Men's Basketball Preview: Northern Illinois at Kent State

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

Records: Northern Illinois (7-11, 1-5 MAC), Kent State (11-8, 2-4 MAC).

When/Where: Tonight, 7 p.m./M.A.C. Center.

Radio/TV: WHLO 640 AM/TWC SportsChannel.

Head Coaches: Mark Montgomery, Northern Illinois (17-62, 3rd season); Rob Senderoff, Kent State (53-34, 3rd season)

2012-13 Records: Northern Illinois 5-25, 3-13 MAC; Kent State 21-14, 9-7 MAC.

Series: Kent State leads 33-18. The Flashes defeated the Huskies 73-64 in overtime two weeks ago in DeKalb.

Scouting Northern Illinois

Since letting a 13-point lead slip away in the final 10:49 of regulation against Kent State the Huskies have struggled, losing four straight. They did play Toledo tough on the road, falling 70-68. ... Northern Illinois plays solid defense (65.9 points allowed per game) and is among the top rebounding teams in the MAC (2nd, plus-4.8 rebounding margin), but the team has a tough time putting the ball in the basket. The Huskies are averaging 62.6 points per game overall and 56 per MAC contest. They're shooting 34 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range in the league. ... No active NIU player averages in double figures. Darrell Bowie, a 6-foot-6 sophomore wing, averages 9.7 points and 6.8 boards per game, while 5-10 sophomore guard Travon Baker contributes nine points, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game. Baker is averaging 11.7 points in MAC play and has been in double-figures in five straight games. ... The Huskies are 3-5 on the road, and haven't won in Kent since 2003.

Flash Facts

The Flashes have lost three in a row since their come-from-behind win at Northern Illinois, including a tough 81-78 loss at 17-2 Toledo on Sunday. They've also struggled at home recently, losing four of their last five at the M.A.C. Center, where KSU is 200-40 over the past 15 seasons. ... Junior point guard Kris Brewer leads the Flashes in scoring (12.6 ppg) and assists (2.9 apg). Brewer is averaging 14 points and 4.2 assists in MAC play, and is second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5). He scored 25 in the win at NIU two weeks ago. Junior guard Derek Jackson (10.9 points, 3.4 rebounds) and senior forward Darren Goodson (10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists) also average in double figures, while senior forward Mark Henniger leads the team in rebounding (5.3 rpg). ... Sophomore forward Khaliq Spicer and sophomore guard Kellon Thomas were in the starting lineup Sunday at Toledo, and will start once again tonight. ... Kent State is shooting just 64 percent from the free-throw line in MAC games, and is last in the MAC in rebounding margin (minus-4.3) in conference play. ... The Flashes shoot 38.4 percent from 3-point land in wins, compared to just 29.3 percent in losses.

Senderoff on Northern Illinois

"It was a very competitive game at their place. We were fortunate to get a win. They've sort of struggled since that game. I think they were playing with a lot of confidence going into that game, and when you lose a 13-point lead at home with 10 minutes to go, sometimes that can be deflating. They're gonna try to get on track here. They played Toledo very closely last week (like we did), they played Buffalo very tight. We'll need to play well to win."

Senderoff on Kent State

"My biggest thing is that we don't take a step backward in terms of our effort and attitude. Last week, the Western Michigan game (Jan. 23) was incredibly disappointing, and the second half of the Buffalo game (Jan. 18) was incredibly disappointing in terms of effort and attitude. Hopefully we will use Sunday's (Toledo) game as a springboard moving forward."

Countdown to Akron: 3 days.

Email: amoff@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9445

Twitter: @AllenMoff_RC

Facebook: Allen Moff, Record-Courier

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