Panthers return home with 73-45 rout of Alcorn State
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photo courtesy UNI University Relations (Roland Ferrie)

for The Gazette

Box Score

CEDAR FALLS — There was no Chapel Hill hangover for the Northern Iowa men’s basketball team as it comfortably defeated Alcorn State, 73-45 Monday night at McLeod Center.

UNI made its first three shots against the Braves — two Bennett Koch layups and a Juwan McCloud 3-pointer — then gained its first real breathing room of the evening courtesy of an 18-0 run that extended its lead to 16 at 25-9 with 10 minutes left in the first half.

“I think our rebounding in the first half really set the tone,” UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said. “At both ends we were able to get to the boards. I just felt like Bennett, his presence inside, allowed us to get some things going in the first half. We didn’t have a great first half when you put all 20 minutes together, but we did have the good stretch. When he’s that active that’s going to allow some space for some other guys and we saw that.”

The Panthers dealt with all too familiar offensive struggles the rest of the first half, scoring only nine points and turning it over four times. They then got off to a slow start in the second half, but remained in sync defensively and on the glass, holding on to their double-digit margin before exploding on a 25-10 run in the second.

UNI’s second half run came with a number of positives Jacobson is anticipating his team will build upon. McCloud and Isaiah Brown combined to shoot 9 of 14 from 3, scoring 18 and nine, respectively.

“I talked about this fall, we think those two guys are really good players,” Jacobson said. “The amount of time they’re putting in right now and the amount of confidence that they’re playing with has allowed them to go out and play well so far in the games that we’ve had. We’ve got two really good players right there.”

Also encouraging was Tywhon Pickford and Koch both recording double-doubles. Pickford was challenged by his coaches at halftime to be more active on the glass and the true freshman responded, grabbing seven second-half rebounds. Koch, who had been benched for a lack of hustle in the Panthers exhibition game last Sunday, had seven points and five rebounds in the game’s first 5 1/2 minutes before finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

“Sunday definitely wasn’t the game I thought I should have had,” Koch said. “This was an opportunity to bounce back and show that I can take a hit and bounce back. I’m happy with how (tonight) turned out.”

Northern Iowa outrebounded Alcorn State 47-27 and shot 15 of 27 (55.6 percent) from 3. The Panthers host Wartburg Wednesday night at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls at 7 p.m. Wartburg, a Division III program, is a non-qualifying game for UNI’s RPI Index.

Listen to 2017-18 UNI men's basketball on the Home Of The Panthers, News/Talk 1540 KXEL. Follow @KXELPanthers on Twitter for the latest news, interviews, and more.

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  • Cole Bair handles sports for News/Talk 1540 KXEL, including sportscasts, co-hosting and producing 'On Press Row', contributing to high school football and college football and basketball programs, along with being the driving force behind HomeOfThePanthers.com. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Bair is also an avid golfer and Chicago Cubs fan, and has an excellent rapport with both players and coaches.

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