The Sycamores end the regular season with a 21-9 overall record and a 12-6 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play. Indiana State will be the No. 2 seed -- its highest since 2000 -- at next week's Arch Madness event in St. Louis. UNI improved to 16-14, 10-8 MVC and earned the No. 3 seed at the MVC Tournament.
The 12 MVC victories tied the 2010-11 squad which won the conference tournament for most league wins in a season under head coach Greg Lansing. That number is tied for the fourth-most during Indiana State's 38-year membership in the Valley. The Sycamores have won 18 or more games for the fourth consecutive season for the first time in the history of the program.
On Senior Day, Jake Odum led his senior class onto the court and nearly into the win column with a gutsy performance. Odum finished the contest with 16 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and was a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line with five assists and his 200th career steal. Down two points and with 4.5 seconds on the clock, Odum raced the length of the floor and pulled up for a clean 3-point look as the buzzer sounded and the ball was as much as 1/3 of the way down before popping out. Seniors Manny Arop and Dawon Cummings tallied 10 points each while Khristian Smith came off the bench to finish with 15.
The Sycamores won the battle of the boards by a 37-34 margin, including a double-double from Arop who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Justin Gant finished with nine points in the contest.
Points in the paint were identical at 28, while the Sycamore committed 10 turnovers which netted UNI 11 points while the Panthers only had five turnovers which resulted in seven points.
Odum's 16 points give him 1,511 for his career and is now just the seventh player in the history of the program to score at least 1,500 points as a Sycamore.
Seth Tuttle scored first in the game as he hit a lay-up 38 seconds in to give UNI a quick 2-0 advantage. Cummings answered with a triple for the 3-2 lead and his steal and fastbreak lay-up stretched the cushion to 5-2. UNI scored seven in a row around the 12 minute mark to take a 19-12 lead on a Tuttle lay-up before Arop answered with a jumper to make it 19-14 with 10:37 on the clock.
Consecutive Matt Bohannon trifectas made it 27-17 before the Sycamores scored in a six in a row on field goals by Arop, Devonte Brown and Smith to draw within 27-23. UNI raced back out to a 32-23 advantage before Odum hit a trey and Smith had a dunk to make it 32-28. The Sycamores regained the lead on a 3-pointer from Smith with 1:48 left in the half at 36-35 and Gant added a free throw as well as a dunk at the 23 second mark to go into the half with 39-35 lead.
The run would go to a 15-0 spurt around halftime on buckets from Odum, Brown and trey by Arop as the Sycamores led 46-35 with 18:28 to go. It was the largest lead of the contest for Indiana State.
UNI answered with 13 in a row and took a 48-46 lead on a lay-up by Deon Mitchell with 14:35 remaining, but Smith answered with a 3-pointer and the Sycamores inched ahead 49-48. UNI then took the lead and with 13:10 on the clock, Cummings gave the Sycamores a 51-50 edge on a jumper.
A pair of Odum charity tosses with 6:54 left make it 62-58, but UNI scored eight in a row to regain the 64-62 edge one minute later. The game was tied for the eighth time at 67-67 on a free throw by Tuttle and then he gave the Panthers a 70-67 lead at the 3:42 mark. That would be the final field goal for UNI the rest of the way.
Odum hit a jumper off the feed from Gant with 50 seconds remaining to draw within 70-69. The two teams traded defensive stops before Tuttle hit 1-of-2 free throws with 4.5 seconds left to stretch the lead out to 71-69. Arop grabbed the rebound of Tuttle's miss and gave an outlet to Odum and he nearly sent out the Hulman Center portion of his career in style, but the ball rimmed out at the buzzer as the Panthers held on for victory.
Tuttle finished the game with 23 points to lead the Panthers while Nate Buss recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The focus now turns to St. Louis where Indiana State travels to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament next week. Sycamore play begins on Friday, March 7 when they will take the winner of the Bradley/Loyola contest at 7:05 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised live on MVC TV as well as ESPN3.
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