Huskies Host Ball State in Regular Season Finale

GO HUSKIES Senior Aksel Bolin has played in 111 career games heading into Saturday's regular season finale
Senior Aksel Bolin has played in 111 career games heading into Saturday's regular season finale

March 7, 2014

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Senior Profiles: Aksel Bolin | Antone Christian

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Northern Illinois Huskies (13-16, 7-10 MAC) vs. Ball State Cardinals (5-23, 2-15 MAC)
Date / Time: Saturday, March 8, 2014 / 3:30 p.m. CT
Site: NIU Convocation Center • DeKalb, Ill.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • NIUTube (
Live Video:
Live Stats:
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Ball State leads 48-33
Last Meeting: Feb. 1, 2014 • NIU, 67-65 (ot)

• Over the last four games, NIU is shooting 79.2 percent (76-of-96) as a team from the free-throw line.
• NIU is closing the regular season at home for the first time since 2010, the Huskies have ended the regular season at Ball State in each of the last three seasons.
Aaric Armstead is third in the MAC among freshmen in scoring (9.6 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (4.6 rpg) in conference play. Armstead is the only player that ranks in the top-five in both categories. In the last seven games, Armstead is averaging 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
• In his last 12 games, Jordan Threloff is averaging 12.4 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the field and 79.7 percent from the free-throw line. Threloff is also averaging 8.6 rebounds per game during that stretch.  
• The Huskies are shooting 72 percent (329-of-457) from the free-throw line in the second half this season and just 62.9 percent (178-of-283) in the first half of games this season.
Travon Baker is tied for sixth in the MAC in steals in conference play (1.9 spg), 11th overall (1.5 spg). Baker also ranks 15th in assists per game (2.4 apg).
Darrell Bowie is averaging 10.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his last seven contests. Bowie has scored in double figures 12 times this season and has grabbed seven-or-more rebounds 17 times. Bowie missed the first game of his career last time out at Western Michigan (March 4) due to illness.
Pete Rakocevic is shooting 63 percent (17-of-27) from the field over the past 12 games.
• NIU is ranked 19th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (13.79), 39th in scoring defense (63.9 ppg) and 42nd in rebounding margin (+4.8).
• Four of NIU’s last five losses have come by five points or less. The Huskies fell by three to Western Michigan (Feb. 9) and at Central Michigan (Feb. 23), by four at Eastern Michigan (March 1) and by five at Western Michigan (March 4). NIU’s other loss in the last 11 games came by eight, 62-54, at Akron (Feb. 15).  
• The Huskies have won seven games this season by seven points or less, NIU won just one game by seven or fewer points all of last season.
• NIU has played 11 games decided by five points or less, 14 games decided by seven points or less and 20 games by nine points or less.
• NIU’s 13 wins this season are more than the combined total from the two previous years (10). The 13 wins are the most for a Huskie team since going 17-11 during the 2005-06 season.
Aksel Bolin has appeared 111 games during his NIU career, but saw his streak of 86 consecutive games snapped at Ball State due to illness. The NIU record for career games played in 117, by Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson (2002-06).
• The Huskies have won five road games this season, the most for the program since winning six in 2005-06.
• The Huskies have lost 59 man games due to injury this season, not including redshirts, and are currently dressing nine scholarship players.
• The Cardinals come to DeKalb with a 5-23 overall record, 2-15 in Mid-American Conference play. Ball State dropped a 72-58 decision at Eastern Michigan last time out. Prior to the contest with EMU, Ball State defeated Central Michigan and took Western Michigan to overtime.
• Four players are scoring in double figures for the Cardinals, led by 12.6 points per game for Chris Bond. Zavier Turner (12.3 ppg) Jesse Berry (11.5 ppg) and Majok Majok (11.5 ppg) are also scoring in double figures. Majok is also averaging 10.2 rebounds per contest, tops in the MAC.
• Ball State head coach James Whitford is in his first season in Muncie, Whitford joined the Cardinals following four seasons as an assistant at Arizona.

