116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — A second-half outburst sent Northern Iowa past Illinois State on Saturday afternoon at McLeod Center, 79-64.
Leading 30-28 at halftime, UNI adjusted defensively after the break and also found its rhythm on offense — going on a 22-3 scoring run that buried any chance of a Redbirds upset.
“The adjustment we made was switching the ball screen in the second half,” UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said. “They had some good opportunities in the first half they didn’t score on. Our pace got better (on offense) once we got a little bit of a lead. Our passing, our pace and our cutting really impacted the game.”
Six Panthers scored during the offensive outburst.
AJ Green — who scored a game-high 24 points — hit two of his six 3-pointers during the run.
Noah Carter, who scored just five and nine points in the Panthers’ last two games after reaching double figures in 11 of his previous 12, added 21.
Since establishing himself as UNI’s second-leading scorer throughout December and January, Carter has had to adjust to opponents placing him higher on their game plans.
“Eight of the conference games, he’s been at 15 (points) or above. So you move up the scouting report. The other thing, we had now been a couple games into where he was starting at the center position, so teams had seen more of that on film,” Jacobson said. “As you see more of it on film, you start to figure out how you want to play (him). He’s playing great.”
Tytan Anderson added eight points off the bench and defensively was a nuisance for the Redbirds. The freshman added five rebounds — three offensive — one block and one steal and provoked multiple Illinois State (10-12, 3-6) turnovers.
“When my number is called, I’ve just got to bring energy like I always do,” Anderson said. “Me and (graduate assistant) Marc (Sonnen) talk all the time. (He says) if you do the little things, you’re going to get time on the court. Not many people are willing to do that, so if you are, you’re going to get some time.”
Before finding its rhythm in the second half, UNI kept its head above water in the first 20 minutes at the free-throw line, converting 12 of 17 attempts, thanks in part to 12 offensive rebounds.
“We have done a good job of getting to the line, getting downhill to do that,” Jacobson said. “I think some of those (free throws) in the first half came on offensive rebounds. Tytan had three of them. I just thought our aggressiveness on the offensive boards played a factor in getting to the free-throw line.”
UNI hosts Bradley (11-10, 5-4) on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN+).