The non-league portion of the schedule is over for the UNI men's basketball team. The 23rd-ranked Panthers tuned up for Missouri Valley Conference play with a 74-63 victory over South Dakota State in Cedar Falls on Sunday (December 28, 2014).

UNI took control with a 13-0 run late in the first half and owned a 39-30 lead at intermission.

The Panthers opened the second half on an 8-2 run to extend their lead to 15 points. They led by as many as 16 on three occasions in the second half. The Jackrabbits cut the margin to five points with 6:11 remaining, but could get no closer.

With the win, UNI moves to 11-1 overall and improves to 6-0 at the McLeod Center this season. Sunday's home game was the first for the Panthers as a ranked team since 2010, a season highlighted by their upset victory over top-seeded Kansas in the NCAA tournament.

Depth has been a strength for UNI this season. Against South Dakota State (9-5), the Panthers showed again why they are a tough team to beat. Ten players scored for UNI, including eight in the first half alone.

Nate Buss led four Panthers in double figures, scoring 14 points off the bench. Wes Washpun added 12 in a reserve role, while substitute Paul Jesperson chipped in 10. Seth Tuttle was the only UNI starter to tally double figures, finishing with 11 points.

The Panthers' reserves outscored their starters 45-29. Sunday marked the third time in the last four games that UNI's bench has either matched or surpassed the point total of the starting five.

South Dakota State's top scorer was George Marshall, who tallied a game-high 16 points in the loss.

Up next, UNI opens Missouri Valley Conference action with a game at Evansville Wednesday night.