Men's Basketball Preview: Kent State at Northern Illinois

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

Men's Basketball

Kent State at Northern Illinois

• Who: Kent State (11-9, 2-4 MAC) vs. Northern Illinois (4-14, 2-4 MAC)

• When/Where: Tonight, 8 p.m./NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Ill.

• Radio: WHLO 640 AM.

Head Coaches: Rob Senderoff, Kent State (32-21, 2nd season); Mark Montgomery, Northern Illinois (9-40, 2nd season at NIU).

• 2011-12 Records: Kent State 21-12, 10-6 MAC; Northern Illinois 5-26, 3-13 MAC.

• Last Season: The Flashes defeated the Huskies 90-56 in Kent.

• Kent State Leaders: Senior forward Chris Evans ranks among the top four in the MAC in scoring (2nd, 17.1 ppg), rebounding (4th, 7.4) and steals (4th, 1.9 spg). He's also shooting 36.8 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Randal Holt is second on the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and tied for first in the MAC in 3-pointers made (47), while sophomore guard Kris Brewer is third in scoring (8.6 ppg) and leads the team in assists (2.3 apg).

• Scouting Northern Illinois: The Huskies are coming off a downright bizarre loss at Eastern Michigan. They scored just four points in the first half, shooting 3 percent from the field, (1-of-31) and missing their final 29 field-goal attempts. They wound up shooting 13 percent from the floor (8-of-61), including 1-of-33 from 3-point range for the game while falling 42-25. ... The Huskies are last in the MAC in scoring (55.8 ppg) and a distant last in field-goal percentage (35.6 percent), nearly five percent lower than next-to-last Eastern Michigan (39.8). They're also last in 3-point shooting (26.3 percent). However, they are third in steals (8.4 spg) and first in offensive rebounding (13.7 rpg). ... Sophomore wing Abdel Nader (6-foot-7) leads NIU in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (4.7 rpg). No other Huskies player is averaging more than eight points per game.

• Flash Facts: For the second Wednesday in a row, the Flashes will attempt to bounce back from a tough home loss. They failed miserably last week, falling 70-55 at Bowling Green after letting a 10-point halftime lead slip away against rival Akron. This time, they'll try to ease the pain of last Saturday's 69-68 loss to Ohio, and snap a three-game losing streak. ... Kent State is currently in a four-way tie for third/last place in the MAC East Division. The Zips and Bobcats are both unbeaten (6-0), while the rest of the division is 2-4. ... Freshman Khaliq Spicer is expected to start at forward once again for the Flashes because the struggles of juniors Melvin Tabb and Chris Ortiz. Tabb has made just 7-of-21 field goals and has seven turnovers with zero assists in MAC play, while Ortiz has not scored in four games since returning from a foot injury suffered in late November. ... Holt is shooting 36.7 percent from 3-point range and 31 percent on two-pointers.

• Senderoff on Northern Illinois: "Two things they do well is force turnovers and rebound, and those are two areas we've had problems with. This is a huge game for us. Last Saturday it was a really tough loss where we played incredibly hard, and we did not respond very well (in the next game at BG). I'm putting it on Chris Evans and Randal (Holt) for us to respond on Wednesday. My seniors have to step up and take the responsibility of making sure our team is focused and plays as hard at Northern Illinois as we did tonight. When you lose a game like this it's not easy to bounce back. But we have to bounce back. We have to string some wins together, but you have to get the first win first."

• Next: The Golden Flashes will host Eastern Michigan (10-10, 3-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m.

-- ALLEN MOFF

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