February 14, 2015

Northern Iowa has faced few obstacles lately while extending its win streak to one of the longest in program history.

A visit to a depleted and struggling Missouri State team on Sunday wouldn't appear to give the 13th-ranked Panthers too many issues either, and they'll attempt to add to their 12-game run with a sixth consecutive victory in the series.

Northern Iowa (23-2, 12-1 Missouri Valley) has won its past four games by an average of 15.3 points, beginning with a 70-54 victory over then-No. 12 Wichita State on Jan. 31. The Panthers are a half-game behind the Shockers in the conference after Wichita's 68-62 win at Illinois State on Saturday.

They'll try to move back into a tie while matching the third-longest win streak in school history. UNI won a school-record 15 in a row in 2009-10.

"I keep talking to the guys about continuing to build and continuing to find some ways to get better," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said.

The Panthers made a season-high 12 3-pointers in their latest victory Wednesday, 83-64 over visiting Illinois State. Seth Tuttle led the way with 23 points and Deon Mitchell went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc for all of his 12 points, his most in nine games.

Northern Iowa was a season-worst 3 of 15 from 3-point range against visiting Missouri State on Jan. 18 and shot 39.3 percent overall. The Panthers, though, held the Bears to 36.8 percent shooting in a 60-46 victory.

That was Missouri State's first game after leading scorer Marcus Marshall announced his intention to transfer. The Bears (9-16, 3-10) have recently lost two more players to injuries - Dorrian Williams (concussion) and Christian Kirk (undisclosed reasons) - and have used seven players in their rotation in the past two games.

The Bears lost 73-66 at Evansville in the latest one Tuesday but had one of their better performances of late. They shot 48.0 percent after averaging 38.5 while losing nine of their prior 10 games, and Camyn Boone had a career-high 21 points.

Missouri State, averaging 53.0 points in its last 11 contests, will face one of the nation's stingiest teams. UNI is allowing 54.8 points per game on 38.2 percent shooting.

The Panthers, winners in five straight on the road, have victories in eight of their last 10 visits to Missouri State but have claimed their last four wins there by a combined 10 points.

"We talk all the time about how hard road games are to win, regardless of who you are playing," Tuttle said.

UNI needed Tuttle's layup with two seconds left for a 60-58 victory in its most recent visit Feb. 15, 2014. Tuttle had 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and nine rebounds in that game.

He's averaging 20.8 points on 72.1 percent shooting (31 of 43) and 9.0 rebounds in his last four games against Missouri State.

"I think he's an All-American. He's one of the best big guys in the country," Bears coach Paul Lusk said. "He's a unique player because he leads them in so many categories, particularly assists. It's amazing."

Jacobson is seeking to become the eighth coach to reach 100 wins in MVC play.

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