NIU Men's Basketball Returns to Action Tuesday Against UIC



Dec. 13, 2010

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NIU (2-3) vs. UIC (4-6)
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010 | 7 p.m. (CT)
DeKalb, Ill. | NIU Convocation Center | 9,100

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Viewing NIU-UIC
The Northern Illinois game versus UIC can be seen online through the Huskies All-Access subscription package at The live video stream will be accompanied by the NIU radio call.           

NIU-UIC on Radio
On radio, fans can listen to the Northern Illinois-UIC game on the Huskies' flagship station, WLBK AM 1360 in DeKalb.  The Northern Illinois Radio Network presented by IMG College broadcast kicks off with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m. (CT).  Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker is in his 31st season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by Casey Kahler, in his fifth year as NIU's color analyst. 

"NIU Live" Radio Show
Each week, join NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, host Andy Garcia and Northern Illinois coaches, including men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton, for "NIU Live" on WSCR 670 AM The Score in Chicago.  The 30-minute show features a weekly update with Huskie basketball coaches, as well as interviews with other NIU coaches and all the latest news from Northern Illinois athletics.

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NIU News and Notes

The Match-Up
Following a 12-day break for finals, Northern Illinois returns to action on Tuesday night as it hosts Illinois-Chicago at the NIU Convocation Center, tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Huskies enter Tuesday's contest with a 2-4 overall record, last time out NIU dropped a narrow 86-84 decision at DePaul on Dec. 2. Xavier Silas continues to lead NIU, and the Mid-American Conference, in scoring averaging 26.3 points per game. Catch the Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network broadcast of the game on WLBK AM 1360 in DeKalb.

About Illinois-Chicago
The Flames, under the direction of first-year head coach Howard Moore, come to DeKalb with a 4-6 overall record. UIC lost its last contest, 53-43, on Saturday (Dec. 11) at Illinois State. Robo Kreps is leading the Flames in scoring, averaging 15.6 points per game, Minnesota-transfer Paul Carter is also scoring in double figures at 14.6 points per contest while also leading UIC in rebounding at 8.3 boards per game.

Last Time Out
Xavier Silas scored a career-high-tying 34 points as NIU dropped a heartbreaking 86-84 contest at DePaul on Dec. 2. The Huskies fell behind by as many as 17 points in the first half before rallying to nearly pull out the victory.

Against the Flames
Illinois-Chicago holds a 21-14 lead in the all-time series against Northern Illinois. The two schools met last season in Chicago (Dec. 19, 2009) with the Flames earning a 69-49 victory. The last meeting in DeKalb between the two schools came on Dec. 5, 2006, a 71-48 win for UIC. NIU has dropped six of its last seven contests against UIC.

All-time Versus the Horizon League
NIU had an 80-94 record all-time against current members of the Horizon League. Illinois-Chicago is the most-common opponent for NIU from the Horizon League (14-21), followed by Loyola-Chicago (16-16) and Wisconsin-Green Bay (5-24). Valparaiso is the only member of the 10-team conference that NIU has never played.

Huskies at Home
Northern Illinois is 1-2 at home in 2010-11.  After falling in the season opener to Northwestern Nov. 12, NIU came back to defeat Cardinal Stritch 81-57 on Nov. 21 before losing to Boise State Nov. 29.  The Huskies posted a 7-7 record at the Convocation Center a year ago as all but three of Northern Illinois' wins on the season came at home.  In three-plus seasons under Ricardo Patton, NIU is 18-22 in games played in DeKalb with a 7-5 record in 2008-09 and a 5-8 mark in Patton's first season in 2007-08.  

A Better November
For the second straight season, Northern Illinois earned its second win of the year over Maryland Eastern Shore (Nov. 24).  A year ago, the win versus the Fighting Hawks did not come until December 22. This year, the Huskies reach their second win nearly a month earlier than they did in 2009. In addition, NIU did not pick up its first road win of 2009-10 until January 6 with a win over Chicago State. The UMES win gives the Huskies their first road win of the season more than a month earlier than last year.

Silas Starts Strong
After finishing the 2009-10 campaign as the MAC's No. 2 scorer with 19.7 points per game, Northern Illinois senior Xavier Silas is scoring at an even faster pace this season. The Texas native is averaging 26.3 points per game to lead the Mid-American Conference and rank second among the national leaders in scoring, behind Connecticut's Kemba Walker (28.1 ppg). Silas has scored a carer-high 34 points three times this season, including last time out at DePaul (Dec. 2). In his Huskie career,   Silas has scored in double figures 27 times in 31 games played.  He scored 493 points in 2009-10 despite missing five games due to a hand injury suffered in the season opener and has 158 points already this season.

On Target
Silas' scoring increase has not come with more shots, but through hitting a higher percentage of his shots.  So far in the early-going, Silas has made 58.8 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 51.6 percent clip.  Those percentages are far ahead of his 38.3 and 32.1 percent marks for field goals and three-pointers made, respectively, a year ago.   The Huskie records for single season percentages are 58.9 (overall) and 48.9 (threes).

