Panthers battle Redbirds in MVC melee

Jan 25, 2015 - 3:45 PM DeKalb, IL ( - The 20th-ranked Northern Iowa Panthers continue their pursuit of the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference as they challenge the Illinois State Redbirds on Sunday afternoon.

The Panthers trail only Wichita State in the MVC, UNI sporting a league mark of 6-1 while the Shockers are still undefeated at 7-0 as they host Drake on Sunday as well. In sole possession of second place, the Panthers have won six straight and eight of the last nine outings overall in order to get back into the national rankings.

On Wednesday night, Northern Iowa hosted Indiana State and managed to get by with a 66-60 win at the McLeod Center.

As for the Redbirds, they are in the second tier of teams in the MVC with four wins in seven league opportunities. Earlier this week the team took down Drake on the road, 64-56, marking it second straight victory and the fourth in five games. The one setback during the stretch was a 71-70 overtime defeat at the hands of Indiana State on the road 11 days ago.

Illinois State owns a 37-29 edge in the all-time series, but they've split their last eight meetings in the previous three seasons.

Except for Marvin Singleton who tallied four points in 32 minutes of action, every starter scored in double figures for the Panthers during their win over Indiana State. Matt Bohannon converted 5-of-8 shots behind the 3-point line in order to arrive at 17 points, followed by Seth Tuttle who used 10-of-12 shooting at the free-throw line to post 16 points, adding a team-best nine rebounds as well. Jeremy Morgan, 8-of-8 at the charity stripe, logged 11 points and Deon Mitchell 10 on a perfect 3-of-3 out on the perimeter.

The 60 points allowed to Indiana State was the most surrendered to a conference foe and still the Panthers are giving up only 49.6 ppg in league action as those opponents shoot 35.2 percent from the field and 28.6 percent beyond the arc. Offensively, Tuttle takes most of the responsibility to carry UNI with his 16.6 ppg, not to mention pacing the group with 6.7 rpg and 21 assists along the way.

Illinois State made good on 50.0 percent from the field against Drake at the Knapp Center, offsetting a 4-of-14 effort beyond the arc, en route to the eight-point road win. Daishon Knight led the way with 20 points and Reggie Lynch tacked on 13 and nine rebounds, five of which came at the offensive end of the floor. The difference in the contest came at the charity stripe where ISU outscored the Bulldogs 16-8.

Against the rest of the MVC, Knight is posting a team-best 16.1 ppg, thanks to a stellar 51.7 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line. However, Knight isn't even the top threat on the outside, that honor goes to Bobby Hunter, a reserve in all but one of seven league bouts who has converted 60.9 percent of his 23 tries on the perimeter. As a group, the Redbirds are hitting at a 41.5 percent clip beyond the arc.

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