The UNI men's basketball program has put together back-to-back blowout wins over conference opponents Evansville and Valparaiso, and they're having fun again.

After two narrow losses in Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic, a non-COVID-related illness making its way through the team, and a 4-7 record to start the season, there was some nervousness pervading through the fanbase.

The Panthers have quickly turned things around for a lot of reasons.

Two of the easiest to point out? Underclassmen Forwards Noah Carter and Tytan Anderson.

On Wednesday night, Carter contributed 20 points while going 9-14 from the field, and added four rebounds and three assists for the UNI in their 92-65 win over Valparaiso. On Sunday against Evansville, he put up 15 points on 5-10 shooting, along with four rebounds and an assist.

"(Carter) is just such a tough matchup for other teams because of his ability to score the ball," leading scorer for the Panthers, AJ Green said. "He's good enough to know how to make plays for other guys as well. ... When he's clicking like he was tonight, that's just another piece of our team that makes us very good."

"In tonight's game, that's as physical as I think he's played," said Jacobson after the contest against Valparaiso. "He's got such an ability to make baskets. ... There (are) guys that when they shoot the ball, it rolls in more often than it rolls out. ... He's put time in to make that happen."

Anderson was no slouch on the scoring end against the Beacons, either.

Prior to the game versus Valpo, the Eldridge, Iowa native had scored just 16 points through ten games this season. He put up 12 for the Panthers over 17:30, going 6-7 from the field. He hauled in a tough six rebounds as well.

"What everybody saw tonight, is exactly what we see every day," added Coach Jacobson. "He gets to so many basketballs because he plays so hard. That's who he is. ... When you've got a guy who's willing to go get every basketball and compete the way Tytan does, that's a big deal. Tonight, he was able to get some offense out of it."

Carter offered praise for his younger teammate as well, via the Panther Point of View podcast: "This man is one of the best offensive rebounders I have ever seen. The way he's able to track the ball, it's hard to explain. ... Tytan is a really key attribute to our team."

Coach Jacobson has been happy with the uptick in defensive engagement and ball movement from his team as well.

"I've been doing this a long time," he said. "You don't get many conference games that you win by 20 points, and they're doing it because they're playing their tails off on defense and passing the ball on offense. It's been a lot of fun.

Tonight, it felt like the ball really moved again. There are two parts to that. One -- having everybody (except Austin Phyfe who has had lingering issues from contracting COVID in the summer of 2021) together at practice and having everybody feeling better. Two -- being able to look at the games in Hawaii and seeing the opportunities we missed on by taking a quick shot or not moving the ball."

AJ Green echoed Coach Jacobson's sentiment.

"In the first half, we did a very good job of defending," said Green following the win over Valparaiso. "We're just making it hard on the other team -- making guys uncomfortable. Whether that's running shooters off the line, getting into them, or rotating out of it, we've done a much better job of that. ... I'm really proud of the guys and the mindset they've had -- to continue to work and build and keep getting better."

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