8:05 PM ET, February 7, 2006
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) -- Wearing a different jersey than usual and missing shot after shot, Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson hardly looked like himself during the first half of Tuesday night's game against Wichita State.But soon after team managers scrubbed the blood off his familiar No. 12 jersey, Jacobson found his shooting stroke and led the 25th-ranked Panthers to a 68-56 victory, one of their biggest of an already special season.Eric Coleman scored 20 points and Jacobson had all 15 of his in the second half for the Panthers, who moved into the Top 25 last week for the first time in school history.The loss knocked the Shockers out of a three-way tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings. The Panthers (21-4, 11-3) have won seven of their last eight games and are tied for first in the Valley with Creighton, which beat Evansville on Tuesday."I'm thrilled with this victory simply because we just beat a heck of a basketball team," Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott said. "I don't think it's any secret that Wichita State was playing as well as anyone in our league."Jacobson was hit on the nose going for a rebound midway through the first half. His jersey was drenched in blood and, according to NCAA rules, he had to change shirts. He switched to the one worn by injured teammate Erik Crawford.Jacobson was 0-for-5 from the field in the first half. But after switching back to his own jersey for the second half, Jacobson looked -- and played -- like the league's preseason Player of the Year, keying a late run that put the game out of reach.With the game tied at 50, Jacobson pushed the Panthers back on top with a 3-pointer from 25 feet, then hit fadeaway jumpers from 15 and 18 feet to push the lead to 61-52.Jacobson stole the ball from PJ Couisnard beneath the basket on Wichita State's next possession, and capped the spurt with a runner with 1:25 left that made it 65-54."The difference in the game was that it 50 to 50, and they hit shots and we didn't during that stretch," Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon said. "Jacobson made some tough, tough shots."Jacobson wasn't as aggressive on offense as he usually is in the opening half, settling for bad looks with the shot clock winding down.But with the game on the line, he came through with the kind of big shots that have become his trademark."In the second half I kind of got it going a little bit. Coach put the ball in my hands and ran some plays for me, and I was able to hit some shots," Jacobson said.Couisnard led the Shockers with 17 points and Sean Ogirri added 11. Paul Miller, Wichita State's leading scorer, was held to seven points on 3-of-12 shooting.The Shockers, the Valley's best rebounding team, got beat 34-30 on the boards and shot 37 percent.The loss completed a sweep of the season series for Northern Iowa."You look at the stats and you'll wonder how we were even in the game," Turgeon said. "They're just really smart defensively."Grant Stout had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers, who shot 52 percent from the field, including 6-of-16 from 3-point range.Northern Iowa opened the second half with a 9-3 run to go ahead 43-33 with 17:34 left. The Shockers responded with a 17-7 run to tie it at 50.Coleman scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting as the Panthers took a 34-30 halftime lead. Northern Iowa broke open a half that saw 12 lead changes with an 11-3 run, as Coleman followed two 3-pointers by Brooks McKowen with two bank shots inside as the Panthers went ahead 30-23."We were able to establish the inside game early, which I thought was so important," McDermott said. "To have Coleman come out and do what he did in the first half just set the tone."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||22-60 (.367)||24-46 (.522)|
|3P Made-Attempted||9-23 (.391)||6-16 (.375)|
|FT Made-Attempted||3-3 (1.000)||14-21 (.667)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||7 (0/0)|