Huskies Take on Eastern Michigan in Final MAC Road Test Saturday

GO HUSKIES Kowal is making a strong push for the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year honor.
GO HUSKIES
Kowal is making a strong push for the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year honor.
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 26, 2010

NIU (9-18, 5-9 MAC) AT EASTERN MICHIGAN (15-13, 7-7 MAC) » February 27, 2010 » Convocation Center » Ypsilanti, Mich. » 1 p.m. CST

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Tip-off: 1 p.m. CST
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (WLBK, 1360, [DeKalb]/670 WSCR [Chicago])
Live Video: Sidearm Sports, via EMUEagles.com (Subscription required)
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com/EMUEagles.com: CLICK HERE
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Northern Illinois leads, 46-27/Won 1

Game Notes as Downloadable PDF Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will play its final Mid-American Conference road game of the season Saturday, when the Huskies take on upstart Eastern Michigan at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., beginning at 1 p.m. CST. The Huskies will be looking to complete the regular season sweep over EMU.

NIU is coming off Wednesday's 67-65, come-from-behind win over visiting Central Michigan. In a tie game, junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson came off a ball screen, drove right, and converted a go-ahead lay-up with 0.1 seconds remaining, lifting the Huskies to their fifth MAC-West victory.

Anderson scored a game and season-high tying 23 points, going 10-for-17 from the field. Junior guard Xavier Silas scored 17 points, while junior center Sean Kowal posted his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. CMU was led by leading scorers Jordan Bitzer (20 points) and Robbie Harman (19), who combined for 39 points, including 30 in the first half.

The win broke an eight-game losing streak to Central Michigan that dated back to the 2006-07 season, as NIU erased an 18-point second-half deficit, its largest overcome to win a game this season. The Huskies out-scored the Chippewas 36-16 in the paint, and recorded a decisive 34-21 rebounding advantage.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will look to sweep Toledo for the first time since the 2002-03 season next Wednesday (March 4), when the Huskies host the Rockets at the Convocation Center at 7 p.m. NIU will be celebrating "Senior Day," honoring Ante Dzepina and Najul Ervin.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois be looking to record its first win over EMU in Ypsilanti since Jan. 29, 2006 ... The Huskies won their fifth-straight, and improved to 3-0 in MAC play, when they defeated the Eagles (77-69) on Jan. 16 at the Convocation Center in DeKalb ... Five of NIU's last six games have been decided by five or less points, including Wednesday's 67-65 win over visiting Central Michigan ... The Huskies are 2-4 in contests decided by five points or less this season ... Northern Illinois has either owned the lead, or forced a tie in the final seven minutes, in each of the last six games ... Four of those contests were either tied, or saw NIU hold at least a one-point lead in the last three minutes ... With his game-high 23 points versus the Chippewas (2/24/2010), junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson, (who scored his 1,000th career point against EMU in the first meeting), passed George Bork (1960-63) for 19th on the all-time scoring list at NIU ... Anderson's 1,128 career points leaves him just six tallies short of tying Jim Bradley (1,134) for 18th all-time ... EMU's Justin Dobbins (.623) and Northern Illinois junior center Sean Kowal (.563) are the MAC's respective No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in individual field goal percentage ... Kowal, who is averaging 16.3 points over the last three games, did not attempt a shot, going scoreless against EMU on Jan. 16 in DeKalb ... Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno has 193 points on the season, seven tallies from becoming the fourth player this season to score 200 or more points ... Junior guard Michael Patton, the son of NIU head coach Ricardo Patton, has 395 career points, and is five short of 400.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Secure the regular season sweep over Eastern Michigan for the first time since 2002-03, and hold the MAC Tournament tiebreaker over the Eagles
» Improve to 6-3 versus MAC-West opponents this season
» Eclipse its entire Mid-American Conference win total from the 2008-09 season (5)

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Record its fourth-straight loss versus Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti (dating back to the 2005-06 season)
» Drop to 2-3 on the road in MAC-West play
» Drop to 1-8 in the month of February

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Saturday's game with a 9-18 overall record, 5-9 in the Mid-American Conference, and in sole possession of fifth-place in the MAC-West, two games behind Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan (7-7). The Huskies are 3-11 on the road this season, with two of those wins taking place against MAC-West foes (Ball State and Toledo).

The Huskies are being led offensively by junior guard Xavier Silas, who is averaging a MAC second-best 19.5 points per game, including 20.2 points per contest in conference play. Junior backcourt mate Darion "Jake" Anderson has provided 11.4 points per game in MAC action, while junior center Sean Kowal, who ranks second in the MAC in field goal percentage (.604), has added 10.5 points with a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per league game.

In conference play, the Huskies lead the MAC in offensive rebounds (13.14 rpg), rank second in both assists (14.21) and blocks per game (3.71), and are third in defensive rebounds (24.50 rpg) and rebounding margin (+1.7).

On the road, Northern Illinois is averaging 63.9 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 74.6 points per contest. Silas is scoring 16.9 points per game in 12 road contests, while Kowal has added 10.9 points per road outing on a 57.7 percent effort from the field.





Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson scored 22 points to join the 1,000-point club, and Xavier Silas poured in a game-high 25 points to lead Northern Illinois to a 77-69 win over visiting Eastern Michigan at the Convocation Center in DeKalb on Jan. 16.


SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Eastern Michigan enters Saturday's game with a 15-13 record, and is 7-7 in MAC play. The Eagles, who will be playing their first home game since Feb. 14, are 9-3 at the Convocation Center this season, including a 4-2 mark in league action.

The Eagles feature two-of the MAC's top-five scorers in junior forward Brandon Bowdry (16.6 ppg) and senior point guard Carlos Medlock (15.6), who is also averaging a MAC fifth-best 3.75 assists per game. Senior forward Justin Dobbins is scoring 11.9 points per game, and as mentioned, leads the MAC in field goal percentage (.623).

In MAC play, Eastern Michigan ranks third in the league in scoring defense (63.3 ppg), while ranking in the top-five in blocks (3.29) and steals per game (6.71), turnover margin (+1.29) and three-point field goals (6.14).

LAST TIME AGAINST EASTERN MICHIGAN
Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson scored 22 points to join the 1,000-point club, and Xavier Silas poured in a game-high 25 points to lead Northern Illinois to a 77-69 win over visiting Eastern Michigan at the Convocation Center in DeKalb on Jan. 16.

Eastern Michigan was led by Carlos Medlock, who scored 28 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including a 14-for-14 effort from the free throw line. Brandon Bowdry (13 points) and Quintin Daily (10) joined Medlock in double figures.

The Huskies owned scoring advantages in the paint (32-26), on the fast break (15-4) and from their bench (16-11). NIU shot 45.3 percent for the game, and limited the Eagles to just a 35.1 percent shooting effort. EMU posted a strong rebounding effort in the second half, and evened the total on the boards, 37-37. NIU's 82.8 percent (24-29) effort from the free throw line marked a season-best effort.

Other notables from the Jan. 16 match-up: There were a combined 14 ties and lead changes in the game ... NIU out-scored the Eagles in the second half, 41-35, and led by two (36-34) at halftime ... Neither team recorded a field goal in the final 3:47, and EMU was held without a converted field goal for the last four minutes ... The Huskies' largest lead was 15 points (59-44) with 10:19 remaining ... The Huskies were 18-of-18 from the free throw line in the second half ... The Eagles were just 1-for-10 from three-point range in the second stanza, and 4-for-22 (18.2 percent) for the game.

WEST-WARD BOUND
Despite enduring a 10-game losing streak (including nine-straight in MAC play) that lasted a total of 31 days, Northern Illinois enters the stretch run of MAC-West play as one of the division's hottest teams. The Huskies are 5-3 versus MAC-West foes this season, tied for the most divisional wins alongside Ball State and Eastern Michigan.

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. Anderson followed it up with a career-high tying five steals against visiting Central Michigan Wednesday night. He is currently ranked ninth all-time in career steals (106) at NIU.

Anderson's buzzer beating lay-up defeated CMU on Wednesday.


THREE'S COMPANY
Northern Illinois, which is averaging nearly six threes per game this season, has three players on its current roster that are ranked in the top-20 all-time in career three-pointers: Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno is tied for 16th all-time with 96 career threes, followed by junior guard Michael Patton (85; tied for 18th) and junior Darion "Jake" Anderson, who ranks 20th all-time with 81 career treys.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR?
Junior center Sean Kowal, who led the MAC in field goal percentage last season, is making a strong push for the league's Sixth Man of the Year award down the stretch of the regular season. Over the past five games, Kowal is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game on a 62.2 field goal percentage. Kowal has come off the bench in 17 games this season, 12 in MAC play, but ranks third on the team in minutes played (25.0 mpg), and is the Huskies' leading rebounder. Kowal has recorded three double-doubles, 10 double-digit scoring outputs and has led the Huskies in rebounding on 10 occasions, including in each of the past three contests.

ONE OF THE LEAGUE'S FINEST
Junior guard Xavier Silas, playing his first season in the Mid-American Conference, has cemented himself as a legitimate Player of the Year and First-Team All-MAC candidate as the conclusion of the regular season approaches. The Colorado transfer ranks second in the MAC in scoring (19.5 ppg), 10th in free throw percentage (.802), 20th in rebounding (5.3 rpg), seventh in three-point field goals made per game (2.00), and 17th in minutes played (31.36 mpg). In conference games, Silas has upped his scoring to a MAC second-best 20.2 points per game, ranks sixth in free throw percentage (.829), seventh in three-pointers per contest (2.07) and is tied for 14th in minutes played (32.64 mpg). He has scored 20 or more points nine times this season, boasts a total of 18 double digit scoring outputs, and has been the Huskies' leading scorer on 15 occasions.

SHARING THE WEALTH
Northern Illinois, one of the top rebounding teams in the Mid-American Conference, boasts three players that are averaging at least five rebounds per game during league play, and one (Lee Fisher) that is tearing down 4.9 caroms per MAC game. Sean Kowal leads the Huskies with 6.6 rebounds per MAC game, followed by guards Xavier Silas (5.4 rpg) and Darion "Jake" Anderson (5.2).

HUSKIE BLOCK PARTY
Northern Illinois, which ranks second in the MAC in blocks per game during league contests (3.71), 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 (42) and Najul Ervin (41) rank 16th and 17th all-time, respectively. Kowal has 15 blocks in MAC play, which is tied for eighth, while Fakuade's 24 terminations in 27 contests this season ranks 11th in the league.