Huskies Host Southeast Missouri in Sunday Afternoon Matinee

GO HUSKIES Sean Kowal tallied his third career double-double Friday vs. TSU.
Sean Kowal tallied his third career double-double Friday vs. TSU.

Nov. 21, 2009

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (1-2) VS. SOUTHEAST MISSOURI (0-2) » November 22, 2009 » Convocation Center » DeKalb, Ill. » 3:30 p.m.

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Arena (Capacity): Convocation Center (9,100)
Tip-off: 3:30 p.m. Central Standard Time
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (Flagship WLBK, 1360, DeKalb)
Television: None
Live Video: (Huskie All-Access)
Live Stats: (Gametracker)
Social Media Coverage:;
Series Record/Streak: Northern Illinois leads, 1-0

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois (1-2) will look to secure its second win in just three days, when the Huskies host Southeast Missouri State (0-2) of the Ohio Valley Conference at the Convocation Center Sunday beginning at 3:30 p.m. The game represents a return contest from the 2009 ESPNU BracketBusters series.

The Huskies are coming off Friday's 85-57 victory over visiting Tennessee State, marking NIU's first victory of the season. Junior center Sean Kowal recorded the third double-double of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds; classmate Darion "Jake" Anderson added nine points with a career-high 13 rebounds and guard Tony Nixon, making his second-straight start in place of the injured Xavier Silas, scored a season and career-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno added 11 points, all in the first half, to break out of his early season shooting struggles. Tennessee State was led by freshman guard Jacquan Nobles, who scored 21 points on five three-pointers.

Northern Illinois shot 54.4 percent (31-57) from the field, and held the Tigers to just a 35 percent (21-60) shooting effort for the game. NIU hit 10 three-pointers, and held a decisive 47-32 rebounding advantage. The 28-point win marked the largest margin of victory in the Ricardo Patton era at NIU.

Northern Illinois will be idle for the next five days, before heading to Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Nov. 28 to take on 2009 Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament champion Northern Iowa. The Panthers are off to a 2-1 start this season. Game time will be announced Sunday afternoon. If the UNI football team hosts a first-round FCS playoff game, the basketball game will begin at 12:05 p.m. If UNI hits the road for the first-round, the basketball game, from the McLeod Center, will tip-off at 7:05 p.m.

Northern Illinois has played just eight games since the last time it went head-to-head with Southeast Missouri State (Feb. 21, 2009) at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo. ... Head coach Ricardo Patton owns a 13-12 home record as the NIU mentor, and last season, led the Huskies to their first winning record (7-5) at home since the 2005-06 campaign ... Northern Illinois is 39-39 at the Convocation Center since playing its first game at the facility on Nov. 23, 2002 ... The Huskies have compiled an 18-10 record against non-conference opposition at the Convocation Center over those seven seasons ... NIU and Southeast Missouri State share two common opponents this season, Eastern Michigan and Tennessee State ... SEMO is just the third Ohio Valley Conference foe to visit the Convocation Center since the inception of the facility (joining Eastern Illinois on Nov. 22, 2003), but the second in three days ... Junior center Sean Kowal, who posted his third-career double-double versus Tennessee State Friday night, may be poised to record a double-double in back-to-back games for the first time in his career Sunday: against SEMO last season, Kowal poured in 21 points and had 13 rebounds.

» Improve to 52-46 all-time versus schools from the Ohio Valley Conference
» Win its fifth-straight home game, dating back to Feb. 15, 2009
» Improve to 2-0 all-time versus Southeast Missouri State
» Start out 2-2 for the second-consecutive season

» Have its four-game home winning streak snapped
» Lose its third home game versus a non-conference opponent in the past four outings
» Drop to 39-40 all-time at the Convocation Center

Southeast Missouri State, under the leadership of first-year head coach Dickey Nutt, is located in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and has a total enrollment of 10,859. As mentioned, the Redhawks are NCAA Division I affiliates, and members of the Ohio Valley Conference.

SEMO finished the 2008-09 season with a 3-27 (0-18 OVC) record, and finished 10th in the regular season OVC standings. The Redhawks went 0-15 on the road. This season, SEMO is off to an 0-2 start after dropping respective double-digit decisions at Saint Louis (59-41 on Nov. 14) and versus Arkansas State (73-49), where Nutt served as the head coach for 13 seasons.

SEMO returned just four letterwinners, but three starters, from last season. Nutt welcomed 11 newcomers to the mix, including six junior college transfers.

Northern Illinois owns a 51-46 all-time record against current foes affiliated with the Ohio Valley Conference. The Huskies are 44-42 versus Eastern Illinois, dropped their lone all-time meeting against Eastern Kentucky, are 1-1 all-time against Morehead State, won their lone game against Samford (1-0), have a 2-0 all-time lead over Tennessee Tech, and are 2-2 all-time versus Tennessee State after Friday's 85-57 win. The Huskies improved to 1-0 all-time versus Southeast Missouri State with last season's 97-73 victory in Cape Girardeau.

Playing just over 100 miles from his hometown of St. Louis, sophomore center Sean Kowal recorded his second double-double of the season with 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, leading the Northern Illinois men's basketball team to a convincing 97-73 win over host Southeast Missouri State at the Show Me Center on Feb. 21, 2009.

The victory gave the Huskies their first-ever win in the ESPNU BracketBuster series. NIU's 97 points marked a season-high mark in scoring, and the Huskies' 13 three-point field goals were also a season-best effort. The Huskies also set season-highs in rebounds (49), steals (15) and field goal attempts (77).

