This time, Northern Iowa was on the right side of a furious comeback.
The Panthers trailed Oklahoma 43-25 in the second half of the teams’ Tire Pros Invitational semifinal. Things did not look good. But they would go on to outscore the Sooners 48-24 the rest of the way and pick up a 73-67 overtime win.
They’ll play No. 11 Xavier in the championship game Sunday, and in a scheduling quirk, the teams will also play in Cincinnati on Nov. 26.
Whatever happens Sunday, UNI has shown that Wichita State can’t just be handed the Valley crown. Jeremy Morgan has done it all in Orlando (37 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists over two games), playing like a guy that could win MVC Player of the Year. Klint Carlson (41 points, 6-12 3FG) has also been great, and hit some clutch shots against the Sooners.
Most importantly? The Panthers held both Arizona State and Oklahoma to under 0.94 points per possession. Continuing to defend like that should have UNI in most every game it plays the rest of the way.
Here are some other notable results from the season’s second Friday night.
Back-to-back Fun Belt nights? Almost.
Georgia State looked like it was on its way. KenPom gave the Panthers just a 5 percent chance to win in Mackey Arena. Yet there they were holding a 56-44 lead over No. 15 Purdue with under eight minutes to go. In the end it was not Arkansas State 2.0, as the Boilermakers went on a 20-0 run to close the game, stifling the Panther offense. Other than the Georgetown stunner, this was the second near-upset of the season for the Sun Belt, which saw Georgia Southern put a scare in N.C. State a week ago.
SFA’s streak is safe...for now
Stephen F. Austin escaped this week with two wins, but the emphasis is on the word “escape.” The Lumberjacks ran their home winning streak to 30 by beating Div. II Northeastern St., but they had to rally from a late four-point deficit. This came after SFA avoided disaster during the Tip-Off Marathon against Longwood. On the season SFA has not taken care of the ball, punctuated by committing 25 turnovers on Friday night against an inferior opponent. If they keep playing like that, the streak will not make it through the season.
Rio Grande Rivalry goes to the Lobos
New Mexico burst out of halftime with a 15-3 run and took control against New Mexico State in a 72-59 win. Tim Williams (20 points, 5-11 FG) and Elijah Brown (19 points, 6-17 FG) continue to be a difficult duo to deal with. The good news for the Aggies? Ian Baker, who entered the game ice cold, got right scoring 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
An unbeaten Ohio?
The Bobcats beat Georgia Tech 67-61, the lone power conference team on their non-conference schedule. The hardest games left are road trips to Marshall and Iona. There’s a very real chance the Bobcats will be 11-0 heading into MAC play, and we still won’t know that much about them.
Some bonus action:
- Nevada kept Oregon State down after the Lamar upset. The Wolfpack got 24 points from Cameron Oliver in a 25-point blowout in Reno.
- UT-Arlington had a tough week. The Mavericks’ loss to Arkansas dropped them to 1-3, but they have held significant halftime leads in all three defeats. Scott Cross can’t be pleased.
- UT-Martin nearly coughed up a 50-23 halftime lead against Cleveland State, but held on to move to 3-1 win in Anthony Stewart’s debut season. The lone defeat? A three point loss at Ole Miss last Friday. The Sky Hawks may have something.
- The Citadel (you knew they’d make an appearance) gave up 112 points to Stetson...and won. Does it matter how much they scored?