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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 18, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joseph J. Gentile Center (5,200) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 3-3, Loyola 4-0. Away Record: NIU 0-2, Loyola 0-4. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, Loyola 1-1. Conference Record: NIU 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Series Record: Loyola-Chicago leads, 17-16.
GAME NOTES: Northern Illinois continues a four-game road trip tonight, as the Huskies clash with the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago in non-conference action at the Gentile Center.
NIU has won a total of just three times this season, the latest victory being a 64-57 final over Dartmouth back on Dec. 5. More recently, the team was taken down by 22nd-ranked UMass over the weekend in a lopsided 80-54 outcome.
As for the Ramblers, they've been perfect at home thus far, winning all four games that they've hosted. Loyola is closing out a three-game homestand tonight after having defeated Illinois-Chicago (73-70) on Dec. 7 and Campbell (80-68) on Friday.
The Ramblers lead the all-time series by a narrow 17-16 margin, grabbing the advantage with a 53-46 win in the most recent matchup last season.
The Huskies enjoyed a momentary lead against UMass the last time out before eventually falling behind by 27 points, and losing by 26 on the road at the Mullins Center. Dontel Highsmith was the lone double-digit scorer for Northern Illinois with 10 points. as the team shot only 37.0 percent from the field and a disappointing 9-of-17 at the free-throw line.
Darrell Bowie, who shot only 2-of-7 from the floor and 1-of-6 at the charity stripe against the Minutemen, remains the leading scorer for NIU with his 10.0 ppg, although he is not only shooting a mere 37.7 percent from the field, but also a dismal 54.0 percent at the charity stripe. While Bowie is responsible for a team-best 6.6 rpg as well, the fact that he has issued only five assists in more than 200 minutes of action is by no means encouraging.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes, the Ramblers bounced back from an early six-point deficit to claim an encouraging 12-point home win over Campbell. Milton Doyle was the star of the show as he tallied 32 points in 34 minutes of action, shooting 9-of-13 from the floor as the team connected on 56.5 percent from the field. Christian Thomas pitched in with 16 points and Matt O'Leary another 15 off the bench.
Doyle, who is hitting his field goals just 39.8 percent of the time, and free throws at only 64.0 percent, paces the program with 14.4 ppg, followed by Thomas (13.8 ppg) and Jeff White (12.8 ppg) as the team generates 68.5 ppg, but at the same time allows 68.0 ppg. Thomas is first on the team with slightly more than seven rebounds per game, although his 61.3 percent effort at the charity stripe is in need of some attention.
Without much of an offense, the Huskies will be lucky to keep up with many opponents this season, and that will certainly be the case versus Loyola tonight on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Chicago 72, Northern Illinois 63
12/18 10:32:34 ET