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Halftime: Northern Iowa 29, Michigan State 22

ST. LOUIS -- Quick thoughts from halftime:

  • The pace is perfect for Northern Iowa. The Panthers have only been hurt in transition a couple of times by the Spartans' vaunted running game and are doing a great job rushing back to play defense. Of course, part of that means abandoning the offensive glass, but it's a trade-off UNI coach Benn Jacobson will gladly make.

  • The Koch brothers, senior Adam and freshman Jake, both hit big 3-point shots in the first half to help stake the Panthers to their lead. Adam Koch, Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, had not shot well throughout the entire postseason. Tonight he is 4-of-4. If he keeps hitting shots, UNI will be very tough to beat.

  • UNI also savvily exploited 7-footer Jordan Eglseder in the low post, isolating him 1-on-1 against 6-10 Garrick Sherman. Eglseder used his 45-pound weight advantage to score over the freshman.

  • Durrell Summers kept Michigan State in the game in the first half, scoring 11 points. Yes, the Spartans miss injured Kalin Lucas, their primary creator off the dribble.

  • Northern Iowa's team defense is a thing of beauty. They switch and recover without leaving themselves susceptible to mismatches. And they help on penetration as well as anyone in the country. Michigan State's 7-of-22 shooting in the first half was not just the result of some shots that spun out -- though there were a few of those.