NIU Opens Regular Season at Nebraska Omaha

GO HUSKIES Redshirt junior guard Antone Christian
GO HUSKIES
Redshirt junior guard Antone Christian
GO HUSKIES

Nov. 8, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (0-0, 0-0 Summit)
Date / Time:  Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 / 7 p.m. CT
Site: Ralston Sports and Event Center • Omaha, Neb.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM in DeKalb, Ill. • WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Stats: OMavs.com
Live Video: OMavs.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Nebraska Omaha leads 1-0
Last meeting: Dec. 3, 2011 • UNO 77-72

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Northern Illinois returns its top-five scoring letterwinners and top-six rebounders from a season ago.
• 10 of the 15 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 Rakosevic) and another has never played a Division I game (Brandon Hayes).
• NIU will make its first appearance in the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, playing Valparaiso at 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Huskies are 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).

WHAT’S BACK FOR NIU
• With its six-man returning nucleus from a season ago, the Huskies return more than 60 percent of their production for 2011-12 in most statistical categories.
• The following are NIU’s percentages returning from last season: minutes (60.7 percent), scoring (62.6), rebounds (63.1), assists (47.0), blocks (71.2) and steals (57.1).
• By comparison, here are the numbers that returned at the beginning of last season from the 2010-11 campaign: minutes (33.8 percent), scoring (32.0), rebounds (31.8), assists (26.6), blocks (39.7) and steals (27.4).

ABOUT NEBRASKA OMAHA
• Nebraska Omaha played its first season reclassifying to NCAA Division I last season, the Mavericks finished with an 11-18 record.
• The Mavericks return seven letterwinners and four starters from last season.
• 6-foot-8 center John Karhoff is the leading returning scorer for the Mavericks, he averaged 12.9 points per game last season.
• Nebraska Omaha moves into the Summit League this season, although they will not be eligible for the Summit League or NCAA Tournament until 2015-16.
• The Mavericks Director of Athletics is former Nebraska Cornhuskers Butkus Award winner Trev Alberts.

LAST TIME WE MET
• NIU and Nebraska Omaha met for the first time last season, with the Mavericks earning a 77-72 victory in DeKalb.
Tim Toler scored 25 points and Marquevese Ford added 16 for the Huskies while Mitch Albers led Nebraska Omaha with 26 points. None of the three return for this season’s contest.

AGAINST THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
• Northern Illinois is 41-54 all-time against current members of the Summit League.
• The vast majority of those 95 contests have come against Western Illinois. The Huskies have a 38-50 all-time record against the Leathernecks.
• NIU has not played another Summit League foe more than twice. The Huskies have played UMKC (1-1) and Oakland (2-0) twice, while meeting Nebraska Omaha (0-1), North Dakota State (0-1) and South Dakota State (0-1) once each.

EXHIBITION RECAP
• Northern Illinois defeated Aurora, 89-56, in its lone exhibition game of the season (Nov. 3).
• Six Huskies scored in double figures against the Spartans, led by 12 points from Kevin Gray and Mike Davis.
Keith Gray posted a double-double against Aurora, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.
Akeem Springs and Travon Baker each made their unofficial collegiate debut in the starting lineup. Springs scored 10 points in 19 minutes of action while Baker scored two points and dished out five assists in 20 minutes.
• Also making unofficial debuts were Darrell Bowie (10 points, four rebounds, 24 minutes), Daveon Balls (eight points, four assists, 23 minutes), Sam Mader (eight points, eight rebounds, 20 minutes), J.J. Cravatta (11 points, 18 minutes) and Mike Davis (12 points, 17 minutes).

OF NOTE…
• Northern Illinois did not win a game last season in which the Huskies allowed more than 69 points.
• The Huskies were 3-4 in games decided by five points or less last season.
• NIU did not play an overtime game last season. It’s last overtime contest came on Feb. 26, 2011, a 75-70 victory at Toledo.
• The Huskies shot a better field goal percentage than their opponents in four of their five victories last season. NIU also had a better 3-point shooting percentage than its opponents in all five victories a year ago.
• NIU outrebounded its opponents 18 times last season, including in four of its five wins.

FOR OPENERS
• Last season, in Mark Montgomery’s head coaching debut, NIU lost the season opener at Purdue, 96-34.
• The Huskies will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak in season openers. NIU last won its opener in 2006-07, when the Huskies defeated St. Mary’s (MN), 84-69, at home.

OPENING A BUILDING
• For the second-straight season, Northern Illinois will be a part of the opening of a visiting arena. Friday’s contest will be the first game for Nebraska Omaha at the new Ralston Sports and Event Center.
• Last season, the Huskies opener at Purdue was a part of the rededication of Mackey Arena after a $99.5 million renovation of the facility.

HUSKIES TO TAKE PART IN THE TIP-OFF MARATHON
• Northern Illinois will participate in ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Huskies will play at Valparaiso at 7 a.m. on ESPN.
• The Huskies will be taking part in ESPN’s fifth annual event for the first time. NIU is one of two schools from the MAC, along with Kent State, to compete in this year’s event.
• NIU is one of eight schools playing in the Tip-Off Marathon for the first time, joining: Davidson, Detroit, Harvard, Houston Baptist, New Mexico, Valparaiso and Xavier.
• The full schedule for the Tip-Off Marathon is as follows (all times central):
Monday, Nov. 12
11 p.m. - West Virginia at Gonzaga
Tuesday, Nov. 13
1 a.m. - Davidson at New Mexico
3 a.m. - Houston Baptist at Hawaii
5 a.m. - Stony Brook at Rider
7 a.m. - Northern Illinois at Valparaiso
9 a.m. - Harvard at Massachusetts
11 a.m. - Temple at Kent State
1 p.m. - Detroit at St. John’s
3 p.m. - Butler at Xavier
5 p.m. - College GameDay covered by State Farm (live from the Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Ga.)
6 p.m. - Michigan State vs. Kansas (Champions Classic, Georgia Dome)
Approximately 30 min following MSU/KU - Duke vs. Kentucky (Champions Classic, Georgia Dome)

THE PRESEASON PICKS
• NIU was picked to finish fifth in the MAC West in the preseason conference media poll. Toledo was picked to win the MAC West, followed by Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ball State, NIU and Central Michigan.
• The MAC East was picked to finish as follows: Ohio, Akron, Kent State, Buffalo, Bowling Green and Miami. Ohio was also picked as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament.
Abdel Nader was one of five played named to the West Division Preseason All-MAC Team. Joining Nader are Ball State’s Jesse Berry, Toledo’s Rian Pearson and Julius Brown and Western Michigan’s Nate Hutcheson.

2011-12 SEASON IN REVIEW
• NIU finished the season with a 5-26 record, 3-13 in Mid-American Conference play.
• The Huskies won their first MAC Tournament game since 2003, defeating MAC West Champion Eastern Michigan, 55-52, on the road to advance to Cleveland.
• NIU saw 55.9 percent of its minutes played by freshmen, the sixth-highest percentage in the country.
• Northern Illinois led the MAC in offensive rebounds, ranked second in rebounding defense and was third in rebounding margin.
Abdel Nader was named to the MAC All-Freshmen Team, NIU’s first All-Freshmen honoree since 2009.