OKLAHOMA CITY -- Quick halftime thoughts from Northern Iowa 36, Kansas 28.
Hang on to your hats. The entire tournament is 20 minutes away from being broken wide open. Overall No. 1 seed and solid pre-tournament favorite Kansas is fighting for its life against poised, tough, shot-making Nothern Iowa.
This is a clinic in Panthers basketball. Ben Jacobson's team looks exactly the same as it did in dominating the Missouri Valley Conference -- controlling tempo, almost error-free on defense and hitting open shots when they present themselves (6-for-12 from three-point range). Simply put, Northern Iowa is taking the fight to Kansas, dictating the terms, and appears very unsurprised to be ahead by eight points at intermission.
Ali Farokhmanesh, the undersized shooting guard who got the Panthers into the second round with a 25-foot 3-pointer to beat UNLV, is still hot. He's 4-of-4 from the field, 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and has a game-high 11 points. Hulking Northern Iowa center Jordan Eglseder added 10 points, hitting his second and third 3s of the season. When those were going in, you knew Kansas was in trouble.
Sherron Collins is Kansas' best player, but he had one of his worst halves of his career. Collins scored just two points, had two assists and committed two turnovers. He lost his cool to the point that he stayed on the floor at halftime to complain to one of the officials. Might have deserved a technical foul there, but did not get whistled for one. Coaches can get away with that sort of thing, but not often players.
Northern Iowas is dead even on the glass -- 16 rebounds for each team, six offensive apiece.
A sign of excellent depth: Northern Iowa leads by eight, and the MVC Player of the Year, Adam Koch, hasn't scored a point. It hasn't mattered.
The only foul trouble to speak of is Marcus Morris with two.