Kowal's 21 points led a foursome of Huskies scoring in double figures, followed by Darion "Jake" Anderson (18), Mike DiNunno (16) and Sean Smith (11). SEMO was led by Kenard Moore's 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting. NIU jumped out to a 19-4 lead at the first media timeout, and never looked back in cruising to its largest margin of victory on the season.

Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton puts new meaning to the word "confines" when it comes to a home-court advantage. The third-year Huskie mentor owns a 141-60 (.701 winning percentage) home record as a college head coach, dating back to his 12-year run at Colorado. Thirteen of Patton's 16 wins at NIU have occurred at the Convocation Center.

Junior center Sean Kowal led the Mid-American Conference in field goal percentage (.551) last season, but as all players do, he needs an occasional breather. The good thing for NIU head coach Ricardo Patton is that NIU doesn't take much of a step back when his reserves enter the game. Senior Ante Dzepina (.592) and redshirt sophomore Michael Fakuade (.587), who are averaging 7.3 and 8.3 minutes per game, respectively, are both shooting near 60 percent from the field for their careers. Notably, starting power forward Najul Ervin is shooting exactly 50 percent (76-of-152) in his two-plus career at NIU.

Juniors Sean Kowal and Michael Patton both achieved significant milestones against Tennessee State Friday, with each passing the 300-point plateau for their respective careers. Kowal's 18 points on the way to a double-double gives him 308 points at NIU, and Patton 2-for-2 effort from three-point range pushed his career total to 304 points.

Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson enters Sunday's game against SEMO averaging a MAC second-best 10.3 rebounds per game after NIU's first three contests, and has paced the Huskies in that category in each of those outings. While those numbers may not hold up at the end of the season (it would be 4.9 more rebounds than Anderson averaged last year), his rebounding prowess is certainly significant. Anderson led the Huskies in rebounding last season (5.4 rpg), becoming just the third NIU guard in the Division I era to accomplish that feat.

One year after being picked to finish sixth in the Mid-American Conference West Division, Northern Illinois was slotted second in the 2009-10 preseason media poll, as announced by the conference office on Oct. 28. In addition, junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson was named to the preseason West Division All-MAC team for the second-consecutive season. The Huskies were picked second behind division favorite Central Michigan, who swept NIU last season.

In its college basketball preview edition, Sporting News went one step further. The publication tabbed NIU to capture the West Division title, ahead of CMU, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Toledo.

In the 2009-10 season, the Huskies will field a roster with nine Illinois natives, including eight players from the Chicagoland region. True sophomores Mike DiNunno and Bryan Hall, redshirt freshman Keith Smith, along with redshirt sophomore Michael Fakuade and junior Darion "Jake" Anderson, all hail from the Windy City. Redshirt sophomore Lee Fisher is a Dolton, Ill., native, while freshman newcomer Tony Nixon hails from South Holland, Ill., and Justin Peaster is an Aurora, Ill., product.

Mike DiNunno

Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton will be embarking on his 15th season as a Division I head coach in the 2009-10 campaign. After spending 12 years as the mentor at Colorado, Patton was hired as the Huskies' 26th head coach on March 19, 2007.

In 2009-10, Northern Illinois returns 88 percent of its scoring, 79 percent of its rebounding and 87 percent of its assist totals from the 2008-09 season. The Huskies return 12 letterwinners, including four starters, and back are the Huskies' top-three scorers (Darion "Jake Anderson, 16.9 ppg; Mike DiNunno, 11.9 ppg and Sean Kowal, 9.4 ppg).

Northern Illinois junior guard Xavier Silas suffered a fractured right hand during the Huskies' season-opening game at Northwestern (Nov. 13), and will miss at least two weeks of action. The injury will not require surgery, but Silas' hand will be placed in a removable splint. He will be re-evaluated Dec. 1 before a return date to the Huskie lineup is set.

Freshman guard Tony Nixon, the lone member of Ricardo Patton's 2009-10 recruiting class, has wasted no time getting adjusted to college basketball. The 6-4, 200-pounder has started each of the last two games, and recorded respective scoring outputs of 10 and 16 points against Illinois (Nov. 17) and Tennessee State (Nov. 20). Nixon is also shooting nearly 41 percent (.407) from the field in a team-high 28.3 minutes per game. His 2.33 three-point field goals made per game ranked eighth in the MAC at the conclusion of Friday's slate of games.

Darion "Jake" Anderson, the 2008 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year and a 2009 second-team All-MAC performer, returns for his junior season after ranking fourth in the MAC in scoring (16.9 ppg), 12th in rebounding (5.4 rpg), 15th in assists per game (2.41), 15th in free throw percentage (.472), seventh in steals per game (1.58), eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.371), 10th in three-point field goals per game (1.59), 10th in defensive rebounds (4.17 rpg) and 11th in minutes played (31.2 mpg) last season. He was a four-time MAC-West Player of the Week, posted 25 double-digit scoring outputs and led the Huskies in scoring on 17 occasions.

Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman Team last season after leading all league freshmen in scoring (12.3 ppg), assists (2.62 apg), free throw percentage (.732), three-point field goals made per game (1.93) and minutes played (29.34 mpg). He ended the campaign tied for 11th in the MAC in steals per game (1.47), and was ranked fourth in the league in three-point field goals made per game (1.97). DiNunno recorded 18 double-digit scoring outputs, including seven in conference play, and led NIU in both assists (76) and three-pointers (56).

In just his first full season of college basketball, junior center Sean Kowal led the Mid-American Conference in field goal percentage (.551). In an average of 25.9 minutes per game, he scored 9.4 points, corralled 5.2 rebounds and tallied 0.8 blocks per contest. Kowal posted 15 double-digit scoring efforts, and recorded two doubles-doubles on the season.



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