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Northern Illinois (5-16) at Buffalo (8-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alumni Arena (6,100) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 3-7, UB 5-4. Away Record: NIU 2-9, UB 3-8. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, UB 0-3. Conference Record: NIU 3-6, UB 3-6. Series Record: Series tied, 13-13.
GAME NOTES: After an unsuccessful two-game road swing, the Buffalo Bulls return to Alumni Arena on Saturday to host the Northern Illinois Huskies for a Mid-American Conference bout.
This matchup will break the all-time series tie of 13-13. However, Buffalo has won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 11 against Northern Illinois. Since joining the MAC, the Bulls are 8-2 against Northern Illinois in games played at Alumni Arena.
The Huskies continued their trend of inconsistency on Wednesday as they delivered another dismal offensive performance in their 57-41 home loss to Bowling Green. The poor showing came just three games after NIU broke its own NCAA Division I record for futility, scoring just four points in the opening half of action in its 42-25 loss to Eastern Michigan. NIU is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation and net only 56.0 ppg. The Huskies have only the sixth best scoring defense in the MAC with 64.5 points allowed, which is a big reason why they have failed to register back-to-back victories at any point this season.
Abdel Nader is pacing NIU with 14.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, but none of his teammates are remotely close to his team-leading averages. In the loss to BGSU earlier this week, Nader was two rebounds shy of a double- double with 12 points, but was the only player in double-figures as NIU lost a second consecutive game. The Falcons made 43.1 percent from the floor including five 3-pointers, while NIU was held to 27.5 percent from the floor and only two conversions from long range in the contest.
The Bulls enter with an 8-15 overall record and 3-6 standing in the MAC after dropping a 65-46 decision to Eastern Michigan on Wednesday. Javon McCrea paced Buffalo with 15 points and nine boards while Will Regan chimed in with 12 points in the team's second consecutive loss. UB is 5-4 at home on the season after completing a 91-73 rout of Central Michigan in its last appearance at Alumni Arena.
Despite Buffalo's lackadaisical display throughout the season, McCrea has been a consistent bright spot with 17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per tilt. McCrea has seven double-doubles this season, already surpassing his season totals of both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Regan is the second leading scorer with 10.3 ppg. Tony Watson has averaged 10.2 points over the last four games and has drained 11 three-pointers during that span. The Bulls are shooting just 53 percent from the free-throw line over the last two games (23-of-43).
The Huskies are just what the doctor ordered for the Bulls, who clearly have talent despite their lack of success. NIU will need to identify another contributor on the offensive end before it picks up any road victories in MAC action.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 70, Northern Illinois 61
02/09 10:38:15 ET
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