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Battle-tested UNI looks to finish strong before break

December 23, 2012
By TIMES-REPUBLICAN STAFF ( , Times-Republican

CEDAR FALLS - If the Northern Iowa men's basketball team can figure out how to get to the McLeod Center, the Panthers will host Saint Mary's today.

Northern Iowa will be playing on its home court for the first time in 17 days when the Panthers take on the Gaels at 1 p.m.

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon but was pushed back due to the inclement weather affecting Saint Mary's travel schedule.

The Panthers come into the game with a record of 6-5 but have had a challenging schedule with the losses coming against Iowa, Stanford and nationally-ranked Memphis, Louisville and UNLV.

"We have made progress on offense since our three straight losses in the Bahamas," UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. "We are running sharper screens and have better movement. We are also rebounding the ball better."

The schedule does not get any easier with the Gaels, who are one of just five programs that have won at least 25 games in each of the last five seasons.

Fact Box

Saint Mary's (8-2) at Northern Iowa (6-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

McLeod Center, Cedar Falls

Saint Mary's returns four starters from last year's 27-6 team. The Gaels have won four straight and are currently 8-2 on the season.

The Panthers enter today's game with a 10-game home winning streak, which ranks 11th best in the nation.

If UNI is to extend the streak against the Gaels, the Panthers will have to stop Matthew Dellavedova, a returning starter who is averaging nearly 20 points and six assists per game.

Second-leading scorer Stephen Holt will likely miss the game due to an injury, but Brad Waldow (11.4) and James Walker III (10.3) also are averaging in double-figures.

Deon Mitchell is leading the Panthers at 12.4 points and 3.6 assists per game, while Anthony James also is averaging in double-figures at 10.3 per game. Jake Koch, Marc Sonnen and Seth Tuttle are all averaging just less than 10 points per game. Koch is the team's leading rebounder at 6.5 boards per game.

The Gaels are coming off a blowout win over Pacific, while Northern Iowa most recently lost to No. 21 UNLV. Both games were played last Wednesday.



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