Ben Jacobson (file photo)

Ben Jacobson (file photo)

The UNI Panthers return to Missouri Valley Conference action tonight at home against Southern Illinois. The Panthers opened the league race by splitting two games last week and are 12-2 overall. The Salukis are 7-8 overall and 0-2 in the Valley.

UNI coach Ben Jacobson says the Salukis have struggled recently after being on a run to start the year, but he says they have a good team and every night is a tough ballgame. With conference play underway the Panthers will have a more “normal” schedule as they played 7 games in 16 days to start the season. “Coming out of the break it has been different for about a month, it will be good to get into that routine and it will be the same now until the first part of March,” Jacobson says.

Jacobson says he was pleased with the effort in the first week of conference play. “The one thing that continues to hang out there is our rebounding, but I’ve been talking about that since October. That’s just going to have to change….but aside from that, I thought we played pretty well in both the games,” Jacobson says.

The Drake Bulldogs will be in search of their first Missouri Valley Conference victory on Wednesday night with a visit to Illinois. The Bulldogs are 3-13 overall and take on an Illinois State that that Bulldogs coach Ray Giacoletti says is very talented despite an 0-2 start to league play. “Illinois State might be from 1-12 the most 12 talented athletic players in the league, even more so than Wichita,” Giacolettis says.

Illinois State is 8-6 overall.

Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Oelwein contributed to this story.