NIU Men's Cagers Battle Western Michigan In First Round Of MAC Tournament

GO HUSKIES Junior Zach Pancratz has knocked down at least one three-pointer in his last three games.
Junior Zach Pancratz has knocked down at least one three-pointer in his last three games.

March 5, 2007

#11 Northern Illinois vs. #6 Western Michigan Mid-American Conference Tournament Game Notes in PDF Format
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DeKalb, Ill. - The regular-season is over and it's time for the Northern Illinois men's basketball team to start anew, as the 11th seeded Huskies (7-22) open the Mid-American Conference Tournament against No. 6 seed Western Michigan (15-15) on Wednesday night in first-round action at the Quicken Loans Arena. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. (CST).
The Huskies snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday (Mar. 4) afternoon wiht a 76-69 victory over Eastern Michigan at the NIU Convocation Center. Senior center James Hughes topped four Huskies in double-figures with a game-high 24 points and a career-high tying six blocks.
Western Michigan guards David Kool (27 points) and Andre Ricks (20 points) combined for 47 points, as the visiting Broncos earned the 71-67 come-from-behind victory over Ball State at Worthen Arena on Sunday.

THE COACHES -- Rob Judson is in his sixth season at the helm of the NIU men's basketball team, and has a career-record of 74-100 including last season's Mid-American Conference West Division championship. Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins is in his fourth year as the Broncos' skipper and has totaled a mark of 75-50 in four years in Kalamazoo, and has a career-record of 212-161 in 13 seasons.

THE SERIES -- Western Michigan holds a 41-27 advantage over the Huskies in their all-time series.

THE LAST TIME -- Western Michigan freshman guard David Kool led four Broncos in double-figures with 19 points, followed by a double-double from Joe Reitz (13 points, 13 rebounds), 12 points from Derek Drews and 11 points from Andre Ricks as WMU picked up the 68-54 win over Northern Illinois on March 1, 2007. NIU senior guard Mike McKinney topped the Huskies with 16 points.

TOURNAMENT TIME -- NIU is 2-5 in Mid-American Conference Tournament appearances under head coach Rob Judson. The Huskies' last win in the tourney was a 75-63 triumph over Western Michigan on March 13, 2003 in the MAC Quarterfinals.

YOU AGAIN? -- Wednesday's match-up between Northern Illinois and Western Michigan will be the second time in a week that both teams have met. The last time that Northern Illinois and Western Michigan met twice in a week came in the 2002-03 campaign as the Broncos earned the 71-67 win over the Huskies on March 8, 2003 in DeKalb, but NIU bounced back for the 75-63 win against WMU in the MAC Quarterfinals on March 13, 2003.

TOURNAMENT TESTED -- NIU senior guard Mike McKinney is averaging 11.3 points and eight rebounds-per-game in three MAC Tournament contests.

CHARITY STRIPE -- NIU tied a school-record against UWGB, as the Huskies knocked down all 14 of their free throw attempts. The Huskies' performance at the free throw line was a new Convocation Center record, as Illinois State previously held the standard with a 93.8% (15-for-16) performance on November 26, 2003.

CHARITY STRIPE (PART DEUX) -- NIU is shooting 83.1% (69-for-83) from the free throw line in the Huskies' last five games.

CHARITY STRIPE (PART TROIS) -- NIU freshman guard Cody Yelder has knocked down his last 12 free throw attempts.

BLOCK PARTY -- With a pair of blocks against Central Michigan on February 25, senior center James Hughes became NIU's all-time career-leader in swats, surpassing Allen Rayhorn's (1978-82) previous standard of 199. Hughes currently has 208 career blocks.

INJURY REPORT -- Northern Illinois junior point guard Ryan Paradise will be a game time decision after spraining his right ankle in practice on Tuesday (Feb. 27).

1,000 CLUB -- Senior guard Mike McKinney became the 26th player in NIU school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau with a seven-point performance against Bowling Green on Feb. 7th. Teammate James Hughes followed suit and became the 27th player to reach that mark with a 24-point showing against Eastern Michigan on Mar. 4th.

HISTORY MAKER -- NIU senior guard Mike McKinney is the first player in Huskie history, since assists were recorded, to notch 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in his career.

FROM WAY DOWNTOWN -- Junior guard Zach Pancratz has knocked down at least one three-pointer in each of the Huskies' last 10 games. During that stretch, Pancratz has converted 43.8% (21-for-48) of his long-range attempts.

CRUNCH TIME-- NIU point guards Cody Yelder (15-for-15), Quintan Lipkins (5-for-5) and Ryan Paradise (4-for-4) are each perfect from the free throw line with less than two minutes remaining in the contest. As a team, NIU is shooting 51.8% (57-for-110) from the field in the final two minutes of a contest.

DOUBLE DUTY -- Northern Illinois has totaled five double-doubles this season including:
James Hughes (25 points, 14 rebounds) vs. Toledo on Feb. 22;
James Hughes (20 points, 12 rebounds) at Eastern Michigan on Jan. 9;
Mike McKinney (19 points, 13 rebounds) at Marist on Dec. 29;
Shaun Logan (15 points, 11 rebounds) at Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 22;
James Hughes (22 points, 10 rebounds) vs. Duquesne on Nov. 25.

20/20 VISION -- A NIU player has tallied 20+ points in a half two times this season, as senior center James Hughes scored 24 of his career and game-high 27 points in the Huskies 72-70 loss against Georgia Southern on December 8th. Junior guard / forward Zach Pancratz accomplished that feat on December 2nd as he scored a career-high 22 points, including six treys, in the second half of NIU's 72-62 loss against Winthrop.

IMMEDIATE IMPACT -- Freshman guard Cody Yelder missed 10 games earlier this season due to arthroscopic left knee surgery. During that span, the Huskies averaged 61 points-per-game, while shooting 44.6% from the field, 36.3% from three-point range and 69.4% from the free throw line. In the nine games since his return, the Huskies are averaging 70.7 points-per-game, while shooting 50.1% from the field, 37.1% from three-point range and 78.0% from the free throw line.

SHOOTING STROKE -- Senior center James Hughes is currently the school-record holder for career field-goal percentage, as the Silvis, Ill., native has converted 58.4% (412-for-705) of his career field-goal attempts. Hughes also owns a season field-goal percentage of 60.1% (143-for-238) this season, which would break his current school-record field goal percentage of 58.2% set last year.



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