CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- For the second consecutive game Justin Gant paced the team with 18 points as the Sycamores downed Northern Iowa 65-61 in front of 4,035 fans at the McLeod Center.
ISU improved to 9-4, 2-0 MVC while Northern Iowa fell to 7-7, 0-2 MVC. The Sycamores improved to 33-2 under Greg Lansing when holding teams to 63 or less points and the Sycamores are 4-1 against UNI. The Sycamores are 2-0 in the MVC for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.
Gant was 8-of-12 from the field, including a 3-pointer and six rebounds. Odum finished the game with 16 points, hitting 9 charity tosses.
The Sycamores shot 44.4 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle 32-29. Indiana State owned a 12-0 advantage on second chance points and an 11-2 egde in points off turnovers.
Justin Gant reached double figures scoring for the second consecutive MVC contest as he scored his 10th point on the Sycamores' first possession of the second half as his put-back stretched the Indiana State lead out to 39-32. He scored again on a long jumper with just under 18 minutes to go to answer a Panther free throw to stretch the lead out to 41-33.
A 3-point play by Seth Tuttle cut the Sycamore lead down to five points, but Odum hit 1-of-2 free throws at the 17:30 mark to stretch the advantage out to 42-36. Gant converted another putback after an Odum steal as ISU found itself ahead 44-36. He scored again after a UNI basket on a reverse lay-up to send the lead back up to 46-38 with 13:23 left and forced the Panthers to call a timeout.
A Seth Tuttle 3-pointer was answered with a trey by Jake Odum with just over nine minutes remaining to reinstate a 51-44 lead for the Sycamores after the Panthers had whitled it down to four.
After UNI cut the Sycamore lead down to 53-50, RJ Mahurin hit 1-of-2 free throws with 5:35 left in the second half to stretch the lead back out to 54-50. Arop hit 1-of-2 himself on the next trip down as ISU's lead grew back to five with under five minutes to go.
Both teams traded free throws over the next three minutes and Odum was fouled driving to the rim at the 2:23 mark to send him to free throw line after the final media timeout of the contest. Odum hit both ensuing free throws to stretch the lead back out to 57-52, but Tuttle answered with an inside lay-up as the ISU lead was again cut to three with just over two minutes left.
The UNI leading scorer, Tuttle, fouled out of the game against an airborne Odum at the 1:32 mark of the second half after scoring 24 points. After the substitution, Odum hit both free throws to reestablish a 59-54 advantage. The Sycamores drained the shot clock as the the game entered its final minute but Arop drained a bankshot to stretch the cushion out to 61-54. Koch countered with a 3-pointer to trim the ISU lead down to 61-57.
Following a UNI timeout, Odum was fouled in the backcourt and hit 1-of-2 free throws to lead 62-57. The Panthers scored quickly to cut the lead down to 62-59 at the 28.3 second mark. Odum was fouled again, this time with 22.5 seconds left and hit 1-of-2 free throws again to up the lead to 63-59. James hit a lay-up at the 15.3 mark to cut the lead down to 63-61. Odum hit 1-of-2 free throws again to reach 16 points for the game and stake the Sycamores a 64-61 advantage.
UNI called its final timeout with 6.5 seconds left to set up a final play. The Panthers stepped out of bounds on the first pass and Eitel hit a free throw to seal the 65-61 win.
Northern Iowa scored the first five points of the game before RJ Mahurin converted a conventional 3-point play with 18:48 left in the first half. UNI ran its lead out to 9-3, as Justin Gant led the Sycamores on a short 5-2 run to inch them within 11-8 at the 15:47 mark.
The Sycamores run would eventually reach 11-0 as the Panthers failed to score for over five minutes of game time and missed six field goals in a row. Meanwhile, the Sycamores took a 12-11 lead on a conventional 3-point play by Jake Odum and went up 17-11 on a trey by Lucas Eitel with 12:11 left in the opening stanza.
Manny Arop scored on back-to-back trips for Indiana State as the clock ticked down towards nine minutes to go which stretch the Sycamore lead out to 21-16 after the Panthers had drawn closer. He then scored again with just over seven minutes left to make it 23-18 after a pair of free throws had gotten the Panthers back within three.
UNI would go on to tie the game at 23 after Anthony James hit a coast-to-coast basket and Seth Tuttle drained a Panther 3-pointer with 5:40 on the clock to stretch the run out to 8-0 and give the Panthers a 26-23 advantage.
Odum ended the run after he got tangled on a loose ball opportunity with a Panther to cut the UNI cushion down to just 26-25. Deon Mitchell answered for UNI with a conventional 3-point play to push the Panthers ahead 29-25 with 4:40 on the clock. Indiana State continued to grind on the other end of the floor as Gant got a second chance bucket with 4:22 on the clock and hit the free throw to get the margin down to just 29-28.
The Sycamores would retake the lead at the 3:30 mark on a driving lay-up for Dawon Cummings. With 2:42 left Jake Kitchell made it a 7-0 run for the Sycamores as he hit a pair of free throws following a Cummings missed 3-pointer to give ISU the 32-29 lead. Marc Sonnen then tied the game at 32 with a trey at the 1:45 mark.
Kitchell converted another 3-point play for Indiana State with 57.9 seconds left in the first half as ISU regained a 35-32 advantage. Seth Tuttle was then whistled for a foul and Khrsitian Smith hit both free throws with 49.4 seconds left for a 37-32 cushion.
Justin Gant had eight points to lead ISU at the half while Jake Kitchell added seven. Nine different Sycamores scored before halftime.
Indiana State returns to action on Saturday, January 5 when they travel to No. 11/16 Creighton for the second leg of this two-game Valley roadswing. Tip-off is set for 3:05 p.m. (ET) and can seen live locally on WAWV-TV as well as nationally on ESPN3.com.