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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s basketball holds on for fourth straight win

Ryanne Sandifer
Sophomore forward Xavier Amos shoots a three-point shot against Appalachian State University on Nov. 11. NIU men’s basketball took down the University of Arkansas at Little Rock 98-93 on Saturday. (Ryanne Sandifer | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU men’s basketball (4-1) survived a second-half comeback attempt from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans (1-2) for a 98-93 win Saturday. 

The Huskies earned their second win in as many days after taking down Georgia State University Friday. Saturday was NIU’s fourth consecutive victory.

It was a balanced attack for the Huskies, as all five NIU starters posted double figures in points. Sophomore forward Xavier Amos led the way with 21 points. Junior guard David Coit stuffed the stat sheet scoring 20 points, and leading the Huskies with 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

“Exciting (having multiple scoring options), it’s a breath of fresh air to have that,” said NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno. “These guys are all cheerleaders for each other, and I didn’t always have that. So to have it now and see these guys really buy into what we’re trying to get accomplished helps us.”

NIU jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first four minutes and led by as many as 20 points in the first half. The Huskies 58 first half points were the most they’ve scored in a half since 2018 against Chicago State University. 

“It was a tale of two halves, we were up 18 (at halftime),” Burno said. “The dangerous part of being up 18 with a fairly young team is I didn’t know if we had enough, especially coming off a really grueling game on Friday. So, I’m happy.”

Despite the Huskies’ dominant first half, Little Rock clawed its way back into the game, cutting the deficit to 3 four times in the second half. Just as he did Friday, Coit saved his best for last, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half. 

“We kind of got complacent from our lead in the first half, but I think we did a good job of staying together and sticking to what we practice and what we work on,” Amos said. “Our preparation for the game helped us pull out the win.”

The high-scoring affair allowed three Huskies to notch career-highs in points. In addition to Amos’ 21 points, senior guard Philmon Gebrewhit scored 19 points and sophomore forward Yanic Konan Niederhauser scored 15 points. 

“Those guys had big nights,” Burno said. “Those guys really had a great 48 hours of preparation physically and mentally which is awesome. My staff did a phenomenal job last night.”

Amos did much of his damage from beyond the arc, shooting 5-for-6 from three-point range. His 21 points were a team-high for the Huskies.

“It really felt good,” Amos said. “My teammates were moving the ball well, I was finding myself open, and I was knocking down shots, but we all played well as a team. We had five players in double figures, so it was a really good team effort.”

The Huskies played a physical brand of basketball, getting to the charity stripe 44 times and knocking down 33 free throws. 

“That (getting to the free throw line) was part of the game plan, but more or less, we saw what was working offensively early, so we just stuck to getting to the rim and drawing fouls,” Amos said.

The second-half comeback attempt from the Trojans forced Burno to play some of his starters more minutes than he wanted to on the second game of a back-to-back.

“I didn’t do a really good job of managing the bench,” Burno said. “I thought (junior guard Zarique) Nutter (37 minutes) and David Coit’s (37 minutes) numbers were way too high. But it’s a learning experience for us, learning experience for the team, but I love teaching through winning.”


The Huskies next game will be at 8 p.m. on Nov. 25 against DePaul University in Chicago. The game will be televised on Fox Sports, and live stats will be available via StatBroadcast.

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