Tuttle lifts No. 18 Northern Iowa to upset of No. 12 Wichita State
Wichita State’s long Missouri Valley Conference winning streak is history.
So is the Shockers’ stranglehold on first place in the league.
Seth Tuttle scored a career-high 29 points and 18th-ranked Northern Iowa trounced No. 12 Wichita State 70-54 on Saturday, snapping the Shockers’ 27-game regular-season winning streak in conference play.
Reserve Wes Washpun had 16 points for the Panthers (20-2, 9-1 MVC). They pulled into a tie with the Shockers for first in the league after a surprisingly dominant performance.
Northern Iowa seized control with a 21-3 run late in the first half and pushed its lead to as much as 49-30 early in the second half.
"Our energy level and our effort level was as high as it’s been with this group," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said.
Fred VanVleet had 18 points to lead Wichita State (19-3, 9-1), which shot just 5 of 24 from 3-point range. Star Ron Baker was held to 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
"The best team won," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "Tuttle was unstoppable."
This was the first Valley game between ranked opponents in 33 years — and a sign that the league is on solid ground despite losing Creighton before last season.
It wound up being a romp, because the Panthers had the Shockers flummoxed from the opening tip.
Northern Iowa shot 60 percent, and the Shockers were so out of sorts that they began applying full-court pressure in a rare sign of desperation. But Tuttle opened the second half with a 3-point play and the rout was on.
"We didn’t expect to come in here and beat them the way we did, I guess," Tuttle said. "They are a great team. But we really didn’t talk about beating them by one or two. We talked about coming in here and beating them by 15. That was our mindset.
Tuttle also had seven rebounds for Northern Iowa, which will travel to Wichita in the regular-season finale on Feb. 28.
By winning the first one, the Panthers have a much better chance at ensuring that the rematch will have title implications.
"It definitely gives us confidence," Washpun said. "But we know how tough the Valley is."
Wichita State: The last Valley game between ranked teams also involved the Shockers, who lost to 18th-ranked Tulsa 99-88 in 1982. Wichita State and former league member Creighton were ranked on multiple occasions in recent years, but neither was in the Top 25 the week they faced each other. The Shockers had actually beaten 30 straight Valley opponents entering play, as they also won three games and the league tournament title in St. Louis last March.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers played in one of three games involving Top 25 teams in the state of Iowa on Saturday. No. 5 Wisconsin beat Iowa 74-63 in Iowa City and No. 15 Iowa State thumped TCU 83-66 in Ames.
Nate Buss and Matt Bohannon hit back-to-back 3s to give Northern Iowa a 24-18 lead. The Panthers held Wichita State to just three points in the next 6:43, allowing them to grab a double-digit lead they never gave up.
At one point in the second half, Washpun fumbled the ball with his back to the basket. But the distraction allowed Marvin Singleton to get free under the basket, and Washpun found him for an easy layup and a 49-30 lead.
Wichita State plays at Bradley on Feb. 4
Northern Iowa plays at Indiana State on Feb. 3.