Kissimmee, Fla., November. 18, 2016 – Northern Iowa junior forward Klint Carlson had an amazing transformation Friday night in the second round of the Tire Pros Invitational. Sort of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Highlight.
With 6½ minutes left in regulation of UNI’s game against Oklahoma, Carlson had made only one shot from the field and had just four points, and the Panthers trailed the Sooners 50-37. Then over the remainder of regulation and five minutes of overtime, Carlson sank four 3-pointers and scored 18 points, helping lead UNI to a stunning 73-67 comeback victory. The 22 total points was a career high for Carlson, breaking the mark of 19 he set the night before in the Panthers’ opening-round victory over Arizona State.
“I guess I was feeling it. I don’t really remember how many shots I took,” Carlson said with a grin. “At that point, I was just happy the shots were going in. I was really focused at the time on one goal, and that was to win the game. So whatever position Coach and my teammates put me in, I just had to go out there and give it my best and make the play.”
The change in Carlson’s demeanor, and in the overall play of the Panthers, began shortly after he picked up a technical foul for taunting. Carlson insists he did nothing wrong – “I want everybody to know I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him,” Carlson said – but there is no doubt that the momentum of the game changed after that call was made.
“I don’t think Clint has ever gotten a technical in his college career,” UNI senior guard Jeremy Morgan said. “It wasn’t about the technical. It was more about his intensity. When I see a guy like that who’s willing to not back down from anybody, I have his back. When he’s fired up like that, it really got me and the rest of the guys going. That’s where (the comeback) sort of started.”
Carlson made a trio of 3-pointers and a layup in less than four minutes, pulling UNI to within a single point at 52-51. Then his 3-pointer with 51 seconds left in regulation gave the Panthers their first lead since midway through the first half. Finally, after Oklahoma forced overtime, Carlson drained yet another 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in OT to break a 64-64 tie and give UNI the lead for good.
“I was just really focused on making everything that I shot,” Carlson said. “It felt good to make those shots and lift my team up to where we needed to be. Once I got that tech, there was a little bit of fire in my belly that came up. I was just a little bit upset. I guess that’s one way to get a W.”