Huskies Return to Action Sunday at DePaul

GO HUSKIES Akeem Springs is averaging 11.3 points per game on the road
GO HUSKIES
Akeem Springs is averaging 11.3 points per game on the road
GO HUSKIES

Dec. 14, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (2-6, 0-0 MAC) at DePaul Blue Demons (7-3, 0-0 Big East)
Date / Time: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 / 4 p.m. CT
Site: Allstate Arena • Rosemont, Ill.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: DePaulBlueDemons.com
Live Stats: DePaulBlueDemons.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: DePaul leads 24-6
Last meeting: Dec., 14, 2011 • DePaul 75-52

WHAT’S TRENDING
Akeem Springs is coming off a career-high 21 points and nine rebounds. Springs is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on the road.
Travon Baker is averaging 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.0 assists over the last three games. Baker is also shooting 83.3 percent from the charity stripe in the last five.
Sam Mader has scored in double figures in three of the last four games.
• The Huskies are shooting 46.9 percent (68-of-145) from the field since the start of the second half at Dayton.
Sam Mader has at least one block in four-straight games; Mader leads NIU with 10 blocked shots.
Akeem Springs has at least one 3-point field goal in all eight games this season.
Aksel Bolin has two-or-more steals in five of the last six games.  
Antone Christian has missed the last six games due to a foot injury.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 64.7 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 18.2 percent of the minutes.
• 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.
Sam Mader leads the Huskies in field goal percentage at 51.0 percent.
• Northern Illinois is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 3.8 boards per contest.
• 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 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 (1.55), behind only Arkansas-Little Rock (1.28) and Texas (1.41).
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is ranked second in the MAC at 2.38 steals per game.
Sam Mader ranks sixth in the MAC in field goal percentage (51.0 percent) and 10th in blocked shots (1.25 per game).
Akeem Springs is ranked 20th in the conference in scoring at 11.0 points per game and is tied for 14th in 3-point field goals made with 1.5 per contest.

NEAR AND FAR
• NIU will follow up its shortest road trip of the season, Sunday at DePaul, with its longest when the Huskies travel to Seattle and Washington next week.
• The trip from the NIU Convocation Center to Allstate Arena is just 64 miles while the trip to Key Arena, site of Wednesday’s game at Seattle, is 2,026 miles.

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 DEPAUL
• The Blue Demons return home with a 7-3 record after defeating Arizona State, 78-61, on the road on Wednesday night (Dec. 12).
• Cleveland Melvin leads DePaul averaging 17.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest. Brandon Young also scores in double figures at 16.9 points per contest.
• DePaul is averaging 77.2 points per game and is forcing its opponents into 17.0 turnovers per contest.
• Oliver Purnell is in his third season at DePaul, and 25th overall season as a head coach. Purnell’s previous head coaching stops were: Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• DePaul leads the all-time series against NIU, 24-6.
• The Huskies and Blue Demons have split the last four meetings with each school recording a win at home and a win on the road.
• The two schools have met in each of the last two seasons with the Blue Demons winning each game – 86-84 on Dec. 2, 2010 in Rosemont and 75-52 on Dec. 14, 2011 in DeKalb.
• NIU’s last win in the series was a 77-68 triumph on Nov. 28, 2005 in DeKalb; its last road win was an 84-69 victory on Nov. 27, 2004.
• DePaul holds a 9-1 edge in the series in games played at the Allstate Arena.

THE JAY GOEDART MEMORIAL MVP AWARD
• Given to the most valuable player of games in the NIU-DePaul series, the Jay Goedart Memorial MVP Award honors Elgin native Jay Goedart, who was an assistant coach at both Northern Illinois (1985-87) and DePaul (1987-97).
• Goedart died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 44.
• The Goedart MVP Award was first awarded to NIU’s Todd Peterson after his 15 point performance in an 84-69 Huskie victory in 2004.
• The other recipients of the Goedart Award have been NIU’s James Hughes (2005) and Tony Freeland (2010) and Brandon Young (2011) of DePaul.

THE LAST MEETING
• DePaul earned a 75-52 victory last season (Dec. 14, 2011) at the NIU Convocation Center.
• NIU led 33-32 with 16:34 to play before DePaul went on a 17-0 run.
• DePaul’s Brandon Young earned the Jay Goedart Memorial Outstanding Player award with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Tim Toler led NIU with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
• Four Blue Demons scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Cleveland Melvin.

AGAINST THE BIG EAST
• The Huskies are 9-39 all-time against current members of the Big East Conference.
• 30 of NIU’s 48 games against the Big East have come against DePaul; the others came against Marquette (7), Cincinnati (4), Notre Dame (4), South Florida (2) and St. John’s (1).

UW MILWAUKEE RECAP
• The Huskies opened their four-game road trip with an 80-73 overtime loss at UW Milwaukee (Dec. 7).
• The contest was the first overtime game of the Mark Montgomery era, the first for NIU since Feb. 26, 2011 (a 75-70 win at Toledo).
Abdel Nader made his season debut against the Panthers, scoring 17 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Akeem Springs scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed a career-best nine rebounds.
• NIU held UW Milwaukee without a field goal for the final 8:25 of regulation, the Panthers made 10 free throws during that stretch.
• NIU’s 73 field goal attempts was the most by the Huskies during Mark Montgomery’s tenure
• The Huskies grabbed a season-high 21 offensive rebounds against the Panthers.
• Four Huskies, Travon Baker (30), Aksel Bolin (36), Sam Mader (35) and Akeem Springs (31), posted new career-highs for minutes against the Panthers.

SIU EDWARDSVILLE RECAP
• Northern Illinois earned a 65-54 victory over SIU Edwardsville on Wednesday night.
Aksel Bolin scored a career-high 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
• NIU had three players in double figures for the second time this season -- Aksel Bolin 15, Sam Mader 11, Travon Baker 10.
• The Huskies shot a season-best 52.0 percent (26-of-50) against the Cougars.
Sam Mader dished out a career-high four assists and scored in double figures for the third time.
Travon Baker finished with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
• A crowd of 2,750 was in attendance for the game and Orange Bowl Pep Rally, the largest crowd for a men’s basketball game since the 2010-11 season opener against Northwestern (4,001).
• The NIU bench outscored SIUE’s bench, 20-0.

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. The Huskies went 41 games between overtime contests from Feb. 26, 2011 to Dec. 7, 2012.
• 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.

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.