It didn’t take long to for the top-ranked team in the nation to fall. On Saturday, No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels fell to the Missouri Valley Conference’s Northern Iowa Panthers, 71-67.
UNI was led by 21 points and eight assists from guard Wes Washpun, who shot 9 of 15 from the field and also chipped in two steals. The Panthers shot 42 percent from the floor and made 39.9 percent of their threes, their fast-paced style just too much for the squad of coaching veteran Roy Williams.
On UNC’s end, it’s easy to see what caused them to blow a 41-32 halftime lead. The Tar Heels committed 12 turnovers to UNI’s six and shot just 5 of 18 from long range.
Against a tough UNI team that likes to run, one must be able to make threes consistently while also defending against them. This is where the presence of senior point guard Marcus Paige really could have been used, as he is still recovering from a broken hand.
Following the game, the Panthers fans stormed the court in epic fashion… with an appearance from Donald Trump.
The one good thing on UNC’s end was the breakout performance of Justin Jackson. He entered the game averaging 6.7 points per game and shooting just 37.5 percent from the field, and finished today with a team-best 25 points.
The good news is that this loss happened early in the season and UNC should have no trouble shaking it off as it continues to do fine work over the rest of the regular season in pursuit of its third title under Williams.
Just the same, it is now clear that UNI was not just a one-hit wonder last season, and the Panthers need to be taken seriously.
UNC will look to right the ship when it hosts Northwestern on Monday night, while UNI takes on Division III Dubuque on Wednesday.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports