Huskies Begin Final Road Trip at Toledo

GO HUSKIES Travon baker had a career-best six assists last time out against Central Michigan
GO HUSKIES
Travon baker had a career-best six assists last time out against Central Michigan
GO HUSKIES

March 4, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (5-22, 3-11 MAC) at Toledo Rockets (13-13, 8-6 MAC)
Date / Time: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 / 6 p.m. CT (7 p.m. ET)
Site: Savage Arena • Toledo, Ohio
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: UTRockets.com
Live Stats: UTRockets.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Toledo leads 40-23
Last Meeting: Feb. 2, 2013 • Toledo 69-64

WHAT’S TRENDING
• Northern Illinois is beginning the final week of the regular season with a road game tonight at Toledo. The Huskies will close the regular season on Saturday at Ball State, ending in Muncie for the third-straight season.  
Mike Davis scored a career-best 12 points in his first career start against Central Michigan (March 2). Davis is averaging 10.5 points per game over the last two games.
Travon Baker recorded a new career-high six assists against Central Michigan. Baker has a 2.0 assist/turnover ratio in the last five games.
Darrell Bowie is making a case for inclusion on the MAC All-Freshman Team. Bowie is averaging 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game during conference play, ranking sixth in scoring among conference freshmen in league play and fifth in rebounding. Bowie entered league play averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Travon Baker is shooting 87.5 percent from the free-throw line over the last 11 games.
Abdel Nader has scored in double figures in 13 games this season; Nader has scored in double figures in 29 games during his career, including six 20-plus games.
• 11 different players have started at least one game for the Huskies with Mike Davis becoming the 11th player, making his first career start against Central Michigan (March 2).
• Keith and Kevin Gray have both played in 58-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

FINDING THEIR STRIDE
Northern Illinois’ post players have found their shooting touch in recent games, with each of them shooting much better percentages during a recent stretch.
• Over the last nine games, Darrell Bowie is shooting 54.2 percent from the field. Prior to that stretch, Bowie was shooting 41.9 percent for the season.
• In that same nine game stretch, Keith Gray is shooting 59.1 percent from the field, Gray shot 36.5 percent from the field in the first 18 games of the year.
Kevin Gray has shot 50 percent or better from the field in three of the last six games and has tied a season-high with four made field goals last time out against Central Michigan (March 2).
• Another one of NIU’s primary post players, Sam Mader, is still working his way back from a shoulder injury that saw him miss five games. Mader has played 44 total minutes in the last seven contests, including eight minutes last time out against Central Michigan (March 2), going 2-of-2 from the field.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 54.9 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 27.0 percent of the minutes (a total of 81.9 percent by underclassmen).
• The team leading at halftime has won all but two games played by NIU this season. The lone exceptions were at Miami (Jan. 9) when the Huskies and RedHawks were tied at the half, NIU won that contest and at Western Michigan (Feb. 16), when NIU led at the half but the Broncos came from behind to win.
• Five Huskies, Travon Baker, Aksel Bolin, Darrell Bowie, Keith Gray and Kevin Gray, have played in all 27 games this season. No player has started all 27 games, with Bolin and Kevin Gray making the most starts (22 each).
• With victories over Miami and Kent State, NIU recorded multiple wins against the MAC East Division for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
• Preseason All-MAC selection Abdel Nader played his first game of the season at UW Milwaukee (Dec. 7) after a season-opening suspension for violation of team rules.
• Northern Illinois returns its top-five scoring letterwinners and top-six rebounders from a season ago.
• Nine of the 14 players making up the Huskie roster this season are underclassmen.
• Of the five upperclassmen on NIU’s roster, one will sit out this season following a transfer (Pete Rakocevic) and another had never played a Division I game until this season (Brandon Hayes).
• NIU made its first appearance in the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, playing Valparaiso at 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Huskies were one of two MAC schools, along with Kent State, that will appear in the marathon.
• The Huskies will play 10 teams that appeared in postseason play a season ago: Valpo (Horizon League regular season champs, NIT), Dayton (NIT), Milwaukee (CBI), Washington (Pac-12 regular season champs, NIT Final Four), UMass (NIT Final Four), Akron (MAC regular season champs, NIT), Bowling Green (CIT), Buffalo (CIT), Kent State (CIT) and Ohio (NCAA Sweet 16).

