Northern Illinois (2-10) at Miami-Ohio (5-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: John D. Millett Hall (6,400) -- Oxford, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 2-3, Miami-Ohio 4-1. Away Record: NIU 0-7, Miami-Ohio 1-6. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, Miami-Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: NIU 0-0, Miami-Ohio 0-0. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 25-13.
GAMES NOTES: Mid-American Conference play gets underway for both the Northern Illinois Huskies and the Miami-Ohio RedHawks on Wednesday night when the two teams square off at Millett Hall.
This season has the makings of another miserable one for Northern Illinois which enters league play with just a 2-10 mark overall. The Huskies have lost five straight games after a 64-59 setback at home to Massachusetts in their last outing. Playing on the road hasn't gone any better for them as the Huskies are winless in seven tries away from home. Northern Illinois will be back on its home floor next time out against Akron.
The RedHawks were also sunk by UMass, 70-69, in their last game. The loss came on the heels of two straight wins for Miami-Ohio which is wrapping up a four- game homestand in this contest. Miami is 4-1 at Millett Hall this season but just 5-7 overall. Last season Miami managed to finish in a tie for 10th in the conference at 5-11. The RedHawks will hit the road for the first time since mid-December against Buffalo on Saturday.
Last season Northern Illinois earned one of just three conference victories against Miami with the teams splitting the season series. Miami leads the all- time series, 25-13.
After trailing by as many as 15 points against UMass, Northern Illinois came to within two points, 61-59, with less than a minute remaining on a 3-pointer from Abdel Nader. However it was too little, too late as the Huskies missed their final two field goal attempts and let the game slip away.
It is difficult to try to win games when scoring is a huge issue and that has certainly been true for Northern Illinois. The Huskies are the lowest scoring (56.9 ppg) and worst shooting team (.375 FG percentage) in the MAC this year. They also rank last in the conference in assists (9.3 pg). All three of those marks are among the 10 worst in the country as well. Northern Illinois has managed to play a bit better defensively, letting up 65.0 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting. Nader (15.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg) missed the first seven games of the season but since his return has been playing well. Nader has scored at least 15 points in four of the five games he has played. Nader has given the team a much-needed offensive force. The next leading scorer is Akeem Springs (9.8 ppg).
Miami led for a bulk of the second half against UMass but a jumper from Chaz Williams with a little more than a minute left gave the Minutemen their final 70-69 advantage. The RedHawks got just one field goal attempt in the final minute, with Will Sullivan missing in the final seconds.
There isn't exactly a stable filled with scorers on the Miami roster either. The RedHawks are paced by Allen Roberts (12.8 ppg) with Reggie Johnson (10.2 ppg) the only other player in double figures. Roberts had a game-high 21 points against UMass as he nailed a season-high five shots from beyond the arc. Roberts isn't a versatile scorer though as his production comes primarily from beyond the arc. Johnson (10.2 ppg) relies less on shots from long distance but has still been inconsistent. Overall the RedHawks are right in the middle of the conference offensively, ranking sixth in scoring (67.1 ppg) and fifth in field-goal percentage (.427). The RedHawks' rebounding numbers have been rather dismal, with the team ranked dead last on the boards (29.0 pg) in the MAC.
The road woes for Northern Illinois have been well documented this season and although Miami is not a top team in the MAC, the RedHawks should be able to defend their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Ohio 62, Northern Illinois 58
01/09 10:32:51 ET