NIU Closes Regular Season at Ball State



March 2, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (4-24, 3-12 MAC) at Ball State Cardinals (14-14, 5-10 MAC)
Date: Saturday March 3, 2012
Tipoff: 1 p.m. (2 p.m. ET)
Location: Worthen Arena • Muncie, Ind.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM in DeKalb and WSCR 670-AM in Chicago
Live Stats:

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois concludes the 2011-12 regular season on Saturday when the Huskies travel to Ball State. The Cardinals won the first meeting of the season, 75-65, despite a season-high 26 points from Abdel Nader. The Huskies are coming off a 65-61 victory over Toledo on Wednesday night, Nader led NIU with 12 points against the Rockets, Aksel Bolin added 10 points and eight rebounds. This is the second-straight season in which NIU has concluded the regular season at Ball State.

About Ball State
The Cardinals bring a 14-14 record into Saturday’s contest, 5-10 in conference play. Jarrod Jones leads Ball State averaging 15.1 points, sixth-best in the MAC, and 8.9 rebounds, second-best in the conference, per contest. Randy Davis ranks third in the MAC in assists dishing out 5.0 per game. After beginning the season 12-5, the Cardinals have won just twice in their last 11 games.

Against the Cardinals
Ball State holds a 45-32 lead in the all-time series against Northern Illinois and is currently on a four-game winning streak against the Huskies. The Cardinals have a 28-8 edge in games played in Munice in the series. NIU’s last win over Ball State came in Muncie on Jan. 9, 2010, when the Huskies earned a 62-48 road win.

A Steal to Seal a Victory
With the Huskies holding a three-point lead with 7.8 seconds remaining against Toledo (Feb. 29), Marquavese Ford came up with a steal on an inbounds play, effectively icing the game for NIU. Ford was fouled and split a pair from the free-throw line, giving the Huskies a four-point victory. Ford leads NIU with 23 steals this season.

Protecting the Pill
In its 65-61 victory over Toledo (Feb. 29), the Huskies committed just 10 turnovers, including just two in the second half. NIU’s two second half turnovers are its fewest in a half this season, the Huskies previous low was three, in the first half against both Nebraska Omaha (Dec. 3) and UIC (Dec. 10).  

MAC Freshman of the Year?
Abdel Nader has made a strong case for MAC Freshman of the Year honors, posting his 16th double-figure scoring game last time out against Toledo (Feb. 29). Nader is second in the MAC in scoring among freshmen, 10.6 points per game, and second in rebounding among rookies, 4.1 boards per contest. The Skokie, Ill., native also ranks fifth in the league in steals among freshmen, seventh in assists among freshmen and leads MAC freshmen in blocks.

Looking Ahead
Northern Illinois will open the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament on the road on Monday night, March 5. NIU’s first round opponent has yet to be determined.



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