NIU Closes Regular Season at Ball State

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

March 4, 2011

Notes: Game 29 at Ball State Get Acrobat Reader

NIU (9-19, 5-10) at Ball State (17-12, 9-6)
Saturday, March 5, 2011 | 2 p.m. ET
Muncie, Ind. | Worthen Arena | 11,500

NIU Radio Availability
WLBK  | 1360 AM | DeKalb
WSCR | 670 AM | Chicago
WJOL  | 1340 AM | Joliet

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois will play its final regular season game of the year at Ball State on Saturday, March 5, in Muncie, Ind. NIU travels to the Hoosier State on the heels of back-to=back wins over Toledo and Eastern Michigan. On Wednesday against the Eagles, Jeremy Landers tied a career-high with 17 points to help lead the Huskies to the victory. Christian added 13 points and Tim Toler netted 12 in the win. NIU held Eastern Michigan just 49 points, a season-low for a Huskie opponent this season. The victory over EMU was the final home game of the season for NIU, who is assured of playing on the road in the first round of the MAC Tournament.

About Ball State
The Cardinals bring a 17-12 overall record, 9-6 in the MAC, into the final regular season game of the year against NIU. Ball State is 10-3 overall at home this season. Jarrod Jones leads the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Jauwan Scaife adds 11.4 points per contest while Randy Davis chips in 10.0 points and 5.2 assists, second-best in the MAC. Ball State has the best defensive team in the MAC as opponents are averaging just 63.4 points per game against the Cardinals. Billy Taylor is in his fourth season as the head coach at Ball State

Against the Cardinals
Northern Illinois trails in the all-time series, 43-32, against Ball State. The Huskies won the last meeting between the two schools in Muncie, 62-48, on Jan. 9, 2010. The Cardinals own a 27-8 advantage in the series at home and have won two-straight overall against NIU. In the previous meeting this season, Ball State won 75-70 in DeKalb (Jan. 8, 2011). Jarrod Jones led the Cardinals with 25 points; Tim Toler paced NIU with a career-best 22 points.

Getting Defensive Down the Stretch
In their last four games, Northern Illinois has held each of its opponents at or under 40 percent shooting from the field. The streak began against Seattle (Feb. 19), as the Huskies held the Redhawks to 30.9 percent. NIU then held Central Michigan to 40 percent shooting, Toledo to 34.5 percent shooting and Eastern Michigan to 26.9 percent, a season-low for a Huskie opponent this season. Overall in the four-game stretch, NIU opponents are shooting 32.9 percent (69-of-210).

Landers Has Senior Day to Remember
NIU senior Jeremy Landers celebrated in final game at the NIU Convocation Center with a performance to remember scoring a career-high-tying 17 points with a career-best-tying six rebounds and a career-high three blocks. After not starting against Central Michigan (Feb. 23), Landers has returned to the starting lineup for the last two games and is averaging 15.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two contests.

Snapping the Triple Streak
The Huskies went 0-of-7 from three-point range in their 66-49 win over Eastern Michigan on March 2, snapping a streak of 367 consecutive games with a made three-pointer. The last time NIU did not make a triple in a game was Nov. 29, 1998, in a 79-55 loss at Florida International.

Grounding the Eagles
NIU held Eastern Michigan to a number of season low's for an opponent it its 66-49 victory on March 2. Among the new season-lows for an opponent were: point total (49), point total for a half (14), field goals (14), field goal percentage (26.9 percent) and rebounds (25).

Team Effort Leads to Toledo Win
With four players unavailable due to injury, including the nation's seventh-leading scorer Xavier Silas, NIU dressed just 10 players at Toledo on Feb. 26. The Huskies received contributions from all 10 in the overtime win over the Rockets as each player dressed scored and grabbed a rebound in the contest. Tim Toler led NIU with 19 points, including four three-pointers, while Tyler Storm came up with the biggest play of the game, a tip-in to force overtime with 10 seconds left in regulation.

Working Overtime
NIU's overtime win at Toledo (Feb. 26) was its first since Nov. 20, 2006, when the Huskies beat Duquesne, 87-82, on the road in overtime. It was the second overtime game of the season for NIU, the Huskies fell 73-70 to Bowling Green on Feb. 2. This is the first season since 2005-06 in which NIU has played multiple overtime games. That year, the Huskies defeated Kansas State and Buffalo in overtime while also dropping a double overtime contest at Winthrop. 