MAC Honors
NIU senior Xavier Silas gathered the first two Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honors of the season.  Silas scored 56 points in the Huskies' games against Bradley and Cardinal Stritch Nov. 16 and 21 to earn the initial award.  Silas scored a career-high 34 points in just 24 minutes of action versus Cardinal Stritch as he made 11-of-17 field goals overall and six-of-nine shots from three-point range. The Austin, Texas native scored 22 points in just 25 minutes in the Huskies' 66-63 loss at Bradley while hitting seven of his 11 field goal attempts and all six of his free throws.  He added six rebounds in that game and totaled 10 for the week.  In the two games, Silas shot 64.3 percent from the field (18-of-28) and 57.1 percent from three-point range (57.1 percent).  In NIU's lone game during the week of Nov. 22-28, Silas tied his career-high for the second straight game to garner the honor again in an 86-80 win at Maryland Eastern Shore Nov. 24.  While scoring 34 points, he added a season-high three assists and tied a season-best with six rebounds.  Silas' points came on 12-of-16 shooting as he established a new career high for field goals made in a game and went 4-for-5 on three-pointers.

Streak Stopped
NIU senior Xavier Silas started the season a perfect 28-of-28 from the free throw line before recording his first miss at Maryland Eastern Shore.  Silas made 42 straight free throws dating back to last year's penultimate game versus Toledo (March 4, 2010) before missing three of his last five free throws versus UMES.  Silas' made his last nine free throws versus Toledo last year, beginning with 31 seconds left in the first half.  He then hit all five of his tries in the MAC Tournament first-round game at Eastern Michigan. This year, he went 12-of-12 from the line versus Northwestern and hit all six of his tries at Bradley and versus Stritch, then made his first four free throws in Maryland.  Since missing his last attempt, Silas went 4-for-4 against Boise State.  The Northern Illinois record for consecutive free throws made in a season is 33 (by Todd Peterson in 2005-06); there is no record for consecutive free throws made in a career.    

Hall Lends a Hand
Junior Bryan Hall has cemented his spot as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling, especially over the last four games.  In NIU's last four contests, Hall has distributed 20 assists and racked up seven steals while committing just two turnovers in 93 minutes.  He currently ranks first in the MAC in assist to turnover ratio with a 2.89 mark.  After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall has 26 assists already this season to rank fifth in the league in assists per game (4.33).   He had five assists without a turnover versus Cardinal Stritch and recorded a career-high seven assists versus just one turnover at Maryland Eastern Shore.  He added three assists with one turnover versus Boise State and scored a career-best 10 points before recording five assists with no turnovers last time out against DePaul.

Here's Aksel
While his fellow freshmen Nate Rucker and Kyree Jones have made their marks in different ways already this year, the Huskies' Aksel Bolin had a quiet debut (12 total minutes in first two games) until breaking out for 10 points in 17 minutes of action at Maryland Eastern Shore. Bolin hit double-digits in the scoring column for the first time in his career and added his first two assists and blocks. He went six-of-six from the free throw line.  In 17 minutes against Boise State, he remained perfect at the free-throw line, going 2-for-2.

Silas a Senior CLASS Candidate
Xavier Silas has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's basketball.  The award honors seniors playing Division I basketball who have demonstrated high achievement in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition throughout their collegiate careers. 

Charity Stripe Turnaround
A year ago, Northern Illinois shot just 64.6 percent from the free throw line as eight of NIU's 12 players with more than two attempts on the season hit less than 60 percent from the line. The Huskies ranked 290th in the country and 11th in the MAC in free throw percentage, despite Xavier Silas' 81.1 percent mark.  So far in 2010-11, the Huskies have turned that performance around. Four Huskies have hit all of their free throws (Toler, Nixon, Bolin, Storm), while Silas' 42-of-47 made is good for 89.4 percent. Silas ranks second in the league in free throw percentage as Northern Illinois is third in the MAC's team rankings at 71.6 percent (101-of-141).       

Newest Huskies
Northern Illinois signed a pair of players for 2011-12 on Nov. 10. Zach Miller, a 5-9 guard from Glenbard East High School in Chicago, and DeAndre Barnette, a 6-4 wing from Liberty Tech in Jackson, Tenn., inked with the Huskies following successful junior seasons at their respective schools and equally as impressive summers. Miller helped lead the Rams to the Class 4A sectional final as a junior as he averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 steals and 7.2 assists per game.  He was the DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year.  Barnette led Liberty Tech to the Tennessee Class 2A title game and was named to the all-tournament team at the state tourney.

Challenging Slate
Northern Illinois will face six opponents that played in the 2010 postseason with games against NCAA Tournament participants Temple (Dec. 18), Missouri (Dec. 27) and Ohio (Feb. 5) along with National Invitation Tournament (NIT) teams Kent State (Feb. 12) and Northwestern. Akron earned a trip to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last year.

Starting Fives
NIU Head Coach Ricardo Patton has used three different starting line-ups in the Huskies' six games with Xavier Silas, Nate Rucker and Tim Toler the constants in all six contests. The trio has been joined by Bryan Hall in five of the six games and by Jeremy Landers three times, while Michael Patton has two starts, and Tony Nixon and Kyree Jones have each made one start. 

Looking Ahead
Following Tuesday's contest, Northern Illinois returns to the road for its next three, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 18, when it travels to Philadelphia, Pa., to take on Temple. NIU will not return home to the Convocation Center until Friday, Dec. 31, when it hosts Utah Valley at 1 p.m.



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