Saturday , Feb , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Slumping Northern Iowa takes on Southern Illinois

(Sports Network) – Fresh off perhaps their most embarrassing loss of the
season, the 25th-ranked Northern Iowa Panthers will attempt to bounce back
against the Southern Illinois Salukis today in Missouri Valley Conference
action. Northern Iowa appeared to be the class of the league early on, but
the squad has lost three of its last four games to fall out of the race
for the MVC regular season title. On Wednesday, the Panthers were completely
dominated from start to finish in a 71-49 loss to Bradley. Northern Iowa
and Southern Illinois enter today’s contest with identical 11-6 conference

The Salukis are slumping as well, as they have suffered three consecutive
defeats. Only twice this season have they scored at least 70 points in a
contest, proof that strong defense is key to their success. On Tuesday,
they dropped a 64-59 decision on the road to Evansville. Northern Iowa
recorded a 71-65 victory over Southern Illinois in the first meeting this
season, but the Salukis own a 23-11 advantage in the all-time series between
the teams.

Northern Iowa connected on only 38.2 percent of its field goal attempts on
Wednesday, including a 5-of-20 effort from three-point range. The squad was
also outscored 9-2 from the foul line and outrebounded by a 33-23 margin.
Defensively, the Panthers allowed Bradley to connect on 59.6 percent of its
field goal attempts. Ben Jacobson led the way in defeat with 16 points, and
Erik Crawford pitched in 15 points.

Overall this season, Jacobson is scoring 14.3 ppg despite his lackluster
38.8 percent shooting from the floor. He is also tops with 105 assists and
48 steals. Eric Coleman is netting 12.2 ppg on 58.2 percent shooting from
the field, and he is also pulling down 7.1 rpg. Grant Stout is posting
12.0 ppg and a team-high 9.1 rpg, and Crawford rounds out the double-digit
scorers with 10.2 ppg. The Panthers are scoring 67.9 ppg this season while
limiting opponents to 59.0 ppg on 40.7 percent shooting from the field.

Southern Illinois shot 38.5 percent from the floor in the loss to Evansville
earlier this week, and a high total of 19 turnovers certainly didn’t help the
cause. The Salukis were also outscored 20-11 from the foul line in what was a
disappointing overall performance. Leading the way in defeat were Jamaal Tatum
and Tony Young with 15 points apiece. While no other player reached double
figures in scoring for SIU, Matt Shaw did pull down 10 rebounds.

The Salukis are only averaging 61.3 ppg this season on 41.7 percent
shooting from the floor, but they are limiting opponents to 57.4 ppg on 40.7
percent efficiency. Tatum is the most capable offensive performer on the
roster, as he is posting 15.0 ppg despite his woeful 36.5 percent shooting
from the floor. Young adds 12.1 ppg to the mix.