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Saturday recap: Northern Iowa gets thumped, Utah Valley pulls off a big upset

Also: Vermont wins again, a battle in Massachusetts, and another champion is crowned

NCAA Basketball: Northern Iowa at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Iowa entered Saturday with the opportunity to make a national statement: to tell the world that it was a national contender, not merely a mid-major force. The Panthers played Xavier close last week at the Tire Pros Invitational, and now they had an opportunity to beat the ninth-ranked team in the country.

Instead, the Musketeers raced out to a 35-12 halftime lead and humiliated the Panthers, 64-42, to beat Northern Iowa for the second time in as many games, thanks to a scheduling quirk.

As the score indicates, offense was a struggle for Northern Iowa. The Panthers shot just 33 percent for the game and made only eight field goals from inside the arc. Their 14 turnovers didn’t help, nor did Xavier’s 42-20 command on the glass.

Northern Iowa is now 3-2 on the season, but each of its last four games have come against major-conference competition. The Panthers will next face George Mason at home on Wednesday.

Utah Valley drops 114 points on BYU

The Wolverines not only shocked the Cougars in Provo, but they did so by beating BYU at its own game. BYU loves to push the tempo and can score in bunches. Coincidentally, so does Utah Valley, and on Saturday, Utah Valley just did it better en route to the 114-101 win.

The Wolverines are now 4-1 and will have another shot at winning a buy game on Wednesday when they visit Washington State.

After the game, head coach Mark Pope was already looking toward the future:

"This is a great win for us and a great night but we have so much growing to do," said Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope. "This won't be the best moment we have at Utah Valley. We still have so much work that we have to do and we can become such a better team but this is a really special night for us and we're grateful to have the opportunity to play the game."

Read our full recap of the game here.

Vermont with another impressive outing

Three days after nearly upsetting Houston, the Vermont Catamounts knocked off the Yale Bulldogs, 67-65.

Ernie Duncan was the hero for the Catamounts — he broke a 65-65 tie on a layup with one second left to win the game. He finished with nine points and six rebounds.

Anthony Lamb led Vermont with 18 points on 8-14 shooting, while Miye Oni had 19 for the Bulldogs.

With the win, Vermont is now 6-2, and for the moment, has broken the top 100 in KenPom. The Catamounts will get their biggest test of the year next, however, when they visit South Carolina on Thursday.

Tough day for the Ivy League

Yale wasn’t the only Ivy League team to struggle on Saturday. Overall, the league went 1-5 for the day, with Columbia beating Colgate in overtime for the Ivy’s lone victory.

Among those losses: another tough defeat for Harvard. The Crimson were an Ivy League favorite coming into the year but now are just 1-3 and still in search of their first Division I victory.

Saturday’s loss for Harvard came against in-state rival Massachusetts, 70-66. Penn (70-68 to Navy) and Dartmouth (75-69 to Marist) also suffered close losses, while Cornell was blown out by Houston, 83-53.

Two more champions crowned

Akron won the 2016 Savannah Invitational on Saturday in a 65-63 thriller over Mercer.

Isaiah Johnson, who finished with 19 points, was named MVP of the event in its inaugural year. His layup with 1:34 to play gave the Zips the lead for good, as they only allowed Mercer to attempt one shot the rest of the game.

Akron has now won five straight games, with the last three coming against KenPom top-200 opponents.

Meanwhile in Alaska, Jon Severe made up for a rare quiet night by hitting the game-winning layup with half a second left, as Iona topped Nevada 75-73 in the Great Alaska Shootout title game.

The Fordham transfer finished with just eight points, but the Gaels were led by UConn transfer Sam Cassell Jr., who finished with 20.

This was the second matchup of the season between the two teams. Nevada beat Iona at home on Nov. 20, 91-76.

Also of note:

  • Loyola fell to NC State, 79-77 in Raleigh in somewhat controversial fashion. Milton Doyle appeared to have been in the final seconds while attempting what would have been a game-tying shot, but nothing was called.
  • George Washington gave up 51 second-half points and fell to Penn State, 74-68. The Colonials are now 3-3.
  • Alaska-Anchorage beat Drake in the Great Alaska Shootout, 74-69. The Bulldogs appear to be in for another rough year, but it’s always fun to see the D-II host win a game in this event.
  • Stony Brook came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Hampton, 76-66, for the Seawolves’ first win of the year.
  • We tried Facebook Live today at Barclays Center. Here’s what Chris Mooney had to say after his Richmond Spiders beat Boston College: