Huskies Close Regular Season Saturday at Ball State

GO HUSKIES Freshman wing Darrell Bowie
GO HUSKIES
Freshman wing Darrell Bowie
GO HUSKIES

March 8, 2013

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Northern Illinois Huskies (5-23, 3-12 MAC) at Ball State Cardinals (14-14, 7-8 MAC)
Date / Time: Saturday, March 9, 2013 / 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET)
Site: Worthen Arena • Toledo, Ohio
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: BallStateSports.com
Live Stats: BallStateSports.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Ball State leads 47-32
Last Meeting: Feb. 13, 2013 • Ball State 56-52

WHAT’S TRENDING
• Northern Illinois is traveling to Ball State to close the regular season for the third consecutive season.
Mike Davis scored a career-best 12 points in his first career start against Central Michigan (March 2). Davis is averaging 9.7 points per game over the last three games.
Aksel Bolin is averaging 12.5 points over the last two games, shooting 52.6 percent from the field.
Travon Baker recorded a new career-high six assists against Central Michigan (March 2). Baker has a 1.33 assist/turnover ratio in the last six 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.
Mike Davis has gone to the free-throw line 26 times in the last five games, more than half of his season total.
Travon Baker is shooting 87.5 percent from the free-throw line over the last 12 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 59-straight contests; neither has missed a game in their collegiate career.

TOURNAMENT TIME
• Northern Illinois is guaranteed to play a road game in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament; the Huskies could be seeded as high as No. 9 and as low as No. 11.
• The Huskies will travel to Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Ball State or Bowling Green.
• NIU is 1-1 all-time in the MAC Tournament against Eastern Michigan, 1-2 against Buffalo, 1-2 against Ball State and 2-2 against Bowling Green.
• Last season, Northern Illinois was the No. 12 seed in the MAC Tournament; the Huskies traveled to Ypsilanti to face No. 5 seed Eastern Michigan in the first round and defeated the Eagles, 55-52.  
• Just 11 schools will compete in the 2013 MAC Tournament; Toledo is ineligible due to low APR scores.

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 10 games, Darrell Bowie is shooting 50.9 percent from the field. Prior to that stretch, Bowie was shooting 41.9 percent for the season.
• In that same 10 game stretch, Keith Gray is shooting 53.8 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 four of the last seven games and tied a season-high with four made field goals 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 played 17 minutes last time out against Toledo, the most since returning from injury, scoring two points with four rebounds.  

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 55.2 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 26.7 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 28 games this season. No player has started all 28 games, with Bolin and Kevin Gray making the most starts (23 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 (1.43) 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 ninth in the MAC, tops among freshmen, with 1.4 steals per game.
Abdel Nader ranks 17th in scoring in conference games at 12.0 points per contest and 11th 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 12.5 offensive boards per game.
• The Huskies are third in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.7 percent and second in defensive rebounding percentage in conference play at 71.2 percent.  

GETTING TO THE LINE
• Northern Illinois has attempted 329 free throws during conference play, an average of 21.9 per contest.
• In contrast, the Huskies shot 190 free throws in non-conference action, an average of 14.6 trips per game.
Darrell Bowie (77) leads NIU in free throw attempts in MAC contests.
Daveon Balls leads the Huskies in free throw shooting in conference play, connecting at a 80 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.

ABOUT BALL STATE
• The Cardinals are 14-14 overall, 7-8 in the Mid-American Conference, but are one of the hottest teams in the league, having won six of their last seven games.
• Ball State has three players scoring in double figures, led by Jauwan Scaife at 16.2 points per contest. Jesse Berry is also in double figures at 13.3 points per game and Majok Majok is averaging a double-double, 10.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest.
• Ball State has the top defensive rebounding percentage in the MAC, pulling down 71.4 percent of their opponent’s missed shots. NIU is third in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.7 percent.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• Ball State leads the all-time series against Northern Illinois, 47-32.
• The Cardinals won the previous meeting this season, 56-52, on Feb. 13, in DeKalb.
• Ball State has won six-straight in the series, with the last NIU victory coming on Jan. 9, 2010 (62-48) in Muncie.
• Northern Illinois trails the all-time series in meetings played in Muncie, 29-8.
• With Saturday’s meeting, the Huskies and Cardinals will have met in the final game of the regular season in three-straight seasons, with all three meetings coming in Muncie.

TOLEDO RECAP
• Northern Illinois began the final week of the regular season with a 70-46 setback at Toledo.
Aksel Bolin scored a team-high 14 points for the Huskies, leading NIU in scoring for the sixth time this season, and the seventh time in his career.
Mike Davis grabbed a new career-high seven rebounds.
• The Huskies tied a season-low with 10 3-point attempts, NIU also attempted 10 triples at Dayton (Dec. 1).
• NIU recorded just three assists, the lowest total for a game during Mark Montgomery’s tenure.

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.

BREAKING A 32-YEAR HEX
• With its 72-61 victory at Miami on Jan. 9, Northern Illinois snapped a 13-game losing streak in Oxford, Ohio. NIU’s last road victory against the RedHawks came on Feb. 21, 1981.
• The Huskies entered the game at Miami with a 1-19 record all-time in Oxford.
• The victory over Miami gave NIU a 1-0 start in conference play for the first time since 2009-10 when the Huskies won at Ball State in the league opener.
• Having broken the losing streak at Miami, NIU’s longest conference road losing streak is now six, at Buffalo. The last Huskie victory in Buffalo came on Feb. 6, 2003.

ANOTHER STREAK BITES THE DUST
• After snapping a 13-game losing streak at Miami (Ohio) in the conference opener, NIU snapped another road losing streak at Central Michigan.
• NIU’s victory in Mt. Pleasant on Jan. 23 was its first at Central Michigan since a 49-43 victory on Jan. 26, 2006.
• The win snapped a six-game losing streak on the road against the Chippewas.

A CONVO FIRST, AND FIRST SINCE 2003
• Northern Illinois broke another streak in conference play with its 67-65 victory over Kent State on Jan. 30. The Huskie win snapped an 11 game losing streak to Kent State.
Abdel Nader recorded his first career double-double with a career-high-tying 26 points and a career-best 11 rebounds against the Golden Flashes. Nader hit a pull-up, 18-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds left to win the game for NIU.
• The victory was NIU’s first against Kent State since, Feb. 8, 2003, when NIU earned a 67-61 win at Kent State.
• The win marked the first time the Huskies have defeated the Golden Flashes in the NIU Convocation Center. NIU’s last home win against Kent State was a 64-52 triumph on Jan. 3, 1998, at NIU’s former home, Chick Evans Fieldhouse.


 

 

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