CEDAR FALLS — Better defense and the return of freshman Tytan Anderson helped Northern Iowa get its first road win of the men’s basketball season last Saturday at Southern Illinois.
Among the highlights was a 21-point, 12-rebound performance from Noah Carter, with Anderson providing a lift on defense.
Leading into last weekend’s series against the Salukis, UNI Coach Ben Jacobson pointed out Carter’s offensive ability on the Missouri Valley Conference’s weekly Zoom call, but explained the sophomore’s ability to routinely produce would only come once he began to more consistently guard and rebound.
So, after Carter averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds in the two games against SIU, the 14th-year coach was complimentary of the forward.
“He had his best weekend,” Jacobson said. “He was more competitive defensively. He had some good defensive possessions. He had 12 rebounds in the first game. I think he had eight in the second game. So, we’re seeing it happen right before our eyes.”
Anderson, who missed the first 10 weeks of the season with a knee injury, gave Jacobson’s rotation a boost of energy in his collegiate debut. The former North Scott prep grabbed five steals in a narrow loss on Sunday and added eight points, including two clutch second-half 3-pointers.
“His presence was really good. He only had two practices prior to this past weekend where he did some five-on-five and some up-and-down,” Jacobson said. “He’s a fighter. He’s going to lay it on the line. He wants to win every possession, loose ball, rebound.
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“We knew we’d get that (energy), I didn’t know what kind of production, and obviously he had some production (last) weekend as well.”
Tywhon Pickford, James Betz and Austin Phyfe all were limited by injury in the SIU series last weekend, but Jacobson said he expected all three to return to practice last week and be ready to go for this weekend’s home series against Indiana State.
The Sycamores (10-7, 7-5) come to Cedar Falls riding a six-game winning streak. They’re also the only Missouri Valley Conference team to beat Loyola Chicago.
“They’re doing a nice job of getting the most out of their possessions,” Jacobson said. “They’re grinding people out in the half-court with their offense and working to find a mismatch and take advantage of that. They’re going to make you guard them.”
UNI tips off against Indiana State at 5 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) and wraps up the two-game series on Sunday at 3 p.m. (ESPN3).