Northern Iowa (16-11) at Missouri State (8-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 19, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (11,000) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: UNI 12-2, MSU 7-6. Away Record: UNI 4-5, MSU 1-11. Neutral Record: UNI 0-4, MSU 0-2. Conference Record: UNI 9-6, MSU 6-9. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 40-24.
GAME NOTES: Winners of five in a row, the Northern Iowa Panthers take their act on the road Tuesday night as they challenge the Missouri State Bears in Missouri Valley Conference action at JQH Arena.
The Panthers, currently 9-6 in conference which is good enough for a third- place tie with Indiana State entering the week, took the floor against the Drake Bulldogs over the weekend and captured a 71-64 victory on the road. With the win, UNI moved to within a game of .500 in true road games at 4-5.
Meanwhile, the Bears find themselves close to the bottom of the MVC with just six wins in 15 attempts. The squad was rattled by Southern Illinois on Saturday in a 62-54 decision, marking the third loss in the last three outings for Missouri State.
Missouri State leads the all-time series by a 40-24 margin, but the Panthers are the ones who picked up the victory in the first meeting of the season earlier this month in Cedar Falls, 48-37.
Marc Sonnen knocked down 5-of-10 shots behind the 3-point line on Saturday night in Des Moines, finishing with 17 points which matched Anthony James in the scoring department as Northern Iowa took out the Drake Bulldogs. Chip Rank and Jake Koch both logged 11 points and five rebounds for the visitors, as they got away with only 26 boards, while shooting an impressive 13-of-26 out on the perimeter.
The Panthers are scoring only 62.7 ppg in league play, but the good news is that the defense has stepped up the pressure and limited opponents to only 58.0 ppg. James (13.3 ppg), Koch (10.4 ppg) and Seth Tuttle (10.1 ppg) are the major scoring threats much of the time, while the last two are tied with 6.1 rpg and have combined for 32 of the unit's 39 blocked shots.
Poor shooting from behind the 3-point line (3-of-16) was one of the major issues for the Bears in their latest outing over the weekend, enough to keep the team from matching Southern Illinois on the road in Carbondale. Anthony Downing, who hit on 2-of-7 out on the perimeter, finished with 20 points to tie for the game-high, while Christian Kirk stepped up with 13 points and five rebounds in a reserve role.
Like the Panthers, Missouri State is far from an offensive powerhouse with just 59.7 ppg this season. The team has two players scoring in double figures at the moment in Downing (13.8 ppg) and Marcus Marshall (10.4 ppg), but both are shooting under 40 percent from the floor which doesn't help their cause.
Expect another low-scoring battle between these two squads, although the points should be more readily available than they were in the first meeting. With more options to lean on, the Panthers should be able to complete the season sweep even though they are on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Iowa 59, Missouri State 53
02/19 10:32:54 ET