Huskies Return Home to Host UMass on Saturday

GO HUSKIES Darrell Bowie made his first career start last time out at Washington
Darrell Bowie made his first career start last time out at Washington

Dec. 28, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (2-9, 0-0 MAC) vs. Massachusetts Minutemen (7-3, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Date / Time: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 / 3 p.m. CT
Site: NIU Convocation Center • DeKalb, 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: Huskie All-Access
Live Stats:
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: UMass leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Nov. 10, 2007 • UMass 102-87

Abdel Nader is averaging 15.0 points per game in four contests since returning from suspension. Nader is averaging 27.6 points per 40 minutes played.
Aksel Bolin is the only player for NIU to start all 11 games this season.
• Nine different players have started at least one game for the Huskies with Darrell Bowie becoming the most recent to get a start at Washington (Dec. 22).
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. Christian then missed the Washington game (Dec. 22) due to illness.
• In the last four games, NIU’s opponents have shot a combined 80.2 percent (85-of-106) from the free-throw line. Only two teams in the nation (Central Connecticut State, 81.5 percent and Lehigh, 80.3 percent) have a better percentage for the season.
• NIU is making its only home appearance during a 38-day stretch between Dec. 5 and Jan. 12. The Huskies will have traveled 5,114 miles during that period for road games at UW Milwaukee, DePaul, Seattle, Washington and Miami (Ohio).
• Excluding February’s BracketBuster, Saturday’s contest is the final non-conference game of the season for the Huskies.
• Northern Illinois is playing its only game during a 17-day stretch between Dec. 22 and Jan. 9.
• Huskie opponents have made more free throws (173) than NIU has attempted (163).
• NIU shoots nearly six percent better from the field and nearly 10 percent better from the free-throw line in the second half. The Huskies are shooting 35.6 percent from the field and 58.0 percent from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes of games this season. In the second half, NIU is shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 67.4 percent from the line. As a result, NIU is averaging 24.9 points in first halves this season versus 31.4 points in second halves.

• Freshmen have played 62.3 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 21.1 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 1.3 boards per contest but have been outrebounded by 26 combined in the last two games.  
• 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 (1.56), 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.

Travon Baker ranks third in the MAC in steals at 2.1 per contest,
Sam Mader is tied for 11th in the conference in blocks at 1.0 per game.
• At 9.7 points per game, Akeem Springs ranks 28th in the MAC in scoring, third among freshmen.
• The Huskies lead the conference in offensive rebounding averaging 13.8 offensive boards per game.

• 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).

• Derek Kellogg’s club comes to DeKalb with a 7-3 overall record and has won four-straight games dating back to Dec. 4.
• Chaz Williams leads UMass in scoring at 16.5 points per game; Jesse Morgan is just behind at 16.0 points per contest.
• The Minutemen are in the midst of a stretch of four games out of five against the MAC. UMass defeated Ohio, 85-76, on Dec. 19. After playing NIU, UMass will travel to Miami (Ohio) and host Eastern Michigan.  
• UMass is one of the most-veteran teams in the country, with an “experience number” of 3.08, which ranks in the top-50 nationally.

• NIU and UMass have met just once previously, a 102-87 UMass win on Nov. 10, 2007.
• That lone meeting took place in Cedar Falls, Iowa, as part of the Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tourney.
• UMass was led by 22 points from Gary Forbes; Ryan Paradise led the Huskies with 18 points.  

• Saturday marks NIU’s second game of the season against the Atlantic 10; the Huskies lost 60-43 to Dayton earlier this season (Dec. 1).
• Northern Illinois is 9-21 all-time against current members of the Atlantic 10.
• NIU’s most frequent opponent from the A10 is Butler, the Huskies and Bulldogs have met nine times (6-3 Butler). The only other A10 foe NIU has met more than twice is Xavier (five times, 4-1 Xavier).
• NIU’s last victory against the A-10 came on Nov. 25, 2006, an 85-74 home victory over Duquesne.
• There are five schools from the Atlantic 10 (Fordham, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond and Saint Louis) that NIU has never played.

• Northern Illinois ended its four-game road trip with a 67-57 loss at defending Pac-12 champion Washington on Dec. 22.
• After trailing by as much as 15 in the second half, NIU cut the Washington lead to just six with less than two minutes to play.
• NIU shot a season-best 41.7 percent (5-of-12) from behind the arc against Washington.
• Northern Illinois held Washington to just 31.6 percent shooting. UW entered the contest shooting 47.5 percent as a team.
• Washington went 22-of-24 from the free-throw line in the contest (91.7 percent). UW was shooting just 67.8 percent prior to the contest.  
• Washington outrebounded NIU 42-30, including 22 offensive rebounds, the most allowed by NIU during the Mark Montgomery era.
 • Abdel Nader scored 18 points, the 20th double-figure scoring game of his career, against UW after not practicing the two days prior to the game.
Kevin Gray scored 10 points in just 16 minutes before fouling out, it was his second double-figure scoring game of the season.
Darrell Bowie made his first career start, scoring a career-best seven points in the contest.
Travon Baker dished out a career-high four assists with just one turnover against Washington.

• 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).

• 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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