James Madison (0-1) at Northern Illinois (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 15, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: JMU 0-0, NIU 0-1. Away Record: JMU 0-1, NIU 0-0. Neutral Record: JMU 0-0, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: JMU 0-0, NIU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies are set to begin their NIU Invitational as they host the James Madison Dukes at the Convocation Center on Friday.
James Madison enters with an 0-1 record after being dismantled in a 61-41 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers last Friday. The Dukes were crowned as the Colonial Athletic Association champions in 2012-13, but are expected to take a step backwards after losing four of their five starters. Coach Matt Brady has been successful since taking over the helm of the program as he owns an 88-83 record at JMU. His squad was no match for the Cavaliers' stingy defense as it hit on just 31.3 percent of its field goal attempts and tallied just eight assists to 13 turnovers.
The Huskies are also winless after one game due to their hard-fought, 68-66, loss to Nebraska Omaha, which won the first encounter between the two schools by 13 points last season. Mike Montgomery is now in his third year as the head coach of Northern Illinois. His first two years plus the season opener have been frustrating as he has gone a woeful 10-52 over that span. NIU was neck- and-neck with Omaha throughout its first appearance of the season, but fell after the Mavericks put a layup through the cylinder with only seconds left in regulation.
This will be the first meeting in history between the Dukes and Huskies.
Freshman forward Tom Vodanovich was the only JMU player to score in double- figures in the season opener, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the floor. Brady's starting backcourt of Ron Curry and Charles Cooke provided nine points apiece and combined for six of the team's assists. Senior forward Andrey Semenov tried to be the leader of the team with 12 field goal attempts, but he connected on just three of his shots to finish with eight points in 30 minutes of action. The Dukes were very passive on the offensive end. They settled for 25 3-point attempts and only connected on six, while recording only six tries from the charity stripe. JMU was also beaten up on the glass as Virginia held a 45-27 advantage in total rebounds.
The Huskies were paced by Darrell Bowie with 16 points, followed by Daveon Balls with 13 in a reserve role versus Omaha. The Mavericks outscored NIU, 27-15, at the free-throw line. Montgomery's team showed some fight in the setback as it overcame a 15-point first half deficit to take a 39-28 lead into halftime. Aksel Bolin, who was the team's leading scorer among returners after netting 7.2 ppg last season, missed all five of his shots from the field and contributed just a single point against the Mavericks. The starting backcourt of Dontel Highsmith and Aaron Highsmith combined to go 3-of-12 from the field and 2-of-6 at the charity stripe.
The Huskies' sporadic play is not likely to improve unless they can find a way to get Bolin more open looks. NIU played very well defensively, but it will be nothing compared to the Cavaliers squad JMU was stifled by in its first appearance. The Dukes, while young, clearly have an edge in talent which should help them overcome the Huskies' homecourt advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: James Madison 67, Northern Illinois 61
11/15 10:31:42 ET