CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — 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 the Missouri Valley.
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.
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.
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 dud, because the Panthers had the Shockers flummoxed from the opening tip.
Northern Iowa shot 60 percent in a sterling first half, and the Shockers were so out of sorts that they began applying full-court pressure in a rare sign of panic. But Tuttle opened the second half with a 3-point play and the rout was on.
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.
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 — equaling the total for Texas, California and Florida combined for the weekend. No. 5 Wisconsin beat Iowa 74-63 in Iowa City and No. 15 Iowa State thumped TCU 83-66 in Ames.
Wichita State plays at Bradley on Feb. 4
Northern Iowa plays at Indiana State on Feb. 3.
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