NIU to Host MAC Leading Toledo Wednesday

GO HUSKIES Sophomore guard Daveon Balls
GO HUSKIES
Sophomore guard Daveon Balls
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 25, 2014

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Northern Illinois Huskies (12-14, 6-8 MAC) vs. Toledo Rockets (23-4, 11-3 MAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 / 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. • NIUTube (NIUHuskies.com)
Live Video: NIUHuskies.com
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Toledo leads 42-23
Last Meeting: Jan. 22, 2014 • Toledo, 77-68

DID YOU KNOW?
Aaric Armstead is fourth in the MAC among freshmen in scoring (9.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (4.4 rpg) in conference play. Armstead is the only player that ranks in the top-five in both categories. In the last four games, Armstead is averaging 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
• In his last 10 games, Jordan Threloff is averaging 12.7 points per game, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 76.8 percent from the free-throw line. Threloff is also averaging 8.1 rebounds per game during that stretch.  
Darrell Bowie is averaging 11.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in the last five contests. Bowie has scored in double figures 12 times this season and has grabbed seven-or-more rebounds 16 times.
• NIU is ranked 36th nationally in rebounding margin (+5.1) and 44th in scoring defense (64.2 ppg).
Travon Baker ranks third in the MAC in steals in conference play (2.1 spg) and also ranks 14th in assists per game (2.6 apg).
Aksel Bolin has scored in double figures three times in his career against Toledo. Bolin is averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in his last four against the Rockets.
Pete Rakocevic is shooting 71.4 percent (15-of-21) from the field over the past nine games.
• The Huskies have won seven games this season by seven points or less, NIU won just one game by seven or fewer points all of last season.
• NIU’s 12 wins this season are more than double its total from the two previous years combined (10). The 12 wins are the most for a Huskie team since going 17-11 during the 2005-06 season.
Aksel Bolin has appeared 108 games during his NIU career, but saw his streak of 86 consecutive games snapped at Ball State due to illness. The NIU record for career games played in 117, by Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson (2002-06).
• The Huskies have won five road games this season, the most for the program since winning six in 2005-06.
• The Huskies have lost 53 man games due to injury this season, not including redshirts, and are currently dressing nine scholarship players.

ABOUT TOLEDO
• Toledo comes to DeKalb with a 23-4 overall record, 11-3 in Mid-American Conference play. The Rockets have won two-straight and five of their last six.
• The Rockets are the highest-scoring team in the MAC, and 16th in the country, averaging 81.0 points per game. Julius Brown leads Toledo at 15.0 points per game, Rian Pearson (14.1 ppg), Justin Drummond (13.9 ppg) and J.D. Weatherspoon (11.2 ppg) also score in double figures for the Rockets.
• Toledo is a perfect 13-0 at home this season and 10-4 away from home, 8-4 on the road and 2-0 in neutral site games.

THE LAST MEETING
• Toledo defeated NIU, 77-68, on Jan. 22, at Savage Arena. The Rockets shot 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field in the first meeting.
Travon Baker scored a career-high tying 17 points to lead four Huskies in double figures. Darrell Bowie added 16, Jordan Threloff netted 14 and Aaric Armstead chipped in 10 points.
• Four players scored in double figures for Toledo, led by 24 points and 11 rebounds for Justin Drummond.

THE ALL-TIME SERIES
• The Rockets lead the all-time series against NIU, 42-23. Toledo has won the last three meetings.
• NIU holds a 16-12 lead overall at home against Toledo; the Rockets won the last meeting in DeKalb, 69-64, on Feb. 2, 2013.

LAST TIME OUT
• NIU had two looks at threes to tie in the final 10 seconds, but neither fell as the Huskies were upended, 70-67, by Central Michigan on Sunday (Feb. 23) at McGuirk Arena.
Aaric Armstead scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Jordan Threloff fell just two points short of a double-double with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
• The Huskies shot 35 percent (7-of-20) in the first half and 50 percent (13-of-26) in the second half.
• NIU outrebounded Central Michigan, 37-22, including 13-6 on the offensive end, but Central Michigan had 14 second chance points to just four for NIU.

THE TURNAROUND
• Third-year head coach Mark Montgomery has NIU headed in the right direction, after two years of laying the foundation of his program; the fruits of that labor are starting to show. Consider the following…
• NIU’s 12 wins this season are more than double its total from the two previous years combined (10). The 12 wins are the most for a Huskie team since going 17-11 during the 2005-06 season.
• The seven-win improvement over last season’s five wins is already NIU’s ninth-best single season win improvement in school history. With two more wins, NIU would tie a school record for the biggest single-season turnaround in program history.
• NIU’s six conference wins are also the most for the Huskies since recorded 12 during the 2005-06 season.
• NIU currently has a RPI of 216; the Huskies have not finished with an RPI above 260 since the 2005-06 season.
• The Huskies currently rank 224 in the KenPom ratings. NIU has not finished a season above 230 since the 2006-07 campaign.  
• The Huskies have won five road games this season, the most for the program since winning six in 2005-06.
• The Huskies finished the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 6-6 record, marking the most non-conference wins for NIU since winning six in 1999-2000.
• NIU has had 67 double figure scoring games this season, NIU had just 46 such performances last year.
• The Huskies have had 40 seven-plus rebound performances this season, NIU had just 22 a year ago.  
• In NIU’s 88-63 victory over Central Michigan (Feb. 12), the Huskies recorded their largest margin of victory over a conference foe (25) since defeating Eastern Michigan 94-61 (33) on Feb. 26, 2006. NIU’s 88 points is the most for the program against a Division I opponent since defeating Chicago State 99-93 on Jan. 6, 2010.
• NIU had a three-game winning streak from Jan. 29-Feb. 4, winning at Kent State and Ball State along with a home win over Miami (Ohio). The three-game winning streak is NIU’s longest since winning six-straight in the 2009-10 season (Jan. 2, 2010-Jan. 20, 2010).
• NIU defeated Bowling Green, 45-36, to record its first victory at Bowling Green since 2006. The 36 points allowed by the Huskies were the fewest allowed by NIU since holding Akron to 30 in a 48-30 victory on Jan. 26, 1991.

A FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE
• Freshman Aaric Armstead has stepped into a starting role, and emerged as a MAC Freshman of the Year candidate, since Dontel Highsmith was lost for the season with a torn ACL against Iowa State (Dec. 31). In the last four games, Armstead is averaging 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
• Armstead ranks fourth among conference freshmen in scoring (9.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (4.4 rpg) during league play. Armstead is the only player that ranks in the top-five in both categories.
• Armstead is averaging 9.4 points per game during the current 15-game stretch since Highsmith’s injury. In the 11 games prior, Armstead has seen action in nine contests (missing two due to injury), averaging 3.1 points per game.
• Armstead has scored in double figures eight times in the last 15 games, including four-straight games. He shot 24.4 percent from the field in the first 11 games, but has increased that to 42.6 percent in the last 15 games.  
• Armstead has started each of the 15 games, playing 29.6 minutes per game. He had been playing 14.3 minutes per game prior to Highsmith’s injury.
• Armstead recorded what were then career highs for points (14), rebounds (8) and assists (3) while playing a career-high 39 minutes in an overtime, comeback victory at Ball State (Feb. 1). He reset his career scoring high with 17 points against Central Michigan (Feb. 12) and also tied his then-career high for rebounds in that contest.
• With 19 points at Central Michigan (Feb. 23), Armstead reset his career high in scoring for the third time in the last seven games.
• Armstead recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and a career-best 10 rebounds in a double overtime victory over Eastern Michigan (Feb. 20). Armstead played a team-high 44 minutes against the Eagles.