North Dakota (1-1) at Northern Iowa (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McLeod Center (6,650) -- Cedar Falls, Iowa. Television: None. Home Record: UND 1-0, UNI 2-0. Away Record: UND 1-0, UNI 0-0. Neutral Record: UND 0-0, UNI 0-0. Conference Record: UND 0-0, UNI 0-0. Series Record: North Dakota leads, 50-31.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Iowa Panthers will close out a season-opening three- game homestand on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the North Dakota Fighting Sioux to the McLeod Center.
North Dakota had a tough draw in its first game last Friday as it went on the road to play Kansas State and lost, 85-52. Things went a little more smoothly in the team's home opener on Wednesday, as it shot nearly 50 percent from the field and led wire-to-wire against Division III foe Crown College, coming out on top, 87-51.
After an easy 103-50 win over Wartburg in its opener, UNI followed that up with a hard-fought battle against Toledo. The back-and-forth matchup needed an extra session to be solved, and Panthers were able to outlast the Rockets in overtime, 84-81. They have won 34 of 41 contests against non-conference opponents at home since the McLeod Center opened in 2006, and they improved to 15-0 in their home building in the month of November.
North Dakota leads the all-time series with UNI, 50-31, but the Panthers have won the last three meetings.
During North Dakota's rout of Crown College, it shot a lofty 54.5 percent from three-point range (12-of-22), which it hopes is a sign of things to come considering the team made just 33 percent of its triples a season ago. Aaron Anderson was the catalyst in the victory as he dropped in 18 points on 4-of-10 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, and he also handed out a career-high eight assists. Sophomore Lenny Antwi was also impressive, posting a career-night in his first-ever start with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Sioux was Josh Schuler (13 points) and Jordan Allard (12 points, seven rebounds). Troy Huff, who was the team's leading scorer a year ago (13.1 ppg) and has started 37 consecutive games, did not play after suffering an injury in the Kansas State game.
In a game that featured 11 ties and nine lead changes, UNI was able to beat Toledo thanks in large part to the outstanding effort from the foul line, where it nailed 32-of-39 attempts compared to just 10-of-14 for its opponent. While the Panthers had merely a modest night from the floor (.434), the same could not be said of Deon Mitchell, who connected on 8-of-11 field goal attempts en route to a career-high 27 points. Mitchell's start to the season has been spectacular, as the sophomore is averaging 22.5 ppg on nearly 79 percent field goal shooting while dishing out 11 assists against only four turnovers. Mitchell wasn't the only Panther with a great game, as Seth Tuttle recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 boards and also added two steals and a blocked shot. Jake Koch and Marc Sonnen each chipped in with 11 points, and the UNI starting lineup contributed 77 of the team's 84 points on the night.
North Dakota is the two-time defending champions of the Great West Conference and it has the ability to make a splash in its first year as a member of the Big Sky Conference, but it does not match up well with the talent the Panthers possess. UNI received four votes in the latest AP poll, and since the Panthers are at home, they should be able to muster up another satisfying win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Iowa 77, North Dakota 62
11/17 10:35:09 ET