Northern Illinois to Host Utah Valley on Friday Afternoon

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

Dec. 30, 2010

Notes: Game 11 vs. Utah Valley Get Acrobat Reader

NIU (3-7) vs. Utah Valley (6-7)
Friday, Dec. 31, 2010 | 1 p.m.
DeKalb, Ill. | Convocation Center | 9,100

NIU Radio Availability
WLBK  | 1360 AM | DeKalb
WJOL  | 1340 AM | Joliet
WKRS  | 1220 AM | Waukegan

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois returns home to the NIU Convocation Center to host Utah Valley on New Year's Eve at 1 p.m. The Huskies are back in DeKalb following a three-game road trip that concluded this past Monday with a defeat at 10th-ranked Missouri. NIU brings a 3-7 overall record, 2-2 at home, into Friday's contest. Xavier Silas leads the Mid-American Conference and ranks fourth in the nation in scoring entering the meeting with the Wolverines, averaging 24.4 points per game. Last time out against Missouri, Tim Toler led NIU with 13 points and a career-high-tying seven rebounds. 

About Utah Valley
Utah Valley comes to NIU with a 6-7 overall record; the Wolverines earned a 95-92 home victory over Florida International in their last contest this past Tuesday. Isiah Williams leads Utah Valley in scoring averaging 16.7 points per game, Jordan Swarbrick (11.3 ppg) and Holton Hunsaker (10.5 ppg) also average in double figures for the Wolverines. Geddes Robinson is Utah Valley's leading rebounder at 8.1 boards per contest. Utah Valley is a member of the Great West Conference, which also includes Chicago State, Houston Baptist, New Jersey Tech, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas-Pan American.

Against the Wolverines
Northern Illinois and Utah Valley are meeting for the first time

All-time Versus the Great West
NIU is 2-0 against current members of the Great West Conference. The Huskies two previous meetings against the league both came against Chicago State. The Great West Conference became an all-sports conference during the 2008-09 school year, making it the newest league in NCAA Division I athletics. The conference does not have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament; however the Great West Conference Tournament champion does receive an automatic bid to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. 

Rounding Out the Year
Northern Illinois will be playing on New Year's Eve for the seventh time in school history. The Huskies are 1-5 in their previous six New Year's Eve contests, NIU last played on New Year's Eve in 1997 when it lost, 79-73, to Western Michigan.

Home Sweet Home
After a difficult three-game stretch that saw NIU travel to Temple (currently ranked 25th), Southern Illinois and 10th-ranked Missouri, three teams with a combined 17-2 home record, the Huskies return home to the NIU Convocation Center where they have a 2-2 record.

Silas Smashes Records vs. UIC
In NIU's last home contest, Xavier Silas scored 40 points to lead NIU to an 80-78 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 14. Silas' 40 points set a new NIU Convocation Center scoring record, the record was previously 35 by Buffalo's Andy Robinson on Feb. 5, 2008. NIU's previous best at the Convocation Center was 32 by Darion Anderson against Chicago State on Dec. 6, 2008.

Silas also scored 28 points in the second half of the contest, tying the NIU single-half record set by Larry Wyllie in the second half at Eastern Michigan on Feb. 15, 1958.

He also tied the NIU school records for free throws made (22) and attempted (24) in a game. Both of those marks were set by Willie Hanson against Central Michigan on Feb. 26, 1966.

Finally, Silas' 22 free throws made also ties the Mid-American Conference record held by three other players: Jim Ray, Toledo (Feb. 27, 1956), Rick Rightnowar, Toledo (Feb. 1, 1992) and Ron Lewis, Bowling Green (March 10, 2003).

The 40-Point Club
With his 40 points against UIC, Xavier Silas became one of just nine players in the nation to score 40 points in a game this season. St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson and Ohio's D.J. Cooper have the two highest-scoring games, 44 and 43, respectively. Those performances came in a four overtime contest between the two schools. Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, UConn's Kemba Walker and San Jose State's Adrian Oliver have each recorded 42 points. Silas, Jared Sullinger of Ohio State, Charles Jenkins of Hofstra and Donald Sims of Appalachian State have each scored 40 points in a game.

MAC Honors
Xavier Silas has gathered three Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honors already this season. Silas scored 56 points in the Huskies' games against Bradley and Cardinal Stritch Nov. 16 and 21 to earn the initial award.  Silas scored a career-high 34 points in just 24 minutes of action versus Cardinal Stritch as he made 11-of-17 field goals overall and six-of-nine shots from three-point range. The Austin, Texas native scored 22 points in just 25 minutes in the Huskies' 66-63 loss at Bradley while hitting seven of his 11 field goal attempts and all six of his free throws.  He added six rebounds in that game and totaled 10 for the week.  In the two games, Silas shot 64.3 percent from the field (18-of-28) and 57.1 percent from three-point range (57.1 percent). 

In NIU's lone game during the week of Nov. 22-28, Silas tied his career-high for the second straight game to garner the honor again in an 86-80 win at Maryland Eastern Shore Nov. 24.  While scoring 34 points, he added a season-high three assists and tied a season-best with six rebounds.  Silas' points came on 12-of-16 shooting as he established a new career high for field goals made in a game and went 4-for-5 on three-pointers.

Silas garnered his third honor of the season on Dec. 20, after averaging 33.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists against Illinois-Chicago and Temple. He scored 40 points to lead the Huskies to a victory over the Flames and added a game-high 27 points against the Owls. Silas also grabbed six rebounds in each contest and tied a career-high with five assists at Temple.

