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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Convocation Center (10,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Ohio 8-2, NIU 4-4. Away Record: Ohio 4-2, NIU 3-4. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: Ohio 2-1, NIU 1-2. Series Record: Ohio University leads, 30-16.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio University Bobcats take to the road for Saturday's Mid- American Conference clash against the Northern Illinois Huskies.
The Bobcats rolled over Ball State, 71-51, on Wednesday for their fifth win in the last six games. The recent run of success has pushed them to 12-4 overall, with that mark including a 2-1 performance against the rest of the MAC. Ohio will return home to host Bowling Green next.
NIU has not been able to get going in either direction of late with a 3-3 split of its last six contests, including a 1-2 start to MAC play. The Huskies are a game under .500 overall (7-8) and an even 4-4 in home bouts. They will be visiting Toledo in their next matchup.
Ohio has dominated the series with NIU over the years, with 30 wins in 45 all- time meetings. The Bobcats have won six straight against the Huskies.
In their win over Ball State, the Bobcats controlled just about every phase of the game. They shot 46.3 percent from the field, while limiting the Cardinals to 32.6 percent. They forced 21 turnovers and claimed a 30-22 scoring edge in the paint.
The most impressive part of Ohio's game is its defensive play. The Bobcats are limiting teams to just 64.6 ppg while ranking 18th nationally in opponent field goal percentage (.384). Maurice Ndour (15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is the anchor of the group, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor to lead the team in scoring, as well as rebounding. Nick Kellogg (14.6 ppg) has a ton of experience and is a solid second scorer. Jon Smith (7.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg) doesn't provide much in terms of offensive production, but he ranks fifth in the MAC in blocks, making him a key component on defense.
Last time out, the Huskies were tangled up in an overtime battle with Kent State, but they fell short in a 73-64 final. NIU hit just 2-of-8 from the field in the extra period, while being outscored 10-1 from the free-throw line. Aaron Armstead posted a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) off the bench in the loss.
The defensive end of the floor has been where the Huskies have excelled as well, as they are holding foes to 64.6 ppg and 40.6 percent shooting. However, they do not perform well enough on offense to take advantage, ranking last in the MAC in scoring (63.1 ppg), assists (8.4 apg) and field goal percentage (.387). Dontel Highsmith (10.5 ppg) was the only player averaging in double figures, before he went down with a knee injury that required surgery earlier this month. Darrell Bowie (9.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is the next best option on a team that lacks offensive threats.
The only real advantage NIU has in this game is that it is playing at home. Outside of that, the Bobcats are the far superior unit and should prove it with a relatively easy win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 76, Northern Illinois 62
01/18 10:21:53 ET
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