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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 1, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 4-6, BSU 4-4. Away Record: NIU 4-5, BSU 0-10. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: NIU 2-5, BSU 1-6. Series Record: Ball State leads, 48-32.
GAME NOTES: Two teams struggling for victories meet at Worthen Arena on Saturday afternoon, as the Ball State Cardinals host the Northern Illinois Huskies in a Mid-American Conference clash.
The Huskies won at Kent State on Wednesday night, 50-49. That victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Northern Illinois, which improved to 8-11 overall and 2-5 in conference.
Ball State was not so lucky on Wednesday, as it was blown out at Akron, 73-46. The Cardinals have just two wins in their last 15 contests, and they are a dismal 1-6 in MAC action.
These teams have met 80 times, with the Cardinals holding a 48-32 advantage. Ball State took both meetings last year, and has won seven straight in the series overall.
Travon Baker drained two free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining to lift Northern Illinois over Kent State at the MAC Center earlier this week. The Huskies were led by Aksel Bolin with 14 points, while Baker added 11 points and Jordan Threloff chipped in with 10. Trailing by 14 early in the final period, the Huskies went on a 20-5 run to get back into the game and set the stage for Baker?s game-winning shots.
Although offense is not the Huskies' strong suit, ranking last in the MAC in scoring (61.9 ppg), assists (8.5 apg) and field goal percentage (.381), they do lead the league on the boards (38.0 rpg), while holding foes to 65.0 ppg, which is the third-best yield in the conference. With leading scorer Dontel Highsmith (10.5 ppg) out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, Darrell Bowie (9.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) has assumed the role of go-to guy, but he has only hit on 36.4 percent of his field goal attempts this season.
In the loss to Akron, Majok Majok led the Cardinals with 15 points. Ball State shot just 29.2 percent from the floor, and Akron ended the frame on a 29-7 run, as it went into the break leading comfortably, 35-19. Ball State could not recover in the second half.
Xavier Turner and Chris Bond are at the top of the Ball State scoring list, netting 12.2 ppg and 11.5 ppg, respectively. Bond is connecting on 45.4 percent of his shots from the floor, while Majok (11.2 ppg) hits on 56.2 percent and averages a near double-double with a team-best 9.8 rpg as well. Turner's 62 assists leads the team, but he carries the burden of 70 turnovers. Jesse Berry rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.0 ppg. As a collective unit, the Cardinals are scoring just 64.1 ppg while giving up 72.0 ppg.
Without much in the way of an offensive game, Northern Illinois has relied on its rebounding and defense to keep it in games. Luckily for the Huskies, they come up against a Ball State squad that struggles almost as much as they do to score. Despite the recent dominance by the Cardinals in the series, NIU is playing just a bit better now and should be able to pull out a tough road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Illinois 65, Ball State 62
02/01 11:52:30 ET
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