Silas Starts Strong
After finishing the 2009-10 campaign as the MAC's No. 2 scorer with 19.7 points per game, Northern Illinois senior Xavier Silas is scoring at an even faster pace this season. The Texas native is averaging 24.4 points per game, fourth in the nation and tops in the Mid-American Conference. Silas scored a career-high 40 points against Illinois-Chicago, recording NIU's first 40-plus point game since Paul Dawkins netted 47 at Western Michigan on Feb. 28, 1979.  In his Huskie career, Silas has scored in double figures 30 times in 35 games played.  He scored 493 points in 2009-10 despite missing five games due to a hand injury suffered in the season opener and has 244 points already this season.

On Target
Silas' scoring increase has not come with more shots, but through hitting a higher percentage of his shots.  So far in the early-going, Silas has made 47.1 percent of his field goals overall, while his three-point shooting is not far off that at a 41.3 percent clip.  Those percentages are far ahead of his 38.3 and 32.1 percent marks for field goals and three-pointers made, respectively, a year ago.   The Huskie records for single season percentages are 58.9 (overall) and 48.9 (threes).

Streak Stopped
Xavier Silas started the season a perfect 28-of-28 from the free throw line before recording his first miss at Maryland Eastern Shore.  Silas made 42 straight free throws dating back to last year's penultimate game versus Toledo (March 4, 2010) before missing three of his last five free throws versus UMES.  Silas' made his last nine free throws versus Toledo last year, beginning with 31 seconds left in the first half.  He then hit all five of his tries in the MAC Tournament first-round game at Eastern Michigan. This year, he went 12-of-12 from the line versus Northwestern and hit all six of his tries at Bradley and versus Stritch, then made his first four free throws in Maryland.  Since missing his last attempt, Silas went 4-for-4 against Boise State.  The Northern Illinois record for consecutive free throws made in a season is 33 (by Todd Peterson in 2005-06); there is no record for consecutive free throws made in a career.
 
Landers Coming on Offensively
Senior Jeremy Landers has increased his offensive production over the last five games. Since the DePaul contest on Dec. 2, Landers is averaging 10.0 points per game, four points better than is total season average. Landers is also shooting 51.4 percent (19-of-37) from the floor during the latest five-game stretch. Landers has scored in double figures three times in the last five games, remarkable considering he had just four double-digit scoring games in his first 83 career games played. 

Hall Lends a Hand
Junior Bryan Hall has cemented his spot as the Huskies' starting point guard with steady ball-handling, especially over the last eight games.  In NIU's last eight contests, Hall has distributed 25 assists and racked up 10 steals while committing just 12 turnovers in 170 minutes.  He currently ranks seventh in the MAC in assist to turnover ratio with a 1.63 mark.  After finishing the 2009-10 season with 33 turnovers and 40 assists, Hall has 31 assists already this season to rank 11th in the league in assists per game (3.10).   He had five assists without a turnover versus Cardinal Stritch and recorded a career-high seven assists versus just one turnover at Maryland Eastern Shore. 

Silas a Senior CLASS Candidate
Xavier Silas has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's basketball.  The award honors seniors playing Division I basketball who have demonstrated high achievement in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition throughout their collegiate careers.

Quarterback Grady Joins Roster
Redshirt junior DeMarcus Grady, a quarterback on the NIU football team, joined the Huskie basketball roster on Monday, Dec.20, after returning from the Humanitarian Bowl. Grady, who started the football season opener at Iowa State, has not played basketball since high school when he was an all-state honorable mention player as a senior. Grady helped the NIU football team win a school-record 11 games this season.
 
Charity Stripe Turnaround
A year ago, Northern Illinois shot just 64.6 percent from the free throw line as eight of NIU's 12 players with more than two attempts on the season hit less than 60 percent from the line. The Huskies ranked 290th in the country and 11th in the MAC in free throw percentage, despite Xavier Silas' 81.1 percent mark.  So far in 2010-11, the Huskies have turned that performance around, ranking first in the MAC shooting 73.6 percent as a team (181-of-246). Silas' 77-of-85 made is good for 90.6 percent, tops in the MAC individually.  

Newest Huskies
Northern Illinois signed a pair of players for 2011-12 on Nov. 10. Zach Miller, a 5-9 guard from Glenbard East High School in Chicago, and DeAndre Barnette, a 6-4 wing from Liberty Tech in Jackson, Tenn., inked with the Huskies following successful junior seasons at their respective schools and equally as impressive summers. Miller helped lead the Rams to the Class 4A sectional final as a junior as he averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 steals and 7.2 assists per game.  He was the DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year.  Barnette led Liberty Tech to the Tennessee Class 2A title game and was named to the all-tournament team at the state tourney.

Challenging Slate
Northern Illinois will face six opponents that played in the 2010 postseason with games against NCAA Tournament participants Temple (Dec. 18), Missouri (Dec. 27) and Ohio (Feb. 5) along with National Invitation Tournament (NIT) teams Kent State (Feb. 12) and Northwestern. Akron earned a trip to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last year.

Looking Ahead
NIU will return to the road for its final non-conference road game of the season when it travels to Iowa State on Monday, Jan. 3. Game time against the Cyclones in Ames is scheduled for 7 p.m.