Loyola-Chicago (9-15) at Northern Iowa (11-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 12, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McLeod Center (6,650) -- Cedar Falls, Iowa. Television: PSN. Home Record: Loyola 8-4, UNI 8-2. Away Record: Loyola 0-10, UNI 1-9. Neutral Record: Loyola 1-1, UNI 2-2. Conference Record: Loyola 4-8, UNI 5-7. Series Record: Northern Iowa leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Iowa Panthers will close out a two-game homestand at the McLeod Center on Wednesday night when they play host to the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in Missouri Valley Conference action.
Loyola had lost three straight games prior to its Sunday-afternoon bout with Illinois State at home, which it took down by a 79-69 final. The Ramblers are still in the midst of a lackluster 9-15 season, which includes a 4-8 mark in the MVC, and they have yet to win a road games in 10 tries.
UNI has been trending in the wrong direction since the start of February with three consecutive losses, most recently dropping an 82-73 decision to undefeated Wichita State on Saturday. The Panthers' slide has caused them to fall to 11-13 overall and 5-7 in league action, but they are still an impressive 8-2 on their home floor.
Loyola bested UNI in the first meeting this season on Jan. 25 in overtime, 93-87, although the Panthers still lead the all-time series, 5-2.
The Ramblers held Illinois State to just six first-half field goals on Sunday on their way to a commanding 17-point lead at the break and held on down the stretch for the double-digit victory. In addition to playing great defense, the team shot the ball well from the field (.549) and dominated the rebounding battle, 37-23. Christian Thomas and Joe Crisman both scored 17 points to lead the way, with Thomas adding eight rebounds and four assists to his performance. Milton Doyle netted 14 points and Nick Osborne chipped in 14 points and nine boards.
Despite shooting an outstanding 47.8 percent from the field this season, which ranks 28th in nation, Loyola's slow-tempo style has resulted in a mere 67.0 ppg, but luckily it is able to hold its opponents to just 67.2 ppg on the other end of the floor. Doyle scores a team-best 16.4 ppg, while also finding time to hand out 3.3 apg. Thomas is an anchor in the paint with 13.8 ppg (on 56.3 percent field goal shooting) and 6.8 rpg, while Jeff White (10.6 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Devon Turk (9.4 ppg) are also regular contributors.
The Panthers fought hard with the mighty Shockers over the weekend, trailing by just one early in the second half, but Wichita State promptly ripped off a 12-1 run to pull away. UNI was able to make things interesting by creating 15 turnovers, but it was outshot from the field, 54.2 percent to 42.4 percent, and lost the rebounding battle, 40-24. Matt Bohannon was hot from 3-point range (5-of-9) on his way to 17 points, Seth Tuttle logged 16 points and eight rebounds and Wes Washpun registered 14 points, six assists and five boards off the bench.
UNI typically doesn't have an issue scoring points this season, as it pours in 74.0 ppg on greater than 45 percent field goal shooting, but it has been vulnerable on the defensive end of the floor, allowing 71.6 ppg. Tuttle paces the squad from the frontcourt with 14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg and more than a block per contest. Deon Mitchell (12.8 ppg) dishes out 3.5 apg, Bohannon (10.1 ppg) has knocked down 59 3-pointers at a 38.1 percent clip and Washpun brings 9.3 ppg, 3.8 apg and 0.9 spg to the table.
UNI certainly hasn't been a model of consistency this season, but it has performed well at the McLeod Center, and that paired with the Ramblers' road woes should equal a win for the Panthers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Iowa 68, Loyola-Chicago 61
02/12 10:44:55 ET