Dec. 30, 2013
Game Notes in PDF
Northern Illinois Huskies (5-5, 0-0 MAC) at No. 13 Iowa State Cyclones (11-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Date / Time: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 / 6 p.m. CT
Site: Hilton Coliseum Ames, Iowa
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. WRMN 1410-AM in Elgin, Ill. NIUTube (NIUHuskies.com)
Live Video: Cyclones.tv
Live Stats: Cyclones.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Iowa State leads 3-2
Last Meeting: Jan. 3, 2011 Iowa State 72-63
Dontel Highsmith scored 27 points last time out against UC Riverside (Dec. 22). It was the most points by a Huskie since Xavier Silas netted 34 on Feb. 12, 2011. Highsmith was named MAC West Player of the Week on Dec. 23.
Aaron Armstead has scored in double figures in each of the last two games. Armstead is shooting 63.6 percent from the field, and 57.1 percent from three, off the bench in the last two games averaging 11.5 points per game.
Travon Baker has also scored in double figures in the last two games, averaging 13.5 points per game.
Aaric Armstead returned to action at UC Riverside after missing a pair of games due to a groin injury.
NIU's victory last time out at UC Riverside gave the Huskies their first back-to-back wins since Feb. 26, 2011 (at Toledo, 75-70 in overtime) and March 2, 2011 (Eastern Michigan, 66-49), and their first back-to-back road wins since Jan. 6, 2010 (at Chicago State, 99-93) and Jan. 9, 2010 (at Ball State, 62-48).
The Huskies are finishing a four-game road trip with Tuesday's game at Iowa State. NIU's last home game took place on Dec. 5 against Dartmouth.
Seven of NIU's 10 games have been decided by seven points or less, with four of those games being decided by five points or less.
At 3-1 in December, NIU is guaranteed a winning record this month, marking NIU's first winning record in a month since January of 2010 when the Huskies went 5-3.
Two current Huskies saw action the last time NIU played at Iowa State. Aksel Bolin scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench while Antone Christian played a pair of minutes off the NIU bench.
ABOUT IOWA STATE
The Cyclones are a perfect 11-0 after winning the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, defeating George Mason (79-67), Akron (83-60) and Boise State (70-66) to claim the tournament title.
Four players are scoring in double figures for Iowa State, led by 18.0 points per game from Melvin Ejim. Georges Niang (16.0), DeAndre Kane (14.9) and Dustin Hogue (13.5) are also averaging in double figures; Houge also leads the Cyclones in rebounding at 10.3 per contest.
Iowa State is tied for sixth in the nation in scoring (87.2) with Northwestern State, Oregon is the nation's top scoring team at 90.8 points per game. The Cyclones also rank fourth nationally in assists per game (18.5), Michigan State leads the country with 19.5 assists per contest.
The Cyclones have lost at home just once since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, a 108-96 overtime setback to Kansas (Feb. 25, 2013). Iowa State is 22-1 at home in the last two seasons.
Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg is in his fourth season as head coach of the Cyclones. A native of Ames, Hoiberg graduated from ISU in 1995 and his number 32 was retired by the Cyclones in 1997.
Former Huskie Abdel Nader is a member of the Cyclone roster, Nader is sitting out this season following his transfer from NIU.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Iowa State leads the all-time series with NIU, 3-2. The home team has won all five meetings between the Cyclones and Huskies.
NIU and Iowa State have met just once in the last 40 years, a 72-63 Cyclone victory in Ames on Jan. 3, 2011.
The other four meetings between the two schools took place between 1967-71, a four-game home-and-home series that culminated in a 97-95 double overtime win for the Huskies in DeKalb on Jan. 4, 1971.
THE LAST MEETING
Iowa State defeated NIU, 72-63, on Jan. 3, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum. The Huskies trailed by just five with 3:41 to play but were unable to close the gap in the final minutes.
Xavier Silas scored 18 points and current Huskie Aksel Bolin added 10 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
Diante Garrett scored a team-high 22 points for Iowa State, former Huskie Darion "Jake" Anderson scored 16 points for the Cyclones and Melvin Ejim had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Tuesday's contest will be NIU's 32nd all-time against a team ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll; the Huskies are 2-29 all-time against AP ranked foes.
This will be NIU's second game against a ranked opponent this season, the Huskies fell at then-No. 22. UMass, 80-54, on Dec. 14. That was NIU's last loss.
The contest against Iowa State will be the second against a ranked opponent for Mark Montgomery as a head coach. Montgomery's only other game against a ranked foe was this season's defeat at UMass.
NIU's two wins over top-25 opponents came on Jan. 4, 1972, an 85-71 victory over fifth-ranked Indiana, and on Feb. 3, 1973, a 95-86 win over No. 19 Oral Roberts.
HOW THE WEST (COAST) WAS WON
NIU led nearly wire-to-wire at UC Riverside (Dec. 22), claiming a 71-64 victory to even its record at 5-5.
The Huskies trailed by twice in the contest, 3-0 and 5-3, taking the lead for good with 18:21 left in the first half.
Freshman guard Dontel Highsmith scored a game-high 27 points, going 9-of-11 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Highsmith's 27 points were the most by a Huskie since Xavier Silas scored 34 on Feb. 12, 2011 against Kent State, and were the most by a NIU freshman since Mike DiNunno had 27 on Nov. 18, 2008 against Indiana State.
Travon Baker and Aaron Armstead joined Highsmith in double figures. Baker scored 13 points for his second-straight double figure scoring game and Armstead added 11 as he also reached double figures for the second consecutive contest.
NIU made 27 free throws in the contest, the most for the Huskies during Mark Montgomery's tenure. NIU made its last 17 free throw attempts in the contest; the Huskies shot a season-best 77.1 percent (27-of-35) from the line.
NIU recorded a season-best seven blocked shots with Pete Rakocevic and Jordan Threloff each registering three blocks.
The victory gave NIU its first back-to-back win since Feb. 26, 2011 (at Toledo, 75-70 in overtime) and March 2, 2011 (Eastern Michigan, 66-49), and its first back-to-back road wins since Jan. 6, 2010 (at Chicago State, 99-93) and Jan. 9, 2010 (at Ball State, 62-48).
The victory is NIU's second this season over a team from the State of California; the Huskies defeated San Jose State, 60-59, on Nov. 16 in the NIU Invitational.
With the win, NIU is guaranteed a winning record for the month of December (currently 3-1), the last time NIU had a winning record in a month was January of 2010 when the Huskies went 5-3.
HIGHSMITH NAMED MAC WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
NIU freshman guard Dontel Highsmith was named MAC West Division Player of the Week on Dec. 23, after averaging 18.5 points and 3.0 rebounds while helping the Huskies to a pair of wins at Loyola-Chicago (Dec. 18) and UC Riverside (Dec. 22).
Highsmith scored 10 points with three rebounds; an assist and a steal against Loyola, helping NIU erase a 15-point second half deficit. Highsmith scored seven of his 10 in the second half, going 3-of-3 from the field after the intermission.
The Dowagiac, Mich., native scored 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and 6-of-6 from the line, at UC Riverside. Highsmith's 27 points were the most by a Huskie since Xavier Silas's 24 on Feb. 12, 2011, and the most by a NIU freshman since Mike DiNunno's 27 on Nov. 18, 2008.
Highsmith is the first Huskie to earn MAC Player of the Week honors since Abdel Nader earned the accolade on Feb. 4, 2013.
Highsmith currently ranks 11th in the MAC in field goal percentage, shooting 54 percent (34-of-63). He is the highest ranked freshman
Among MAC freshmen, Highsmith is the third leading scorer, averaging 9.6 points per contest, and fifth in rebounding at 3.3 per game.
Highsmith has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.
Highsmith returned to the starting lineup six games ago and has averaged 12.0 points per game during that stretch, shooting 61 percent (25-of-41) from the field.
On the road this season, Highsmith is averaging 15.0 points per game while shooting 64.7 percent (22-of-34).
A LONG DECEMBER ROAD TRIP
The Huskies are wrapping up a stretch of four-straight road games. NIU opened with five-straight home games before playing five of six, and seven of nine, away from home.
NIU played just one home game in the month of December, a 64-57 victory over Dartmouth on Dec. 5.
The month of December has seen the Huskies travel from coast-to-coast, heading to UMass on Dec. 14 and UC Riverside on Dec. 22.
The Huskies will travel a total of 6,502 miles during the month of December.
NIU's next home game will be on Friday, Jan. 3, when it hosts Bethune Cookman