• NIU rallied from down as much as 15, and nine with less than seven minutes left in regulation, to win 67-65 in overtime at Ball State (Feb. 1).
Aaric Armstead set then career-high for points (14), rebounds (8) and assists (3).
Jordan Threloff added 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while J.J. Cravatta scored nine points, including a pair of triples. Cravatta entered the game with just two points in six conference games played.
• After being held scoreless, Travon Baker tied the game with a triple with nine seconds left in regulation. Baker scored five more points in the overtime and also finished with a career-high tying six assists.
• NIU shot 48 percent (12-of-25) in the second half, including 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from three-point range. The Huskies made seven triples in the contest and shot 41.2 percent from three in the game.
• NIU played with just nine players as senior Aksel Bolin missed the game due to illness.

• Ball State leads the all-time series against NIU, 48-33. The Cardinals had won seven-straight in the series until NIU’s 67-65 victory in Muncie on Feb. 1.
• NIU holds a 22-17 edge all-time in DeKalb, but the Cardinals have won each of their last four trips to NIU.
• The Huskies last victory at home over Ball State was a 56-55 win on Feb. 28, 2009.

• Western Michigan slipped past NIU, 61-56, on Tuesday night at University Arena in Kalamazoo.
Jordan Threloff posted his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Aaric Armstead led the Huskies with 15 points.
• Western Michigan went 26-of-33 (78.8 percent) from the free-throw line; NIU went 13-of-17 (76.5 percent) from the charity stripe.
• NIU sophomore Darrell Bowie missed the contest due to illness, snapping a streak of 58 consecutive games played.

• Third-year head coach Mark Montgomery has NIU headed in the right direction, after two years of laying the foundation of his program; the fruits of that labor are starting to show. Consider the following…
• NIU’s 13 wins this season are more than the combined total from the two previous years (10). The 13 wins are the most for a Huskie team since going 17-11 during the 2005-06 season.
• The eight-win improvement over last season’s five wins is already tied for the third-best single season win improvement in school history. With one more win, NIU would tie a school record for the biggest single-season turnaround in program history.
• NIU’s seven conference wins are also the most for the Huskies since recording 12 during the 2005-06 season.
• NIU currently has a RPI of 200; the Huskies have not finished with an RPI above 260 since the 2005-06 season.
• The Huskies currently rank 206 in the KenPom ratings. NIU has not finished a season above 230 since the 2006-07 campaign.  
• NIU defeated Toledo, 74-66 on Feb. 26, the Rockets are currently ranked 37th in the RPI. The Huskies have not posted a top-50 RPI win since defeating Wisconsin, 55-51, on Dec. 14, 1999. The Badgers finished the 1999-2000 season ranked 21st in the RPI.   
• The Huskies have won five road games this season, the most for the program since winning six in 2005-06.
• The Huskies finished the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 6-6 record, marking the most non-conference wins for NIU since winning six in 1999-2000.
• NIU has had 74 double figure scoring games this season, NIU had just 46 such performances last year.
• The Huskies have had 44 seven-plus rebound performances this season; NIU had just 22 a year ago.
• In NIU’s 88-63 victory over Central Michigan (Feb. 12), the Huskies recorded their largest margin of victory over a conference foe (25) since defeating Eastern Michigan, 94-61 (33) on Feb. 26, 2006. NIU’s 88 points is the most for the program against a Division I opponent since defeating Chicago State, 99-93, on Jan. 6, 2010.
• NIU had a three-game winning streak from Jan. 29-Feb. 4, winning at Kent State and Ball State along with a home win over Miami (Ohio). The three-game winning streak is NIU’s longest since winning six-straight in the 2009-10 season (Jan. 2, 2010-Jan. 20, 2010).
• NIU defeated Bowling Green, 45-36, to record its first victory at Bowling Green since 2006. The 36 points allowed by the Huskies were the fewest allowed by NIU since holding Akron to 30 in a 48-30 victory on Jan. 26, 1991.



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