DeKalb, Ill. - Northern Illinois (3-5) looks to get back on the winning track on Wednesday evening, as the Huskies travel to the Lone Star State to face off with Lamar for a 7:05 p.m. (CST) tip-off at the Montagne Center in Beaumont, Texas. The Huskies have dropped their last five contests after opening the season, 3-0.
THE COACHES -- Rob Judson is in his sixth season at the helm of the NIU men's basketball team, and has a career-record of 70-83, including last season's Mid-American Conference West Division championship. Lamar head coach Steve Roccaforte is in his first year of coaching and has led the Cardinals to a mark of 4-7 this season.
THE SERIES -- Lamar owns a 3-2 advantage over the Huskies in their all-time series. In their last meeting, the Cardinals, behind a game-high 21 points from Anthony Murphy, earned the 91-53 triumph over the Huskies in Normal, Ill., on December 19, 1998. NIU senior Burton Anderson led the Huskies with 15 points and seven rebounds.
ROAD WARRIORS -- Wednesday's contest against Lamar marks the fourth game of a seven-game road swing, marking the Huskies' longest stretch away from DeKalb since 1978-79. The Huskies will travel through Iowa, Michigan, Texas and New York in that span.
SCOUTING LAMAR -- Lamar is coming off of a heartbreaking 69-64 loss at the hands of Wyoming on Saturday (Dec. 16) afternoon. Cardinals' guard Darren Hopkins led Lamar with 18 points, while teammate James Davis added 17 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
SHOOTING STROKE -- Senior center James Hughes is currently the school-record holder for career field-goal percentage, as the Silvis, Ill., native has converted 58.2% (321-for-552) of his career field-goal attempts.
NOT PARADISE -- Junior point guard Ryan Paradise has not played in the last four games with a yet-to-be determined illness that is still being evaluated.
FILLING IN HIS SHOES -- In Paradise's absence, both sophomore Quintan Lipkins and freshman Cody Yelder have performed admirably in his stead as both point guards have combined to shoot 49.1% (26-for-53) from the field, 5.3 rebounds and 16.3 points-per-game in the Huskies' last four contests.
PASS HAPPY -- In just eight games, NIU junior swingman Ben Rand has already past his assist mark of 34 from a year ago, as the Rochelle, Ill., native is currently tied for fourth in the MAC (as of Dec. 18) with 4.4 assists-per-game with 35 helpers on the season. As a team, NIU is second in the MAC with 18 assists-per-game.
SPREADING THE WEALTH -- Just eight games into the season and the Huskies have had four different players lead the team in scoring as seniors Mike McKinney, James Hughes, junior Zach Pancratz and sophomore Quintan Lipkins have all led NIU in tallies. The Huskies have also had eight different players score in double-figures in this young season.
SUPER SUBS -- NIU has the luxury of having a deep bench as Huskie head coach Rob Judson can go nine players deep on his squad. His reserves have responded as the non-starters are shooting a blistering 53.7% (73-for-136) from the field and scoring 24.1 points-per-contest through the first eight games of the season.
BLOCK PARTY -- Senior center James Hughes currently sits in second place in Huskie history with 163 career blocks. The reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year needs 37 more swats for the school-record of 200, currently held by Allen Rayhorn (1978-82).
STREAK STOPPER -- With a victory against Lamar on Wednesday, the Huskies will avoid their longest losing streak since a 10-game drought from January 17-February 21, 2004. A win against the Cardinals would also help the Huskies avoid six losses in the month of December since the 1988-89 campaign.
20/20 VISION -- For the second time this season, a NIU player has tallied 20+ points in a half, as senior center James Hughes scored 24 of his career and game-high 27 points in the Huskies 72-70 loss against Georgia Southern on December 8th. Junior guard / forward Zach Pancratz accomplished that feat earlier this year as he scored a career-high 22 points, including six treys, in the second half of NIU's 72-62 loss against Winthrop on December 2nd.
CHARITY STRIPE -- In NIU's three victories, the Huskies averaged 28.3 shots from the free throw line. In their five losses since, NIU has averaged 14.6 charity tosses-per-game.
MR. ALL-AROUND -- Typically it takes some time for a junior college transfer to adapt to the style of NCAA Division I basketball, but forward Shaun Logan has made his presence felt in a Huskie uniform. Through eight games, Logan is averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists-per-contest.
HEAT WAVE -- Freshman point guard Cody Yelder left Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Ill., as its all-time leading scorer. Richards also happens to be the alma mater of Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade.
FAMILY AFFAIR -- Basketball is a big part of NIU junior guard / forward Zach Pancratz's life, as his father Andy was a four-year letterwinner for DePaul University, his older brother Mark was a four-year letterwinner for UW-Milwaukee and is currently a graduate assistant coach at Tennessee, while younger brother Jake has started five games for the University of Chicago, currently ranked 23rd nationally in Division III.
BRISTAN KNOWS BASKETBALL (AND FOOTBALL) -- Freshman forward Bristan Kelley can throw his weight around on the court, but as a prep, he was known do it on the gridiron as an All-Conference tight end for Lee's Summit North in Lee's Summit, Missouri.
HUSKIES FOR LIFE -- Northern Illinois assistant coaches Donald Whiteside and Carl Armato have both tasted `March Madness' in a Huskie uniform as Whiteside was a member of the 1991 squad that faced St. John's in the opening round, while Armato suited up for NIU's first-ever NCAA Tournament squad that took on Kansas State in 1982.
GO-TO GUY -- With time winding down in a contest, you can expect the Huskies to get James Hughes the ball as the senior center is shooting 72.7% (8-for-11) from the field and scoring 3.1 points-per-game with less than five minutes remaining in games.
TREY BIEN -- Junior guard / forward Zach Pancratz has knocked down at least one three-pointer in the Huskies' last three contests.
UP NEXT -- The Huskies continue in the Lone Star State as they travel to Nacogdoches, Texas on Friday to square off with Stephen F. Austin for a 7 p.m. (CST) tip-off.