Huskies, Minnesota Collide on the Big Ten Network Tuesday Night

GO HUSKIES Bryan Hall
GO HUSKIES
Bryan Hall
GO HUSKIES

Dec. 14, 2009

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NORTHERN ILLINOIS (1-5) AT MINNESOTA (7-3) » December 15, 2009 » Williams Arena » Minneapolis, Minn. » 7 p.m.

Match-Up At-a-Glance
Arena: Williams Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Central Standard Time
Radio: Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network (Flagship WLBK, 1360, DeKalb)
Television: Big Ten Network (Wayne Larrivee/Tim Doyle)
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com/GopherSports.com (Live Stats)
Social Media Coverage: Twitter.com/NIUAthletics; Twitter.com/MACMBBall
Series Record/Streak: Minnesota leads, 4-0/L4

DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois (1-5) will be playing its third Big Ten Conference road game of the non-conference season when the Huskies take on host Minnesota at Williams Arena Tuesday beginning at 7 p.m. The contest will be televised on the Big Ten Network, marking the Huskies' fifth television appearance this season.

Northern Illinois has been idle for the last 12 days after taking a break for first-semester final exams. The Huskies began the month of December with a 63-49 loss versus visiting Bradley at the Convocation Center (Dec. 2). Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson surpassed the 900-career point plateau with a game-high 18 points, and the Huskies enjoyed a one-point halftime lead, but Bradley shot 68 percent from the field in the second half to record its fifth win of the season.

The Golden Gophers have played three games since the last time Northern Illinois took the court, and are in the middle of a six-game homestand. Minnesota enters Tuesday's game with a 7-3 record, and is 6-0 at home this season.

NEXT UP ...
Northern Illinois will play its second-of three road games in the Chicagoland region Saturday, when the Huskies travel to the Windy City to take on Illinois-Chicago at the UIC Pavilion beginning at 3 p.m. The Flames are 1-6 on the season after dropping an 77-56 decision at home versus DePaul on Sunday. UIC has dropped six-straight overall, but has not played at home since Nov. 23.

GAME DATA
Northern Illinois and Minnesota will be meeting for the first time since the 1990-91 season, and for the fourth time in Minneapolis ... The Huskies have three Big Ten Conference foes on the schedule this season, having already faced Northwestern (11/13/09) and Illinois (11/17/09) on the road ... Minnesota represents one-of NIU's five opponents that advanced to last season's NCAA Tournament ... Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton will be going head-to-head versus Minnesota mentor Tubby Smith for the second time -- when Patton was the head coach at Colorado, and Smith was the mentor at Kentucky, the Wildcats outlasted Colorado, 64-52 (11/26/98) in San Juan, Puerto Rico ... Prior to this season, NIU had not faced a Big Ten Conference opponent since Dec. 16, 2006, when the Huskies played host Michigan at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. ... NIU's lone road win over a Big Ten opponent took place on Dec. 1, 1970 at Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. ... Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson, who passed the 900-point plateau on Dec. 2 versus Bradley, enters Tuesday's game with 298 career field goals, and is just two buckets away from equaling 300 for his career ... Sophomore guard Mike DiNunno, who has come off the bench in each of the last two contests, enters the Minnesota game with 392 career points, and 91 career assists.

WITH A WIN, NIU WOULD ...
» Pick up its first road win of the season
» Record its first victory over a Big Ten Conference foe since Dec. 14, 1999 (a 55-51 home win over Wisconsin)
» Capture its first-ever win over Minnesota

WITH A LOSS, NIU WOULD ...
» Drop its 39th road game in the last 44 tries, dating back to the 2006-07 season
» Fall to 0-5 on the season versus 2009 postseason teams
» Fall to 1-31 all-time on the road versus Big Ten Conference foes

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Northern Illinois enters Tuesday's game with a 1-5 overall record, and has dropped three-straight contests. The Huskies have played four teams that appeared in the postseason following the 2008-09 season, including two that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. NIU is 0-3 on the road in the early going, falling to hosts Northwestern (11/13/09), Illinois (11/17/09) and Northern Iowa (11/28/09). In games away from home, the Huskies are averaging 53.7 points, 35.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists per contest, while shooting 36.7 percent from the field, 20.7 percent from three-point range, and 54.3 percent from the free throw line.

Through six games, the Huskies are being led offensively by juniors Darion "Jake" Anderson (12.8 ppg) and Sean Kowal (9.7 ppg). Anderson, a 6-foot-2 guard, also ranks second in the Mid-American Conference in rebounding, at 8.7 caroms per game. Both Kowal and Anderson have posted one double-double this season.

NIU is averaging 59.8 points per game, and holding its opponents to a 66.5 points per contest. The Huskies are shooting 39.3 percent from the field, 23.9 percent from three-point range and 53.2 percent from the free throw line.

ABOUT THE MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Minnesota, under the second-year leadership of head coach Tubby Smith, enters Tuesday's game with a 7-3 record, and has won three-straight games. The Golden Gophers are 6-0 at Williams Arena this season, and have scored at least 91 points in each of their last three home contests.

Two Minnesota players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Lawrence Westbrook's 12.8 points per game. In the Gophers' past three games, junior guard Blake Hoffarber has led the team in scoring, including a 20-point output in a 97-74 win over St. Joseph's on Saturday. Minnesota is averaging 78.8 points per game, and allowing their opponents to score 59.9 points per contest. The Golden Gophers are shooting 47.5 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from three-point range and 66.2 percent from the free throw line.

