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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 5, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Redbird Arena (10,000) -- Normal, Illinois. Television: none. Home Record: UNI 8-1, ISU 8-3. Away Record: UNI 1-8, ISU 3-6. Neutral Record: UNI 2-2, ISU 1-1. Conference Record: UNI 5-5, ISU 5-5. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 36-28.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams off to mediocre starts meet up tonight at Redbird Arena when Northern Iowa welcomes Illinois State in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Panthers have dropped three of their last four contests, including Saturday's 87-81 setback at home against Indiana State. Deon Mitchell led all scorers with 21 points. Wes Washpun had 18 points and six assists, and Seth Tuttle tallied a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
When it comes to point production in conference games, Northern Iowa is at the top with 77.7. That's ahead of unbeaten Wichita State. Also, the Panthers are averaging 10.3 3-pointers made per game, which leads the MVC. They're also in first in shooting from beyond the arc (41.0 percent), free-throw percentage (75.6 percent) and assists (15.8 apg).
Mitchell (13.3 ppg), a junior guard, is on a roll of late with three straight games of at least 20 points. It's the first time that's been accomplished for the Panthers since Robbie Sieverding did it in the 2001-02 season. The last UNI player to score 20 or more in four consecutive games was Jason Daisy, who did it in nine straight contests, Jan. 2-25, 1997. Washpun (9.4 ppg) is shooting 47.1 percent from the floor, but during conference games has really increased his accuracy as evidenced by a league-leading 59.7 percent shooting. He's 9-of-12 from 3-point range in MVC contests. Tuttle (14.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg) paces the conference on the boards. Junior forward Nate Buss (10.8 ppg) and sophomore guard Matt Bohannon (9.4 ppg) are other key contributors on offense. Bohannon is also hot from long-distance, as he's making 47.2 percent (34- of-72) since conference play began.
Illinois State ended its three-game skid with a 75-57 home win over Drake Saturday. Bobby Hunter scored a career-best 19 points and dished out a team- best four assists. Nick Zeisloft chipped in 15 points for Illinois State, connecting on 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Reggie Lynch and Zach Lofton each tallied 10 points for the Redbirds.
Defense has been a strong point for the Redbirds, who lead the MVC in steals (7.4 spg) and are second in blocks (4.4 bpg). Junior guard Daishon Knight (12.5 ppg) leads the team in scoring and is a perfect 23-for-23 at the free- throw line in league-play. Hunter (10.5 ppg) and Lofton (10.4 ppg) are also part of the starting lineup for a team that is last in the MVC in field-goal percentage (.402).
Illinois State has won eight of its last nine at home. Expect this to be a tight outcome, but if the Redbirds can limit good outside looks from Bohannon, Chip Rank and Washpun, the hosts may squeeze out a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois State 73, Northern Iowa 71
02/05 10:33:04 ET