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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alumni Arena (6,100) -- Buffalo New York. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Illinois 4-3, Buffalo 5-1. Away Record: Northern Illinois 2-3, Buffalo 1-2. Neutral Record: Northern Illinois 0-0, Buffalo 0-1. Conference Record: Northern Illinois 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Series Record: Buffalo leads, 14-13.
GAME NOTES: The Buffalo Bulls will finally return to the court after a Jan. 3 game versus South Dakota State was postponed, as the Northern Illinois Huskies travel to Buffalo for the Mid-American Conference opener for both programs.
Northern Illinois hasn't played a game since a Jan. 3 victory over Bethune- Cookman, 65-51, and now embarks on a two-game road stint starting in Buffalo. The Huskies have won three of the past four games and look to start conference play off on the right foot.
Buffalo hasn't seen the hardwood since a Dec. 29 win over Drexel, 55-52, because of the postponed game. The Bulls host the Huskies hoping for a MAC win to start conference play. The Bulls have won two in a row after losing two straight before the holiday hiatus.
Buffalo holds a slim 14-13 all-time series advantage over the Huskies, including a win in the last meeting between the two programs on Feb. 9, 2013.
Northern Illinois dominated Bethune-Cookman in the team's last outing, scoring 65 points and holding the Wildcats to a 29.6 percent shooting performance. The Huskies also outrebounded Bethune-Cookman, 41-26, in the contest. Darrell Bowie and Aaric Armstead each netted 11 points to lead Northern Illinois, while Aaron Armstead delivered 10 points in the win. Bowie just missed out on a double-double, as the forward grabbed nine rebounds in his 25 minutes of play. The team shot 46.3 percent from the floor, but turned the ball over 14 times compared to Bethune-Cookman's 10.
Dontel Highsmith is the only Northern Illinois player to average scoring numbers in the double digits this season, bringing a 10.5 ppg mark in to Buffalo. Highsmith missed a game earlier this season, but is still second on the team in steals with 11 and is tied for the team lead in total points scored with 115. Bowie is second on the team in scoring average with a 9.6 ppg clip, and leads the Huskies this season with a 7.2 rpg mark. The team is shooting 40.2 percent from the floor this year.
Buffalo outscored Drexel 35-28 in the second half on Dec. 29 to claim a three- point victory on the road. Both teams came out of the gate shooting poorly, going 15-of-57 from the floor before things picked up. Javon McCrea led all scorers in the game with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, adding nine rebounds to his performance. He was the only Bulls player to score more than seven points in the win. Will Regan netted seven and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds in the contest.
In the 10 games the Bulls have played this season, McCrea has a steady hold on the team's shooting lead with a 17.7 ppg average. Guard Joshua Freelove is the only other Buffalo player to average double figures, contributing 12.5 ppg. McCrea does it all this season, averaging 9.6 rpg with a team-leading 25 blocks and 17 steals. The Bulls as a squad net 72.1 ppg.
It's clear the Bulls should be rested after so much time off between games. If McCrea can get some help in the scoring department, this could be a dangerous MAC team this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 75, Northern Illinois 70
01/08 11:08:58 ET
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