Men’s basketball has last shot to win


Sophomore Travon Baker drops in a layup against Kent State Jan. 15 at the Convocation Center. Men’s basketball will play Ball State in its last regular season home game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

By Brian Earle

Men’s basketball will look to earn a win in its regular season finale at home on Senior Day against Ball State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Huskies’ (13-16, 7-10 MAC) matchup with the Cardinals (5-23, 2-15 MAC) has huge implications as to whether NIU will host a home game or be on the road in the first round of the MAC Tournament. With a victory NIU would lock down the No. 8 seed in the MAC and host a game in DeKalb.

NIU will look to snap its two-game losing streak after falling to Eastern and Western Michigan in two tightly contested games. The Cardinals have struggled this season as they are in last place in the conference, losing 11 of their last 12 games in the process.

The Huskies got the best of the Cardinals in their first meeting earlier this season in Muncie, Ind., defeating them 67-65 in overtime. Guard Aaric Armstead led the Huskies with a then-career-high 14 points while knocking down two 3-pointers, and center Jordan Threloff poured in 13 points.

The Cardinals are anchored by big man Majok Majok, who is averaging a double-double, scoring 10.6 points per game while pulling down 10.2 rebounds per game.

Guard Chris Bond leads the Cardinals in scoring, averaging 12.7 points per game. He is their most aggressive guard in terms of driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line.

The Cardinals’ other guards are streaky shooters who can get hot from behind the 3-point line. Jesse Berry leads the team with 64 3-point field goals while Zavier Turner has knocked down 58 triples while shooting 41 percent from behind the arc.

Armstead will continue to be instrumental in order for the Huskies to have success as he is a possible freshman of the year candidate. In his last seven games he has averaged 13.6 points per game and is the third-highest scoring freshman in the MAC this season while grabbing 4.6 rebounds per game, which is second among freshmen in the MAC.

The Huskies will also look to continue to feed their big man inside, Threloff, who has scored in double figures in nine of his last 13 games. Over that stretch, he has been efficient in the post, averaging 12.4 points per game while grabbing 8.5 rebounds per game.