LAS VEGAS - Ben Jacobson did not realize NBA scouts were sitting on press row Thursday afternoon until the game was over.

"I didn't know they'd be around for our game," he said. "I figured they'd be here to see Cincinnati and LSU play.

"That's good stuff."

Playing in front of scouts from Golden State, Indiana, Chicago and Toronto, Jacobson provided them a glimpse of his complete game in Northern Iowa's 81-47 rout of Division II Hawaii-Pacific at Valley High School in the third round of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.

Jacobson tallied a game-high 19 points, made six of 10 shots, grabbed three rebounds, dished out three assists and had three steals.

More importantly than the senior's versatile stat line was the energy he brought to the court for UNI in the first half.

"We were fortunate Ben showed up that first half because some of our other guys, particularly our inside guys, weren't as sharp as they have been," UNI head coach Greg McDermott said.

Meanwhile, junior center Grant Stout recorded six blocks to surpass Sean Hawkins as the Panthers' career blocked shots leader.

UNI (9-1) stormed out to a 15-0 lead in the opening 4 1/2 minutes, but became complacent and saw the advantage whittled to seven at halftime.

Hawaii-Pacific (1-8) collected eight offensive rebounds and had a 21-16 advantage on the glass at halftime. Eric Coleman, the team's leading scorer coming in, was scoreless.

McDermott challenged his squad in the locker room.

"Sometimes when you get a lead, you take a deep breath and relax, and we should be beyond that," McDermott said. "To Hawaii-Pacific's credit, they kept on playing.

"We were letting them catch it where they shouldn't catch it and we were slow to react on backcuts - things we are usually pretty good at."

The Sea Warriors pulled to within five in the opening minute of the second half, but the Panthers responded with a 32-6 run over the ensuing nine minutes to take a commanding 31-point lead.

"When good teams jump out to leads like that, they go after the kill and put it away with the other team not coming back," said UNI's John Little, who matched a season high with nine points off the bench. "We didn't do that tonight in the first half.

"We got a little lackadaisical, but we got after it in the second half."

Stout finished with 11 points, six rebounds in addition to his six blocks. As a team, UNI snuffed 11 Hawaii-Pacific shots - the most in a game under McDermott's tenure.

"We really came out in the second half and stepped up our defensive intensity," said Jacobson. "I was real proud of that."

Hawaii-Pacific made just five of 27 shots (18.5 percent) in the second half. UNI, meanwhile, connected on 13 of 20 (65 percent). The Panthers, who had 11 players score, also drained 25 of 33 free throws.

"The experience that team has is phenomenal," Hawaii-Pacific coach Kelly Wells said of UNI. "They've got a talented group and their coach does a really good job with them.

"It was important for us to play them so our players can see that type of competition and see where we'd like to take our program in the future."

Jacobson scored 14 points in the first half, and created havoc on the defensive end for the Sea Warrior backcourt.

"I was real aggressive," he said. "I don't know what the reason was, maybe it's from staying in the heart of Las Vegas."

With Brooks McKowen and Jared Josten in foul trouble, McDermott used Jacobson at point guard more than he has in the first nine games.

"It brought me back to my high school days a little bit," the Sioux City East grad said.

Jacobson knifed his way through Hawaii-Pacific's zone defense. He didn't commit a single turnover in 24 minutes.

"He did a really nice job," McDermott said. "He made some great decisions and set some people up for some easy baskets."

The Panthers close out the week-long roadtrip and non-conference action tonight against Dayton, which is expected to finish in the upper-third of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

"It's going to be a hell of a game," Jacobson said. "We've already got two quality wins in Iowa and LSU, and I think beating Dayton on a neutral court will look just as good as any of those games come March.

"This is huge, and another opportunity to prove ourselves against a good basketball team."

PLACE YOUR BET: The Caesar Palace Casino Wednesday night listed UNI as a 50-to-1 odd to win the national championship. Those odds were better than Kansas, which is down as 75-to-1.

Connecticut and Duke were the favorites at 5-to-1 and 9-to-5. Iowa was 40-to-1, while Iowa State was not mentioned on the board of 30 teams.

SWAT KING: Stout surpassed Sean Hawkins as the school's all-time leader in blocked shots. Stout, who matched a career high with six, has 121 for his career n three more than Hawkins. He is closing in on the top 10 of the Missouri Valley Conference's all-time list.

ROBBIE AGAIN? With his three assists against Hawaii-Pacific, Jacobson tied Robbie Sieverding for seventh on the school's all-time list with 265. Jacobson recently passed Sieverding in two other categories n points and 3-point field goals made.

IN THE SCOREBOOK: Austin Howard, who joined the Panther basketball team three weeks ago, scored four points and blocked three shots in six minutes Thursday. It was the first four points of Howard's college career.

Howard, a Davenport Central graduate, red-shirted this past season on the UNI football team.

Contact Matt Coss at (319) 291-1468 or matt.coss@wcfcourier.com

Hawaii-Pac. Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Ison 28 2-6 3-7 5 1 1 7

Dobbins 27 2-9 3-4 3 1 4 7

Peciukas 17 0-9 3-4 7 0 0 3

Harwell 18 2-4 1-2 2 0 4 5

Reinking 10 0-3 0-0 0 2 4 0

Schneider 21 1-3 0-0 2 0 1 2

Moore 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Snyder 8 4-6 0-0 1 0 5 9

Walker 12 0-1 0-0 1 1 0 0

Popic 3 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0

Lee 16 2-4 1-2 3 0 1 5

Smith 11 1-2 0-0 1 0 0 3

Davis 10 0-3 0-0 2 0 4 0

Wilson 16 3-7 0-0 3 0 0 6

Team 5

Totals 200 17-58 11-19 36 5 24 47

N. Iowa Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Coleman 19 0-2 2-5 7 2 3 2

Stout 22 3-3 5-7 6 1 2 11

Crawford 23 5-6 0-1 4 2 2 11

Jacobson 24 6-10 6-7 3 3 2 19

McKowen 14 0-1 0-0 0 1 4 0

Little 22 3-3 0-0 4 0 3 9

Viet 10 0-1 6-7 0 0 1 6

Josten 15 1-3 2-2 0 1 3 4

Brown 12 2-5 2-2 2 0 0 7

Griffin 6 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Howard 6 1-2 2-2 3 0 0 4

Santos 11 2-3 0-0 3 0 2 4

Williams 16 2-5 0-0 1 1 1 4

Team 2

Totals 200 25-44 25-33 35 11 23 81

Hawaii-Pacific 29 18 n 47

Northern Iowa 36 45 n 81

3-point goals n H-P 2-15 (Snyder 1-2, Smith 1-2, Dobbins 0-4, Peciukas 0-3, Lee 0-1, Harwell 0-1, Schneider 0-1, Walker 0-1); UNI 6-12 (Little 3-3, Brown 1-3, Jacobson 1-2, Crawford 1-1, McKowen 0-1, Williams 0-1, Viet 0-1). Turnovers n H-P 12 (Dobbins 3, Peciukas 3); UNI 10 (Coleman 2, Little 2). Technical fouls n Snyder.

Officials n Martin Cota, Sam Gibson, Ken Nielson. Att. n 257.

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