VERSUS THE BIG TEN
Northern Illinois has recorded a 6-38 all-time record versus opponents affiliated with the Big Ten Conference. The Huskies are 0-1 versus Illinois, 1-3 against Indiana, 0-5 all-time versus Iowa, 0-3 against Michigan, 1-0 versus Michigan State, 0-4 against Minnesota, 2-8 versus Northwestern, 0-1 against Ohio State, 0-1 versus Purdue and 2-12 all-time against Wisconsin.

ALL-TIME VERSUS MINNESOTA
As mentioned, Minnesota leads the all-time series against Northern Illinois, 4-0. The Golden Gophers have won those contests by an average of 18 points per game, including a 65-37 win in the last game meeting between the two programs, on Dec. 1, 1990. Minnesota's lone visit to DeKalb, Ill., was on Dec. 23, 1988, when the Gophers recorded a 93-74 win at Chick Evans Field House.

SILAS DAY-TO-DAY AFTER BEING CLEARED FOR FULL-CONTACT ACTIVITIES
Junior guard Xavier Silas, who fractured the second metacarpal bone on his right hand in Northern Illinois' season opener at Northwestern (11/13/09) and has been sidelined for the past five games, was cleared for full contact activities last Thursday (12/10/09), and has participated in three practice sessions since. Silas is listed as day-to-day as he works his way back into game shape, and is questionable for Tuesday's game at Minnesota.

THE ART OF BACKCOURT REBOUNDING
Junior Darion "Jake" Anderson, one of the Mid-American Conference's most consistent scorers the past two seasons, has seen his scoring average dip by more than four points per game this season, but has been on a tear in the rebounding department. The 6-foot-2 guard enters Tuesday's game ranked second in the MAC in rebounding, averaging 8.7 caroms per game through six contests. Anderson has posted three double-digit rebounding outputs, including back-to-back career-high efforts of 13 rebounds against Tennessee State (11/20/09) and Southeast Missouri (11/22/09). Anderson's rebounding prowess started to become evident last season, when he led the Huskies in rebounding, (5.4 rpg), becoming just the third NIU guard in the Division I era to accomplish that feat.

CONSISTENCY ACROSS THE BOARD
Darion "Jake" Anderson, the Huskies' leader this season in points (77), rebounds per game (8.7), assists per game (3.0), free throw percentage (.737) and minutes played (30.8), enters Tuesday's game as the only player in the Mid-American Conference to be ranked in the individual top-15 in scoring, rebounding and assists. Anderson scored a season-high 23 points versus Southeast Missouri (11/22/09), dished out a season-best six assists against Tennessee State (11/20/09), and as mentioned, twice tied his career-high with 13 rebounds -- he also corralled 10 rebounds at Illinois (11/17/09) in the second game of the season. Anderson is the Huskies' career active leader in points (910), rebounds (353), assists (162), steals (74), field goals (298), three-point field goals (71) and free throws (243) made, and total minutes played (1,931/30.7 mpg).

FAST START FOR Bryan Hall
Sophomore point guard Bryan Hall, who has started the past two games, entered his sophomore campaign known as much more of a facilitator than a scorer -- he ended his freshman season with just 41 points on only 40 field goal attempts. But this season, he has been much more aggressive on the offensive end. Hall has recorded two of his top-three career scoring outputs, and has done so in impressively efficient fashion. He is shooting 66.7 percent (12-of-18) from the field, which would rank as the fifth-best single season effort by an NIU player if the statistic would hold up at the end of the 2009-10 campaign.

STEALIN' THE SHOW
The Huskies finished the 2008-09 season with 239 steals, which was the second-highest single-season total in program history, trailing just the 259 steals recorded during the 1994-95 campaign. NIU's 8.0 steal per game average was also the third-best total for a single-season. Darion "Jake" Anderson (46 steals) and Mike DiNunno (44) combined for 90 steals, with both efforts ranking in the top-15 individual marks in NIU history. This season, NIU is averaging 6.7 steals per game, which would qualify as the 13th-best single-season average in program history.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE
Northern Illinois' junior tandem of Darion "Jake" Anderson and Sean Kowal have each posted one double-double in the early going this season. Anderson's fifth-career double-double (23 points, 13 rebounds) came against Southeast Missouri on Nov. 22, while Kowal secured his third-career double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the previous contest versus Tennessee State (Nov. 20). Kowal nearly tallied his second-straight double-double against SEMO, falling just one rebound short with 14 points and nine caroms.

Anderson ranks in the top-15 of the MAC in scoring, rebounding and assists.


GONE IN 60 SECONDS
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 (.581) and redshirt sophomore Michael Fakuade (.583) are both shooting near 60 percent from the field for their careers. Notably, power forward Najul Ervin is shooting 50.3 percent (80-of-159) in his third season at NIU.

NIXON'S INSTANT IMPACT
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 five games, and recorded respective season-high scoring outputs of 10 and 16 points against Illinois (Nov. 17) and Tennessee State (Nov. 20). Nixon is also averaging 26.5 minutes per game, third-highest on the team.

SEASON #15 FOR COACH "P"
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.

FIRST-HALF SUCCESS IS KEY
As the old cliche' goes, it's not how you start, but how you finish. But how it starts may be just as important for the Northern Illinois basketball team. Under head coach Ricardo Patton, when the Huskies lead at halftime, they have compiled a record of 14-6. When NIU trails at intermission, it is just 2-39 the past two-plus seasons.

CONTROLLING THE BOARDS
When Northern Illinois has been on the positive side of the rebounding ledger the past two seasons, it has enjoyed significant success. Sixteen of the Huskies' 17 wins under head coach Ricardo Patton have occurred when NIU has out-rebounded its opponent.

HUSKIES PICKED SECOND IN MAC-WEST
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.

BACK IN CARDINAL AND BLACK
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).

 

 

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