CEDAR FALLS – UNI men’s basketball fought off a furious second half effort by Illinois State and rode the hot hand of freshman guard Trey Campbell to victory as the Panthers defeated the Redbirds 65-63 on Wednesday night inside the McLeod Center.
The Panthers have now won 9 consecutive games against Illinois State and sweep the regular season series from the Redbirds for a third straight season.
Illinois State challenged UNI with a potent interior defense, forcing the Panthers to attack from mid-range, as well as from beyond the arc. While the Redbirds attacked inside, the Panthers found a spark from long range with Campbell knocking down 4 three-point shots in the first half as part of a 14-point opening stanza. UNI led by as many as 10 points in the opening period but saw the Redbirds tie the game at 30 all in the final seconds of the half before Campbell sent the Panthers to the locker room with a narrow lead after a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Redbirds quickly pounced on the UNI defense to begin the second period, cutting into the Panther lead and ultimately clinching a 6-point advantage on a Seneca Knight dunk. After a sloppy first half with turnovers committed on both sides, UNI turned the ball over just 3 times in the second half and slowly chipped away at Illinois State’s lead as Michael Duax helped the Panthers get a footing offensively in the paint. Using a 14-6 run over a 5:43 span midway through the period, the Panthers bolted back into the lead as both teams clawed for every basket in the final minutes. UNI took a 3-point lead entering the final minute of play as the Panther defense stopped a potential game-tying three-pointer by Joe Petrakis with 8 seconds to play and held on for a 2-point win after a late Redbird layup.
Campbell ended the night with a career-high 20 points and 6 made three-point field goals, while Bowen Born notched 11 points and 4 assists. Landon Wolf tallied 9 points with a pair of three-pointers, as Michael Duax scored 8 points in the win. James Betz posted a 5-point game, with Cole Henry totaling 4 points and a game-high 7 rebounds.
UNI narrows its all-time series record with Illinois State after Wednesday’s win, trailing the Redbirds 45-44.
Head coach Ben Jacobson picked up his 180th Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) game win on Wednesday. Jacobson is now 3 wins shy of passing former Creighton coach Dana Altman for second on the MVC’s all-time wins list for conference only games.
The Panthers improve to 8-2 this season when leading at halftime, and earn their first win of the year when trailing with 5 minutes to play in regulation.
UNI has held its opponent to under 70 points in 12 games this season, holding an 8-4 record in such contests. The Panthers have won 7 straight games holding the opposition under 70 points.
The Panthers hit the road this Saturday to take on the UIC Flames for the first-time as MVC opponents. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT at Credit Union 1 Arena in Chicago. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and on the Panther Sports Radio Network.