Northern Illinois (2-5) at Milwaukee (2-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 7, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Klotsche Center (3,500) -- Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 2-2, Milwaukee 2-1. Away Record: NIU 0-3, Milwaukee 0-3. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, Milwaukee 0-2. Conference Record: NIU 0-0, Milwaukee 0-0. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads, 17-10.
GAME NOTES: A pair of two-win teams attempt to get their seasons back on track on Friday night, as the Northern Illinois Huskies visit the Milwaukee Panthers.
After losing five of its first six games, NIU was able to capture a 65-54 home victory over SIU Edwardsville on Wednesday. The Huskies have not had any success venturing away from DeKalb however, as they have lost all three of their road games.
Milwaukee's season started off promising with wins over the University of Mary (76-46) and Davidson (73-68) in its first three matchups, but since then it has gone on to lose five consecutive games. After coming away empty-handed in the Hoops for Hope Classic in Puerto Vallarta, the Panthers returned to the states to suffer losses at Northern Iowa (72-61), and at home against Buffalo (72-52).
NIU leads the all-time series with Milwaukee, 17-10, although the Panthers won last year's clash in DeKalb, 59-57.
As was the case during the 2011-12 campaign when they won just five games, the Huskies have started off this season by performing very poorly at the offensive end of the court, making just 38.6 percent of their field goal attempts for a mere 54.6 ppg. Things are looking up for NIU after its latest game however, as it made greater than 50 percent of its field goal attempts in the 11-point win over SIUE. Aksel Bolin shined by connecting on 7-of-10 from the field for 15 points while also logging three steals. Sam Mader added 11 points and Travon Baker chipped in with 10. Having three players score in double figures was far from the norm for the Huskies, as they are without a player who averages at least 10.0 ppg on the year. Akeem Springs leads the way with 9.6 ppg, but does so on just 33.8 percent efficiency from the floor. Bolin (8.4 ppg) has been much more impressive from the field (.523), and he also grabs a team-best 4.9 rpg.
After winning its first two home games of the season, Milwaukee laid an egg on Wednesday night against Buffalo, shooting just 34.5 percent from the field (including 4-of-18 from three-point range) in the 20-point defeat. Jordan Aaron was able to rise above his teammates' struggles, scoring 23 points. Paris Gulley also had a nice night with 16 points, but the rest of the squad combined to score only 13 points. The Panthers have been experiencing shooting woes all season long, making less than 40 percent of their field goal attempts. They rely heavily on the three-ball, making 7.5 per game, but at just a 32.8 percent clip. Gulley has played in just two games so far but his return to the lineup has been a huge boost offensively as he nets 20.0 ppg. Allen tallies 16.9 ppg and has been very good from beyond the arc (21-of-51). He also dishes out a team-best 3.9 apg. Demetrius Harris (9.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg) has been solid in the frontcourt.
With the way these two teams have been playing in the early going, this could be an ugly contest. NIU is riding high off an impressive win, but going on the road will be a difficult task for this team, even against a struggling Milwaukee squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Milwaukee 75, Northern Illinois 65
12/07 10:35:38 ET