Northern Illinois (2-7) at Seattle (3-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 19, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: KeyArena (17,459) -- Seattle, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 2-2, Seattle 2-3. Away Record: NIU 0-5, Seattle 1-2. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, Seattle 0-0. Conference Record: NIU 0-0, Seattle 0-0. Series Record: Seattle leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams will attempt to rebound from back-to-back losses when the Northern Illinois Huskies travel to KeyArena for a non-conference meeting with the Seattle Redhawks.
Northern Illinois was outlasted on the road by instate foe DePaul last time out as the Huskies fell 69-64. That setback came after another close loss to Milwaukee which needed overtime to decide. The Huskies have lost five of their last six games and are off to a 2-7 start through the first nine games. The Huskies have been brutal on the road with losses in all five of their ventures outside of DeKalb. Northern Illinois will remain in the Emerald City in their next matchup to face Washington.
This is the third leg of a five-game homestand for Seattle which dropped the first two contests in losses to Washington (87-74) and Jackson State (91-82). This will actually be the third game in the last week for the Redhawks who are currently in possession of a 3-5 overall record which includes a 2-3 mark at KeyArena. The next matchup in the home stretch for the Redhawks features Campbell on Saturday.
During the 2010-11 season these programs were paired in their first ever meeting during BracketBuster weekend. The Redhawks prevailed in that matchup 60-48.
Despite a career night from Abdel Nader, the Huskies were unable to overcome DePaul. In a game that featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes the Huskies cut their deficit to 65-64 with 16 seconds left on the clock but the team missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds and DePaul hit four straight free throws to close out the decision.
The 64 points the Huskies scored against DePaul were actually an improvement on the team's overall production this season. Northern Illinois is scoring only 57.7 points per game and hitting on just 39.0 percent of its field goal attempts. The Huskies really don't move the ball well with the team ranked last in the Mid-American Conference in assists (9.2 pg). Perhaps a symptom of the slower pace that the Huskies play, opponents are scoring only 63.8 points per game and shooting at a 43.8 percent clip. Nader missed the first seven games of the season but has really played well by scoring 18.5 points per game in his two contests. That is markedly better than his output of a year ago (10.4 ppg). Akeem Springs (11.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is the only player to be scoring in double figures that has made appearances in all nine games. Aksel Bolin (7.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Sam Mader (7.4 ppg) are the only other players scoring more than seven points per game.
Seattle let a slim halftime lead slip away in the second half in allowing Jackson State to earn its first win of the season. The Redhawks allowed Jackson State to shoot at a 50.0 percent clip and get 16 points from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Seattle got to the line only 12 times, scoring on five attempts, and shot 45.7 percent from the field in that time. Sterling Carter came off the bench to score 20 points, mainly on six 3-pointers.
The Redhawks play at a much faster pace than Northern Illinois and have therefore scored, and surrendered, more points. Seattle nets 67.5 points per game despite shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor. The Redhawks also dish out a respectable 14.5 assists per game and are the ninth best rebounding team in the country (43.5 pg) and the fourth best on the offensive glass (16.5 pg). That work on the boards has been a big reason for the team's relatively strong scoring in spite of poor shooting. Unfortunately Seattle is also being lit up for 75.8 points per game and has lost by double digits in all but one of its losses. Clarence Trent (11.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Deshaun Sunderhaus (10.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) anchor the Redhawks' rebounding and scoring efforts as the only players to be averaging in double figures. Players like Carter (8.3 ppg), Prince Obasi (8.4 ppg) and Chad Rasmussen (8.5 ppg) have been more limited on offense.
Being able to control the boards will be a major advantage for Seattle as neither of these teams shoot particularly well.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seattle 73, Northern Illinois 65
12/19 10:41:04 ET