IUPU-Fort Wayne (6-7) vs. IUPUI (5-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 27, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,165) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: IPFW 4-0, IUPUI 3-2. Away Record: IPFW 1-6, IUPUI 1-6. Neutral Record: IPFW 1-1, IUPUI 1-2. Conference Record: IPFW 0-0, IUPUI 0-2. Series Record: IUPUI leads, 24-11.
GAME NOTES: Intrastate rivals are set to collide at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday night, as the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons take on the IUPUI Jaguars in a Summit League showdown.
IPFW won its latest game at home versus Kennesaw State, 70-47, which snapped a season-long, three-game losing streak, and it is attempting to win back-to- back games for the first time since mid-November. This bout marks the Mastodons' Summit League opener.
The season has gotten off to a rocky start for IUPUI, as it has lost 10 of its first 15 matchups, and it has yet to win two straight games. The Jaguars had been losers of six of their previous seven, before heading out on the road on Sunday and putting together an impressive 77-68 win over Ball State.
These teams split a pair of meetings a year ago, with each winning on its home floor, leaving the Jaguars with a 24-11 advantage in the all-time series.
IPFW put forth one of its most dominating efforts of the season in the 23- point win over Kennesaw State. Not only did the squad convert 50 percent of its field goal attempts (24-of-48), but it also held KSU to nearly as many turnovers (17) as it had field goals (18). Frank Gaines had a modest shooting night (5-of-12), but he knocked down 10 of his 13 free throw attempts and finished with a game-high 22 points. Mario Hines saw plenty of action off the bench and cashed in with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Luis Jacobo added 14 points, eight boards and five steals, and Michael Kibiloski chipped in 10 points. On the season, the Mastodons have not fared well shooting the ball, making just over 40 percent of their field goal attempts for a mere 65.4 ppg, but they've put together a great effort at the defensive end by yielding just 61.2 ppg. Gaines is the conference's third-leading scorer at 19.1 ppg, but he shoots just 40.6 percent from the floor. Hines (9.6 ppg) and Jacobo (9.0 ppg) have been adequate second options.
The Jaguars were able to record their first win in seven tries earlier this week by making 51.9 percent of their field goal attempts against Ball State, which included a lofty 11-of-22 effort from 3-point range. Making six of those long-range buckets was Sean Esposito, who tallied a career-high 20 points. John Hart was a factor across the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Lyonell Gaines (13 points), Jordan Shanklin (11 points) and Greg Rice (9 points, 7 assists) also had solid outings. It was one of the better performances for IUPUI this season, which shoots 43.5 percent from the floor in netting 68.3 ppg, while allowing an unsightly 75.5 ppg to the opposition. Hart averages a team-high 14.7 ppg, although he has also committed the most turnovers on the squad (47). Mitchell Patton (14.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is a stable frontcourt presence, but he has missed four of the last five games with an injury. Donovan Gibbs (10.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg) converts nearly 50 percent of his field goal attempts.
IUPUI showed with its latest road victory that it isn't as big a pushover as its record may suggest, but it still has performed way too inconsistently to rely on. IPFW has the game's most reliable scorer in Gaines and a much better defensive approach, giving it the advantage to move to 1-0 in the Summit League.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 72, IUPUI 65
12/27 10:34:20 ET