THE EXPERIENCE TRACKER
• Developed by StatSheet.com, “The Experience Tracker” looks at the experience per minute played by every team in the country.
• Each team’s number is generated by taking the sum of minutes each player plays, multiplied by their class (1-freshmen, 2-sophomores, 3-juniors, 4-seniors) divided by the total of team minutes.
• Northern Illinois is currently the third-least experienced team in the country (1.64) behind Texas (1.42) and Dartmouth (1.63).
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is eighth in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.4 steals per game.
Abdel Nader ranks 16th in scoring in conference games at 12.0 points per contest and 12th in rebounding at 5.9 boards per game.
Darrell Bowie is sixth in scoring among freshmen in league games (7.3 ppg) and fifth in rebounding among conference rookies in league play (4.3 rpg).  
• Northern Illinois ranks second in the MAC in offensive rebounding, pulling down 12.6 offensive boards per game.
• The Huskies are third in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.5 percent and second in defensive rebounding percentage in conference play at 70.8 percent.  

GETTING TO THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 308 free throws during confeence play, an average of 22.0 per contest.
• In contrast, the Huskies shot 190 free throws in non-conference action, an average of 14.6 trips per game.
Darrell Bowie (68) leads NIU in free throw attempts in MAC contests.
Travon Baker leads the Huskies in free throw shooting in conference play, connecting at a 78.3 percent clip.  

RESPONDING TO ADVERSITY
Northern Illinois has done an excellent job of responding following tough games all season long; consider the following four contests and the game immediately following:
• NIU lost at Dayton on Dec. 1, 60-43, scoring just five points in the first half. The Huskies responded from a difficult first half by outscoring Dayton in the second half, 38-34. NIU then went on to win its next game against SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 5), 65-54, shooting 52 percent from the field in the contest.
• Seattle defeated Northern Illinois, 75-48, on Dec. 19. The Huskies answered with a strong performance against Washington (Dec.22), trailing by six with less than two minutes to play before falling, 67-57.
• After a 71-34 home loss against Western Michigan (Jan. 19), NIU earned its first win at Central Michigan (Jan. 23) since 2006 with a 74-61 victory over the Chippewas. The Huskies shot 48.8 percent from the field in the contest, including 52.6 percent from 3-point range.
• NIU scored four first half points in a 42-25 loss at Eastern Michigan (Jan. 26). The Huskies answered that performance with a 67-65 win over Kent State (Jan. 30). Northern Illinois never trailed against the Golden Flashes, shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 53.8 percent behind the arc.

NADER BY THE NUMBERS
Abdel Nader does not appear among the MAC individual statistical leaders because he has not appeared in 75 percent of NIU’s games, if he had, Nader would rank in the top-15 of five different categories.
• Nader would rank 11th in scoring (13.1 points per game), 13th in rebounding (5.6 per contest), 11th in free throw percentage (77.2 percent), 11th in steals (1.3 per game) and ninth in defensive rebounds (4.1 per game).
• In league play, just three players in the MAC, Nader, Kent State’s Chris Evans and Buffalo’s Javon McCrea, rank in the top 20 in scoring as well as the top 15 in rebounding, blocks and steals.
• If he had played enough games to be eligible for overall statistical leaders, Nader would be the only player in the league to rank in the top-15 in points, rebounds and free-throw percentage.

ABOUT TOLEDO
• The Rockets enter Tuesday’s contest with a 13-13 overall record, 8-6 in Mid-American Conference play. Toledo has lost two-straight after winning seven of its previous eight.
• Rian Pearson leads Toledo averaging 18.2 points, best in the MAC, and 7.0 rebounds, seventh in the MAC, per game.
• Toledo leads the MAC, and ranks fifth in the nation, in free throw percentage at 76.7 percent.
• Despite currently sitting second in the MAC West, Toledo is ineligible for postseason play due to low Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Toledo leads the all-time series against NIU, 40-23.
• Toledo has a 25-7 edge against the Huskies in Toledo, including a 71-41 victory last season (Jan. 18, 2012).
• The Rockets won the earlier meeting this season, 69-64, in DeKalb.
• NIU has won seven of the last 10 against Toledo, including two of the last three in Toledo.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN RECAP
• Central Michigan claimed a 69-50 victory over Northern Illinois on Senior Night at the NIU Convocation Center.
Mike Davis made his first career start against CMU and scored a career-best 12 points.
Travon Baker dished out a career-high six assists against the Chippewas.
• Northern Illinois outscored Central Michigan 36-18 in the paint.
• The Chippewa bench outscored the Huskie bench, 16-4.
• Just six players scored for NIU, all five starters (Darrell Bowie, Kevin Gray, Aksel Bolin, Travon Baker and Mike Davis) and Sam Mader as the lone player off the bench.

EASTERN MICHIGAN RECAP
• Eastern Michigan knocked off NIU, 53-41, on Wednesday to sweep the season series between the two schools.
• NIU attempted just 42 field goals, its second-lowest total of the season. The Huskies had 41 attempts at Dayton (Dec. 1).
• The Eagles outscored the Huskies 20-6 in the paint.
Mike Davis tied a career-high with nine points against the Eagles.
Brandon Hayes made a pair of free throws for the first two points of his Huskie career.