Kent State (11-9) at Northern Illinois (4-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 30, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Kent State 6-6. NIU 2-5. Away Record: Kent State 5-3, NIU 2-9. Neutral Record: Kent State 0-0, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: Kent State 2-4, NIU 2-4. Series Record: Kent State leads, 32-17.
GAMES NOTES: The Kent State Golden Flashes will try to put an end to a three- game losing streak when they visit the Northern Illinois Huskies at the Convocation Center for a Mid-American Conference bout on Wednesday night.
In a battle with intrastate rival Ohio last Saturday the Golden Flashes let a opportunity to pick up a win slip away in a 69-68 loss. It was the third straight setback for the Golden Flashes who are now 11-9 overall and just 2-4 in league play. The Golden Flashes have been able to put up a strong fight on the road with a 5-3 mark in away contests though they return home to face Eastern Michigan next.
After a surprising 74-61 win on the road over Central Michigan, Northern Illinois dropped an ugly 42-25 loss to Eastern Michigan in its last time out. The loss was the 14th in 18 total games for the Huskies. Even though their overall records are wildly different the Huskies have an identical 2-4 mark in league play. At home, where the Huskies will play their next two games as well, they are 2-5.
Kent State has won the last 11 meetings between these squads to increase its all-time series lead to 32-17.
With 4:07 remaining Kent State had a 65-62 lead against Ohio, but the Golden Flashes missed their last three field goal attempts and had a pair of turnovers in the final minutes as Ohio pulled ahead for the win. Kent State lost despite a 36-21 edge on the boards by allowing Ohio to shoot 50 percent from the field.
Leading scorer Chris Evans (17.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg) did all he could in the loss as he put in a game-high 20 points, while also totaling a season-high seven assists. The 6-foot-8 forward has now scored in double figures in 11 straight games with four of those games ending in totals of at least 20. Randal Holt (13.9 ppg) is the only other player on the roster scoring in double figures while also one of only three players putting in more than 5.5 points per game. Holt could be an even more effective scorer but his shooting has been erratic (.340 FG percentage). With Evans the third leading scorer in the conference the Golden Flashes still rank favorably in the MAC in scoring (69.4 ppg, 8th).
Although it allowed the fewest points in a game in seven seasons, Northern Illinois' ghastly offensive effort against Ohio was the real story. The Huskies scored just four points in the first half when they hit just 1-of-31 shots from the floor and missed all 17 tries from beyond the arc. The four points were the fewest scored in a half at the Division I level in the shot clock era.
Though not historically abysmal as that game the Huskies haven't exactly been putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. The Huskies are the lowest scoring team in the MAC (55.8 ppg) while shooting the worst percentage from the floor (.356) among the 347 teams at the Division I level. Abdel Nader (13 ppg) is the only player on the roster scoring better than eight points per game but at a 35.1 field goal percentage hasn't been particularly consistent. There hasn't really been any player on the squad that has been able to consistently hit shots though as other than Aksel Bolin 7.2 ppg( .407 FG percentage), no player putting in more than 20 minutes per game is shooting better than 35 percent from the field.
It is unlikely that Northern Illinois will have another offensive performance like it did against Eastern Michigan. However it is likely that the Huskies won't be able to put up enough points to top Kent State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 68, Northern Illinois 53
01/30 10:38:59 ET