CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - University of Northern Iowa freshman guard Deon Mitchell scored a career-high 17 points and led the Panthers to a 58-49 Missouri Valley Conference victory over the visiting Southern Illinois Salukis in the McLeod Center.
UNI (15-9 overall, 5-7 MVC) was also helped by a sophomore forward Chip Rank's 13 points off the bench. Rank made all four shots from the field, including two from 3-point land.
SIU fell to 7-16 overall and 4-8 in the MVC. The Salukis were led by Jeff Early's 13 points and Mamadou Seck's 10 points and eight rebounds.
"Deon is at his best in transition and in the open court," UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said. "He's got the go-ahead at all times. Those are some big plays he made tonight. He was terrific."
Mitchell keyed a 14-5 second-half run that turned a 42-39 deficit into a 50-44 lead for the Panthers. Mitchell drained a 3-pointer with 6:43 left to give the Panthers their first lead of the second half at 43-41. He then hit two free throws with 6:04 left to up the marging to four at 45-41. Mitchell then hit Johnny Moran with a pass in the corner and Moran buried the triple for a 48-44 advantage with 4:48 left. Moran then closed the run with another bucket with 4:06 remaining in the game.
SIU's T.J. Lindsay knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:52 left to cut the lead to 50-47, but the Panthers would close the game on an 8-2 run to win it, 58-49.
UNI will play host to Creighton on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the McLeod Center.
NOTES: UNI made 20-of-28 shots at the foul line, while SIU made 8-of-12 free throws ... UNI's Marc Sonnen did not make a 3-pointer - snapping his streak of 17 games with at least one made 3-pointer ... UNI improved to 20-2 in Panther Sports TV Network games ... UNI is 10-3 at home this season ... the Panthers improved to 25-1 when holding the opponent to less than 50 points under head coach Ben Jacobson ... UNI tied a season-low with four made 3-pointers ... UNI committed nine turnovers in the first half and only two in the second half ... UNI's Johnny Moran started his 125th game of his career and moved into No. 7 all-time on the Panthers' games played list ... Moran will tie for No. 6 (Kerwin Dunham - 2007-11) on Saturday against Creighton ... Moran scored nine points and needs 39 more points to reach the 1,000-point plateau in his collegiate career ... UNI's top two scorers on the season did not score against Southern Illinois (Anthony James did not play because of injury and Jake Koch was 0-for-3 from the field).