Northern Iowa (12-13) at Missouri State (17-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (11,000) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Northern Iowa 9-2, Missouri State 12-1. Away Record: Northern Iowa 1-9, Missouri State 4-6. Neutral Record: Northern Iowa 2-2, Missouri State 1-1. Conference Record: Northern Iowa 6-7, Missouri State 7-6. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 40-26.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Missouri Valley Conference programs jockeying for position near the top of the standings meet on Saturday night, as the Northern Iowa Panthers visit the Missouri State Bears at JQH Arena.
Led by Keith Pickens' 18 points, the Missouri State Bears downed the Drake Bulldogs, 69-63, on Wednesday. Christian Kirk added 12 points and Jarmar Gulley scored 11 for the Bears, whose three wins in their last four games have moved them into third place in the conference standings heading into the weekend.
Gulley leads the team in scoring this season at 14.8 ppg on 48.4 percent shooting. His 6.0 rpg average and 39 steals are both team-highs as well. Marcus Marshall, who is out after undergoing knee surgery, is the only other player on the roster averaging double digits. Austin Ruder is the next closest at 8.3 ppg. Dorrian Williams tops the squad with 88 assists.
The Panthers also recorded a win on Wednesday, as Nate Buss came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points to help the team dismiss the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, 80-58. Buss shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range for UNI, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Marvin Singleton and Matt Bohannon chipped in 12 points apiece for the hosts, while Deon Mitchell and Seth Tuttle added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
UNI shot a blistering 63.2 percent from the field in the first half, including 8-of-12 from 3-point range, and won the rebounding battle, 34-24. UNI has won eight straight games when it has outrebounded its opponent.
The Panthers typically don't have an issue scoring points this season, as they pour in 74.2 ppg on greater than 45 percent field goal shooting, but it has been vulnerable at the defensive end where it allows 71.0 ppg. Tuttle paces the squad from the frontcourt with 14.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg and more than a block per contest. Mitchell (12.8 ppg) dishes out 3.6 apg, Bohannon (10.2 ppg) has knocked down 63 3-pointers at a 38.2 percent clip, and Buss upped his season scoring average into double digits (11.1 ppg) with his last outing.
UNI has won four of the last five meetings at JQH Arena and took a 94-89 win over the Bears when they met on Jan. 18. The Panthers, who have only one true road win to their credit this season, shot 67.4 percent in the win and still only squeaked out a five-point victory. Missouri State has been playing better since the last meeting, and the home court advantage, where they are 12-1, should make the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri State 80, Northern Iowa 75
02/15 10:20:46 ET