Northern Iowa drops Men's Basketball, 73-54

    Anthony Beane led SIU with 17 points.

    Anthony Beane led SIU with 17 points.
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    Feb. 26, 2014

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    CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Northern Iowa extended its home winning streak over Southern Illinois to 11-straight games in an easy 73-54 victory at the McLeod Center on Wednesday night.

    The Panthers (15-14, 9-8) came out sizzling, making their first six shots and rarely letting up thereafter. UNI forward Seth Tuttle dominated the action with 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Northern made 10-of-24 3-point shots.

    Not much went right for the Salukis (12-18, 8-9), who lost by their most lopsided margin of the season. Anthony Beane led SIU with 17 points, Sean O'Brien had 11 and Desmar Jackson added 10, but the Salukis were crushed on the boards, 35-24, and had no answer for Tuttle in the paint.

    SIU elected not to double-team Tuttle in the post, and whenever the 6-foot-8 junior touched the ball, he was a threat to either back his man down for a layup or pitch it out to a shooter for an open three-ball. Matt Bohannon made 5-of-10 treys for UNI and finished with 17 points.

    "Tuttle is the best big man in the league, and when you have to pay so much attention to him, sometimes you can't get out to Bohannon," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson.

    During an 11-0 first-half run, Tuttle either scored or had the assist on every basket except one.

    "When your best player gets seven assists and he's not a point guard, that's pretty impressive," said Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson.

    Beane kept the Salukis in the game with 13 first-half points, including a layup right before the buzzer that cut the halftime deficit to 32-25.

    UNI got rolling right away in the second half with a 10-3 run and led by double digits the rest of the game. The Panthers shot 54 percent in the second half, including 7-of-15 from 3-point.

    "Cohesive might be the best word (to describe the offense)," said Jacobson, whose team had 18 assists on its 26 field goals. "We had a bunch of new guys to start the year, but you can see in the last couple weeks the way we're passing the basketball, some of the things we're getting with our offense, guys have come a long ways."

    The Salukis did not resemble the team that had won six of its last eight games. Tonight, they struggled to defend, rebound and make perimeter shots (4-of-15 from 3-point). Southern's two centers -- Bola Olaniyan and Davante Drinkard -- failed to score in the game and had just one rebound.

    "Everything that got us here, we completely abandoned that tonight, and Northern Iowa had a lot to do with that," Hinson said. "We were 6-2 in our last eight games and we really felt good about ourselves, and it showed. We had a big head and we did not play."

    In the first meeting between the teams in Carbondale on Jan. 14, the Salukis rallied from a 17-point deficit to win by two. They out-rebounded UNI by 10 in that game, and Jacobson said he preached rebounding to his team in practice the last two days.

    "(SIU) has been playing great basketball and to be able to defend them the way we did and out-rebound them, it's a terrific effort by our guys," he said.

    Northern Iowa has a chance to clinch the No. 3 seed in next week's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament by winning Saturday at Indiana State. The Panthers can finish no worse than No. 4.

    "We were sitting in a tough spot two-and-half weeks ago, and now the guys have rattled off four-out-of-five with our defense and rebounding and our effort," Jacobson said.

    Even with the loss, Southern secured no worse than the No. 6 seed at the tournament, meaning it will skip the Thursday play-in game for the first time since 2009. The Salukis have one regular-season contest remaining on Saturday versus Illinois State. With a win over the Redbirds, Southern would earn either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed, while a loss would give SIU the No. 6 slot.

    Approximately 1,300 tickets remain for Saturday's 3 p.m. game versus the Redbirds. Upper bowl seats have been discounted to $5 and a handful of lower bowl tickets are available for $10.