Patton Does the Little Things
Michael Patton scored just two points in NIU's overtime win at Toledo, but Patton guided the NIU offense from the point guard position, dishing out a career-high six assists, and also led the Huskies defensively in the contest, recording a career-high four steals. Over the past five games, playing primarily point guard due to injuries, Patton has a 1.75 assist/turnover ratio (14 assists, eight turnovers).

An Unfamiliar Five
The Huskies started the same lineup for every game from Nov. 24 through Jan. 29, a stretch of 16-straight games. In the nine games since, NIU has made seven changes to its starting lineup. Aksel Bolin, Lee Fisher, Bryan Hall, Jeremy Landers, Tony Nixon, Xavier Silas and Tim Toler have all missed games during that stretch due to injury or illness, in addition to Kyree Jones who has missed all but the first four games of the season due to a back injury.

Silas Among the Nation's Elite Scorers
After finishing the 2009-10 campaign as the MAC's No. 2 scorer with 19.7 points per game, Northern Illinois senior Xavier Silas is scoring at an even faster pace this season. The Texas native is averaging 22.3 points per game, seventh-best in the nation and tops in the Mid-American Conference. Silas scored a career-high 40 points against Illinois-Chicago, recording NIU's first 40-plus point game since Paul Dawkins netted 47 at Western Michigan on Feb. 28, 1979.  In his Huskie career, Silas has scored in double figures 44 times in 51 games played.  He scored 493 points in 2009-10 despite missing five games due to a hand injury suffered in the season opener and has 579 points this season. Silas has missed the last two games however due to an ankle injury.

When Opportunity Knocks ... Christian Answers
After not seeing any action in the previous three games, Antone Christian netted a new career-high with eight points against Western Michigan (Jan. 22). Since then, Christian has set a new career-high for scoring three more times. Christian scored 13 points against Akron (Jan. 26) to set a new career-best in back-to-back games. He had another career-high 15, including the game-tying three with 16 seconds left in regulation, against Bowling Green (Feb. 2), and set his current career-best with 17 points at Ohio (Feb. 5).

Christian has scored in double figures seven times in the last 11 games, the first seven double-digit scoring games of his career.

Silas Nets Scoring Milestone
Xavier Silas became the 29th player in NIU history to score 1,000 career points when he reached the milestone against Ohio (Feb. 5). Silas became just the third Huskie, joining Jim Bradley (1971-73, 1,134 points) and Kenny Battle (1984-86, 1,072 points), to reach the mark in just two seasons. Silas currently has 1,072 points in his NIU career, tied with Battle for 23rd on NIU's career scoring list. 

Toler Dials Long Distance
Tim Toler has made 32 three-point field goals this season, second-best on the team behind Xavier Silas. Toler entered MAC play just 6-of-24 from beyond the arc, but has caught fire in conference, shooting 26-of-53 from three. Toler is third in three-point percentage in conference play (49.1 percent) and tied for 15th in triples made. 

Grady Nets Career High
DeMarcus Grady set a new career-high with 11 points in NIU's overtime win at Toledo. Grady's 11 came in just 13 minutes of action against the Rockets. Grady's previous high of 10 against Western Michigan (Feb. 15) occurred in just nine minutes of play. Grady has played in 13 total games since joining the basketball team following the Humanitarian Bowl.

Patton, Landers Reach the Century Mark
Michael Patton played in his 100th career game at Miami (Feb. 9), getting the start in place of an injured Bryan Hall, the 18th start of his career. Jeremy Landers reached the mark one game later against Kent State (Feb. 12). Patton has played in 106 career games while Landers has seen action in 105. Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson (2002-06) hold the NIU career record for games played at 117. 

Hitting the Glass
NIU is the second-best rebounding team in the MAC during conference play, averaging 36.5 boards per game, and the third-best overall, also at 36.5 per contest. Tim Toler is the leading rebounder for the Huskies, he is pulling down 5.9 rebounds per game during conference play, 13th-best in the MAC.

Three's Company
In 12 of 15 conference games this season, the Huskies have had at least three players score in double figures. Xavier Silas has been in double figures in 12 games and leads the MAC in scoring at 21.9 points per conference game; Tim Toler has netted double-digits in nine games and Nate Rucker has scored in double figures eight times. Jeremy Landers has reached the mark in six game, Antone Christian has four times, DeMarcus Grady has twice and Tyler Storm has hit double-digits once during conference play. NIU had three players score in double figures in six of its 12 non-conference games.

