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UNI men’s basketball hosts Belmont in MVC opener on Wednesday

CEDAR FALLS - Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play comes knocking for the UNI men's basketball team as the Panthers play the first of two early league games this week with the Belmont Bruins coming into the McLeod Center on Wednesday night.

CEDAR FALLS – Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play comes knocking for the UNI men’s basketball team as the Panthers play the first of two early league games this week with the Belmont Bruins coming into the McLeod Center on Wednesday night.

Northern Iowa, in search of its first-ever win against the Bruins, returns home after a four-game road trip, which included a loss at South Florida last Sunday and a seventh-place finish at the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. UNI dropped its first two matchups in the Bahamas to No. 14 North Carolina and Texas Tech before scoring a 22-point victory over Stanford on Friday.

In UNI’s commanding victory over the Cardinal, Nate Heise led the Panthers with a game-high 15 points on five-of-ten shooting, while Jacob Hutson tallied a 12-point, four-rebound performance. Bowen Born recorded 11 points with a pair of assists with Tytan Anderson scoring ten points and a game-high eight rebounds, and both Trey Campbell and Kyle Pock finishing with six points each.

Northern Iowa went through the entire first half without a turnover and held Stanford to under 40% shooting in the game for its largest win ever against a Pac-12 Conference opponent and first against a Pac-12 team since defeating No. 23 Colorado in 2019 in Boulder.

Through six games, Heise leads UNI with 15 points and six rebounds per game, with Anderson averaging 10.8 points and six boards per contest. Anderson is currently riding a streak of 38 consecutive games with at least one point scored, the longest stretch of any active Panther. Hutson has notched 10.3 points and Born nine points per game, while Trey Campbell has tallied 7.3 points a game after starting the previous three games.

UNI is 80-10 (.888) under head coach Ben Jacobson when scoring 80+ points, and have won 18 of its last 21 games when scoring 80 or more points.

With UNI’s next victory, Ben Jacobson can pass former Creighton and Saint Louis coach Eddie Hickey for second-place on the Missouri Valley Conference’s (MVC) all-time wins list with 338. Former Oklahoma State coach Henry P. Iba is the MVC’s all-time wins leader with 486 victories.

BELMONT BRUINS
In just their second year as a member of the MVC, the Bruins have found a home and proved to be a competitive challenger for its league opponents. UNI dropped both regular season matchups against Belmont last year by single digits as the Bruins finished in a tie for third-place in the MVC standings before falling in the quarterfinal round of the MVC Tournament by three points to Indiana State.

Belmont picked up a pair of wins last week at the Cathedral of College Basketball Classic in Philadelphia, defeating Penn in double overtime and Lafayette in its last outing. Picked fifth in this year’s MVC preseason poll, the Bruins are led by Preseason First Team All-MVC guard/forward Cade Tyson, the 2023 MVC Freshman of the Year and leading scorer among freshmen last season.

Tyson leads all Bruins with 22.3 points per game, one of three players averaging over 20 points this year in the league, while also leading the MVC in total three point field goals made. Malik Dia and Jayce Willingham lead the Bruins with 38 and 36 total rebounds respectfully., while 2023 MVC All-Freshman and All-Bench guard Ja’Kobi Gillespie leads Belmont with 16 steals.

As a team, Belmont leads the MVC with 18.3 assists per game through their first seven games this year, and have averaged 30.3 points a game from their bench, the second-most in the league.

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