Cedar Falls, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - Seth Tuttle scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half and No. 13 Northern Iowa crushed Illinois State 83-64 on Wednesday.
Averaging 65 points per game, the Panthers (23-2, 12-1 MVC) scored 50 in their best first half of the season.
Deon Mitchell scored 12 points for Northern Iowa.
The Redbirds (15-10, 7-6) held a brief lead very early in the game but had no answers on the defensive end of the floor. Daishon Knight paced Illinois State with 16 points, and Paris Lee and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell each scored 10.
After only squeaking past Illinois State by one point in a January meeting, Northern Iowa came out of the gate strong.
The Panthers missed their first three shots but made off nine of their next 10 to go up 24-15. At that point, the Redbirds were shooting 6-of-11, but they finished the half making just seven of their next 22.
Tuttle put the Panthers up 50-33 at halftime on a jumper with 26 seconds to play. It capped a 6-of-6 stretch from the field for Northern Iowa.
Lee's 3-pointer nearly four minutes into the second half cut Northern Iowa's deficit to 13, but the Panthers scored the next 10, starting with a 3 from Tuttle, to keep the game out of reach.
That long-distance shot was part of another stretch of six shots without a miss for Northern Iowa.
At the 5:06 mark of the second half, Wes Washpun hit a pair of free throws to give the Panthers a game-high lead of 25 points, but they didn't score again. Northern Iowa missed its last seven shots and Akoon-Purcell's 3 in the closing seconds accounted for the final margin.
Northern Iowa has won 16 in a row at home and 12 straight overall ... Illinois State still leads the all-time series 38-31 ... With three steals, Lee set the Redbirds' single-season record with 62 ... The teams combined for just 16 turnovers ... Northern Iowa heads to Missouri State on Sunday while Illinois State hosts Wichita State on Saturday.