Charity Stripe Turnaround
A year ago, Northern Illinois shot just 64.6 percent from the free throw line as eight of NIU's 12 players with more than two attempts on the season hit less than 60 percent from the line. The Huskies ranked 290th in the country and 11th in the MAC in free throw percentage, despite Xavier Silas' 81.1 percent mark.  In 2010-11, the Huskies have improved upon last season's mark, shooting 70.4 percent as a team, fifth-best in the MAC. Silas is shooting 85.1 percent individually, second-best in the conference. 

Patton Has Season-Best Against Redhawks
Michael Patton scored a season-best 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting against Seattle in its BracketBuster contest. The 15 points marked Patton's first double figure scoring game of the season and the 15th of his NIU career. The Huskies have had 11 different players score in double figures in at least one game this season.

Toler Picks Up First Career Double-Double
Tim Toler recorded his first double-double against Ohio (Feb. 5) with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Toler's double-double came as the Huskies were down a man in the post as Nate Rucker played just six minutes before leaving due to a bruised tailbone. NIU had back-to-back double-doubles with Rucker posting 10 points and 10 boards against Bowling Green (Feb. 2).

Second Double-Double for Rucker
Nate Rucker recorded his second career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Bowling Green (Feb. 2). Rucker's first double-double came in his second career game with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Bradley (Nov. 16). Rucker leads NIU in field goal percentage, shooting 53.5 percent; he is shooting 80 percent from the floor in the last five games. 

MAC Honors Times Five for Silas
Xavier Silas earned his fifth Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor on Jan. 31 after averaging 29.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for the week against Akron and Buffalo.

Silas earned his first accolade on Nov. 22, after scoring a combined 56 points the previous week against Bradley and Cardinal Stritch. He earned his second honor the following week following a 34-point performance in a victory at Maryland-Eastern Shore. Silas' third honor came on Dec. 19, after averaging 33.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in a pair of games against Illinois-Chicago and Temple. That week included a career night against UIC when Silas scored 40 points, breaking the NIU Convocation Center scoring record. His fourth honor came on Jan. 17, after posting 25.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in a pair of wins over Eastern Michigan and Toledo.

Silas Smashes Records vs. UIC
Xavier Silas scored 40 points to lead NIU to an 80-78 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 14. Silas' 40 points set a new NIU Convocation Center scoring record, the record was previously 35 by Buffalo's Andy Robinson on Feb. 5, 2008. NIU's previous best at the Convocation Center was 32 by Darion Anderson against Chicago State on Dec. 6, 2008.

Silas also scored 28 points in the second half of the contest, tying the NIU single-half record set by Larry Wyllie in the second half at Eastern Michigan on Feb. 15, 1958.

He also tied the NIU school records for free throws made (22) and attempted (24) in a game. Both of those marks were set by Willie Hanson against Central Michigan on Feb. 26, 1966.

Finally, Silas' 22 free throws made also ties the Mid-American Conference record held by three other players: Jim Ray, Toledo (Feb. 27, 1956), Rick Rightnowar, Toledo (Feb. 1, 1992) and Ron Lewis, Bowling Green (March 10, 2003).

The 40-Point Club
With his 40 points against UIC, Xavier Silas became one of just 18 players in the nation to score 40 points in a game this season. Mike James of Lamar and Marshon Brooks of Providence each scored 52 points in a game, the most in the nation this season.

The fourth- and fifth-highest scoring games of the year came in a four overtime game between Ohio and St. Bonaventure. Of the 40-point games in the nation just 14, including Silas', came in a non-overtime game against a Division I opponent. BYU's Jimmer Fredette and Brooks are the only players with multiple 40-point games this season. 

Sick Silas Nearly Nets 40
Despite missing practice two days prior, and being limited the day before, Xavier Silas scored 39 points to help NIU to an 83-74 win over Akron (Jan. 26). Silas was 9-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-9 from three, and 16-of-20 from the charity stripe in the contest with five NBA scouts watching courtside. Silas is one of just three players in the country with two-or-more games of 39-plus points; Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette has four such games and Marshon Brooks of Providence has two.

Landers Lights Up the Scoreboard
Jeremy Landers produced an individual offensive explosion in an eight-game stretch this season between the DePaul game (Dec. 2) and the Ball State game (Jan. 8). In those eight games, Landers averaged 10.3 points per game, after averaging just 2.6 points per contest through the first five games of the season. Landers scored in double figures five times during the stretch, remarkable considering he had just four double-digit scoring games in his first 83 career games played.

Landers has recorded five more double-digit scoring games since that stretch, giving him 10 on the season and 14 in his career.  

On Target
Silas' scoring increase has not come with more shots, but through hitting a higher percentage of his shots.  So far this season, Silas has made 45.9 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 41.3 percent clip.  Those percentages are far ahead of his 38.3 and 32.1 percent marks for field goals and three-pointers made, respectively, a year ago.

Hall Guides the Ship
Junior Bryan Hall has taken the reigns as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling. Hall is averaging 2.95 assists per game, 12th-best in the Mid-American Conference. He has dished out 3.30 assists per game since the beginning of conference play. After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall leads NIU with 65 assists this season.  More than just a passer however, against Western Michigan (Jan. 22), Hall stuffed the stat sheet with five points, four rebounds, five assists and a career-best four steals.

Hall has missed six of the last seven games however due to a hamstring injury. 

Toler Starts 2011 With Career Highs
Tim Toler recorded new career bests in both points and rebounds in the first two games of the new year. In NIU's first game of 2011 at Iowa State (Jan. 3), Toler set a new career-high in rebounds, grabbing 10 boards as the Huskies pushed the Cyclones down to the wire. He then registered a new career-high with 22 points in the conference opener against Ball State (Jan. 8). He has since surpassed his career high in rebounding, pulling down 12 boards in a victory over Akron (Jan. 26).

Career Days Cap 2010
Jeremy Landers and Bryan Hall each scored career highs in NIU's 86-76 New Year's Eve victory over Utah Valley. Landers scored 17 points, bettering his previous best of 14 set earlier this season at DePaul (Dec. 2) and Hall had 13 points to top his previous best of 10 against Boise State (Nov. 29) this season. Landers has since tied his career-best with 17 points against Eastern Michigan (March 2).

Silas a Senior CLASS Candidate
Xavier Silas was named one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's basketball.  The award honors seniors playing Division I basketball who have demonstrated high achievement in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition throughout their collegiate careers. Silas was not chosen as one of the 10 Lowe's Senior CLASS Finalists.

Streak Stopped
Xavier Silas started the season a perfect 28-of-28 from the free throw line before recording his first miss at Maryland Eastern Shore.  Silas made 42 straight free throws dating back to last year's penultimate game versus Toledo (March 4, 2010) before missing three of his last five free throws versus UMES.  Silas' made his last nine free throws versus Toledo last year, beginning with 31 seconds left in the first half.  He then hit all five of his tries in the MAC Tournament first-round game at Eastern Michigan. This year, he went 12-of-12 from the line versus Northwestern and hit all six of his tries at Bradley and versus Stritch, then made his first four free throws in Maryland.  Since missing his last attempt, Silas went 4-for-4 against Boise State.  The Northern Illinois record for consecutive free throws made in a season is 33 (by Todd Peterson in 2005-06); there is no record for consecutive free throws made in a career. 

Quarterback Grady Joins Roster
Redshirt junior DeMarcus Grady, a quarterback on the NIU football team, joined the Huskie basketball roster on Monday, Dec.20, after returning from the Humanitarian Bowl. Grady, who started the football season opener at Iowa State, has not played basketball since high school when he was an all-state honorable mention player as a senior. Grady helped the NIU football team win a school-record 11 games this season.
 
Newest Huskies
Northern Illinois signed a pair of players for 2011-12 on Nov. 10. Zach Miller, a 5-9 guard from Glenbard East High School in Chicago, and DeAndre Barnette, a 6-4 wing from Liberty Tech in Jackson, Tenn., inked with the Huskies following successful junior seasons at their respective schools and equally as impressive summers. Miller helped lead the Rams to the Class 4A sectional final as a junior as he averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 steals and 7.2 assists per game.  He was the DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year.  Barnette led Liberty Tech to the Tennessee Class 2A title game and was named to the all-tournament team at the state tourney. 

Challenging Slate
Northern Illinois will face six opponents that played in the 2010 postseason with games against NCAA Tournament participants Temple (Dec. 18), Missouri (Dec. 27) and Ohio (Feb. 5) along with National Invitation Tournament (NIT) teams Kent State (Feb. 12) and Northwestern. Akron earned a trip to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last year.

Looking Ahead
Northern Illinois will be on the road for the first round of the MAC Men's Basketball Tournament on Tuesday, March 8. NIU's opponent is yet to be determined.