NIU Ends Road Trip Saturday at Washington

GO HUSKIES Sophomore forward Kevin Gray
Sophomore forward Kevin Gray

Dec. 21, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (2-8, 0-0 MAC) at Washington Huskies (7-4, 0-0 Pac-12)
Date / Time: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 / 6 p.m. CT (4 p.m. PT)
Site: Alaska Airlines Arena • Seattle, Wash.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Television: Pac-12 Network
Live Stats:
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: first meeting

Abdel Nader is averaging 14.0 points per game in three contests since returning from suspension. Nader is averaging 27.1 points per 40 minutes played.   
Akeem Springs is averaging 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game since moving to a role off the bench in the last three games. Springs is shooting 50.0 percent, including 54.5 percent from 3-point range, during that time.
Antone Christian returned against DePaul (Dec. 16) after missing six games due to injury. In his second game back at Seattle (Dec. 19), Christian scored a season-high 11 points in just 10 minutes of action.
Akeem Springs had connected on a triple in each of the first nine games, that streak was snapped at Seattle (Dec. 19).
• NIU shoots seven percent better from the field and nearly six percent better from the free-throw line in the second half. The Huskies are shooting 34.9 percent from the field and 59.4 percent from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes of games this season. In the second half, NIU is shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 65.1 percent from the line. As a result, NIU is averaging 24.9 points in first halves this season versus 31.3 points in second halves.

• Freshmen have played 62.7 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 20.3 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.
• Northern Illinois is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 2.6 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).

• Developed by, “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 (1.57), behind only Arkansas-Little Rock (1.28) and Texas (1.42).
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

Travon Baker ranks second in the MAC in steals at 2.3 per contest, just 0.1 steals per game behind Kent State’s Chris Evans.
Sam Mader ranks 10th in the conference in blocks at 1.1 per game.
Aksel Bolin is pulling down 4.9 rebounds per contest, 19th-best in the MAC.
• At 10.1 points per game, Akeem Springs ranks 23rd in the MAC in scoring, second among freshmen behind only Western Michigan’s Darius Paul (11.4 ppg).
• NIU ranks second in the MAC in rebounding margin at +2.6.
• The Huskies lead the conference in offensive rebounding averaging 14.0 offensive boards per game.
• NIU is also second in defensive rebound percentage (72.2 percent) and third in offensive rebound percentage (36.6 percent).

• NIU will follow up its shortest road trip of the season, last Sunday at DePaul, with its longest when the Huskies travel to Seattle this week.
• The trip from the NIU Convocation Center to Allstate Arena (DePaul) was just 64 miles while the trip to Key Arena, site of Wednesday’s game at Seattle, is 2,026 miles. The NIU Convocation Center is 2,025 miles from Alaska Airlines Arena.
• The trip will be just NIU’s second to the State of Washington in program history. NIU’s lone other trip was a Dec. 27, 1965 contest a Seattle Pacific, a 104-85 defeat.
• The Huskies will not be the only Mid-American Conference school in The Emerald City this week. Buffalo will be playing Washington State at Key Arena on Friday night, Dec. 21, in the Cougar Hardwood Classic.  

• 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).

• The Huskies are 7-4 having defeating Cal Poly, 75-62, on Thursday night. Washington has won three-straight and five of its last six.
 • C.J. Wilcox leads four Huskies scoring in double figures. Wilcox is averaging 19.4 points per contest and netted 21 last time out against Cal Poly.
• Washington is currently shooting 47.5 percent from the field as a team with six players shooting over 45 percent.

• Saturday’s contest will be the first all-time meeting between NIU and Washington.

• The Huskies are 0-3 all-time against current members of the Pac-12 Conference with a pair of losses to Arizona and a defeat to Utah.
• NIU traveled to Arizona twice in the 1970s, falling 91-90 in overtime on Dec. 16, 1972 and 103-85 on Nov. 29, 1974. The Huskies also hosted Utah on Dec. 31, 1937, falling to the Utes 45-35.
• None of those three contests took place while the school was a member of the Pac-12, Saturday’s contest will be NIU’s first against a school that was a member of the Pac-12 at the time of the contest.

• Northern Illinois fell to Seattle, 75-48, on Wednesday night at Key Arena in a return game from the 2011 ESPN BracketBuster.
• The Redhawks shot 59.3 percent (16-of-27) in the first half of the contest while holding NIU to just 26.7 percent (8-of-30) shooting.
Aksel Bolin had five assists, tying a career-high he set in the previous game against DePaul.
Antone Christian came off the bench to score 11 points in 10 minutes of action, Christian connected on his first three 3-point attempts of the contest.
• The Huskies were outrebounded by the Redhawks, 44-30, the largest rebounding deficit for the Huskies this season. Previously the largest rebounding deficit for NIU this season was just four, at Dayton (34-30).
• The -14 rebounding differential was also the largest for NIU during Mark Montgomery’s tenure. The Huskies were outrebounding by 13 twice last season, both times against Western Michigan (Feb. 15, 2012 and March 7, 2012).
• Seattle’s 44 rebounds are the most by an NIU opponent during the Mark Montgomery era.
• NIU earned 19 trips to the free-throw line, but converted just 11 of those opportunities. NIU’s 19 free throw attempts were its most since the season opener at Nebraska Omaha (30).

• The Blue Demons edged the Huskies, 69-64, in a game that featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes.
Abdel Nader led all scorers with 20 points, Nader also pulled down a game-high tying six rebounds.
Akeem Springs recorded his fourth double-figure scoring game of the season with 11 points, Springs was 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line.
• The Huskies shot 87.5 percent from the free-throw line (7-of-8), but DePaul shot 84.0 percent (21-of-25)
• NIU outrebounded DePaul by 10, 39-29.
• Northern Illinois outscored DePaul in the pain, 34-24, and the Huskie bench outscored the Blue Demon reserves, 30-17.
• NIU had 13 steals against DePaul, the most by a Huskie team during Mark Montgomery’s tenure. Mike Davis recorded a team-high four.
• The Huskies forced 20 DePaul turnovers, the most by a NIU opponent during the Mark Montgomery era.
Mike Davis scored a career-high nine points and registered a career-high four steals.
Aksel Bolin dished out a career-best five assists against the Blue Demons.

• 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.

• 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.



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