with 5.3 rebounds per outing.

In MAC play, Central Michigan leads the league in three-point field goals made per game (8.15), and ranks in the top-five of five other statistical categories, including scoring defense (63.1 ppg), rebounding margin (+1.2) and offensive rebounds (11.85 rpg).

APPROACHING THE STRETCH RUN
The Northern Illinois men's basketball team enters Wednesday's game in sole possession of fifth-place in the Mid-American Conference West Division, four games ahead of sixth-place Toledo, and two games behind fourth-place Western Michigan Eastern Michigan. The Huskies will take on EMU in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Saturday afternoon.

First-round MAC Tournament games will be played on the higher seeds' campus sites this season, while the top four seeds will automatically receive byes into the quarterfinals, where play will begin at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Heading into tonight's slate of league games, NIU represents the No. 11 seed with three contests remaining. Central Michigan, tonight's opponent, sits alone in sixth place. Below is a summary of where teams currently rank in the MAC Tournament race.

1) #Kent State: 10-3 (@BGSU, MIA, @UA)
2) #Ball State: 8-5 (EMU, @UT, @WMU)
3) Akron: 10-3 (UB, @BGSU, KSU)
4) Buffalo: 8-5 (@UA, OHIO, @MIA)
5) Miami (Ohio): 8-5 (@OHIO, @KSU, UB)
6) Central Michigan: 7-6 (@NIU, WMU, @EMU)
7) Western Michigan: 6-7 (@UT, @CMU, BSU)
8) Bowling Green: 6-7 (KSU, UA, @OHIO)
9) Eastern Michigan: 6-7 (@BSU, NIU, CMU)
10) Ohio: 5-8 (MIA, @UB, BGSU)
11) Northern Illinois: 4-9 (CMU, @EMU, UT)
12) Toledo: 0-13 (WMU, BSU, @NIU)

# Current Division Leader

*Top four seeds receive byes to Cleveland. The top four seeds are the MAC Regular Season Champion (No. 1 seed), East/West Division Champion (No. 2 seed) and then the two next teams with the best record regardless of division. () Parentheses indicates NIU/opponents' remaining opponents in regular season MAC play.

BACK TO THE WILD, WILD WEST
Northern Illinois began the second-round of MAC-West divisional play with two-consecutive losses (versus Ball State on Feb. 13 and at Western Michigan on Feb. 17), after going 4-1 in the division to begin the MAC season, including a 4-0 start in league play for the first time in school history.

ELITE COMPANY
Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson swiped a season-high four steals at Eastern Illinois last Saturday, and in the process, secured himself an impressive place in the Huskie basketball annals. Anderson became the first player in program history to score at least 1,000 points, pull down 400 or more rebounds, dish out at least 200 assists and swipe 100 or more steals.

Sean Kowal and Michael Patton


SHARING THE WEALTH
Northern Illinois, one of the top rebounding teams in the Mid-American Conference, boasts four players that are averaging at least five rebounds per game during league play. Sean Kowal leads the Huskies with 6.2 rebounds per MAC game, followed by guards Darion "Jake" Anderson (5.5 rpg), Xavier Silas (5.4) and forward Lee Fisher (5.1).

HUSKIE BLOCK PARTY
Northern Illinois, which ranks third in the MAC in blocks per game during league contests (3.77), has three of the program's top-17 all-time shot blockers on its current roster. Sean Kowal's 45 blocks rank 14th all-time, while Michael Fakuade (41) and Najul Ervin (40) rank 16th and 17th all-time, respectively. Kowal has 15 blocks in MAC play, which is tied for seventh, while Fakuade's 23 terminations in 26 contests this season ranks 11th in the league.

AN EFFICIENT CLIP
Sean Kowal, who led the Mid-American Conference in field goal percentage as a sophomore, is well on his way to leading the league in the same category in his junior campaign. Kowal is shooting a MAC-best 60.2 percent from the field in league contests, and in all games, paces the MAC with a 56.1 shooting percentage. Kowal has scored in double figures 10 times this season, boasts a team-high tying two double-doubles, and has led the Huskies in rebounding on 10 occasions.

SILAS, STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
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 (19.7 ppg), eighth in free throw percentage (.799), seventh in three-point field goals made per game (2.10), and 16th in minutes played (31.05 mpg). In conference games, Silas has upped his scoring to a MAC second-best 20.5 points per game, ranks eighth in free throw percentage (.826), fifth in three-pointers per contest (2.23) and is tied for 15th in minutes played (32.23 mpg). He has scored 20 or more points nine times this season, boasts a total of 17 double digit scoring outputs, and has been the Huskies' leading scorer on 15 occasions.

MOVING UP THE CHARTS
Darion "Jake" Anderson, just the 15th player in NIU history to score at least 1,000 points before the end of his third season, continues to move up the individual record book charts at NIU, ranking in the top-20 all-time in points (1,105; 20th), field goals attempted (904; 19th), three-point field goals (79; 20th), three-point field goals attempted (274; 17th), free throws made (286; 7th), free throws attempted (408; 9th), assists (234; 12th), steals (101; 9th), games started (71; t-15th) and minutes per game (29.9; 9th). Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points, rebounds (457), assists, steals, field goals, three-point field goals and free throws made, and total minutes played (2,478).

POINT `N SHOOT
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 5-2 when shooting 35 percent or better from three-point range this season.

HUSKIES PICKED SECOND IN MAC-WEST
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.