DE KALB, Ill. (AP) Jordan Lynch threw for 407 yards and three touchdowns Wednesday night and Northern Illinois defeated Toledo 31-24 to claim a spot in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
Lynch also ran for 162 yards for the Huskies (10-1, 7-0), who extended the longest home winning streak in Division I to 21 games. The defending MAC champions won their 10th straight game and wrapped up the West Division title to advance to the conference championship Nov. 30 in Detroit.
Toledo (8-3, 5-2) led 14-7 at halftime, but 18 seconds into the third quarter Lynch hooked up with Martel Moore for a 74-yard touchdown pass, their second scoring connection of the game. NIU went ahead 21-14 on Lynch's 6-yard TD pass to Ashford Perez.
The Rockets trailed 31-14 but got within seven points after Jeremiah Detmer's 34-yard field goal with 5:57 left. The Huskies picked up three first downs and ran out the clock.
Moore had 153 yards receiving for NIU. Terrance Owens threw for 265 yards and ran for a score for Toledo.
*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.
*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.
*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.
*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.
*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.
Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.
The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.
Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.
Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.