IUPU-Ft. Wayne (2-2) vs. Eastern Illinois (1-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 18, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (8,824) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: IPFW 0-0, Eastern Illinois 0-1. Away Record: IPFW 0-1, Eastern Illinois 0-2. Neutral Record: IPFW 2-0, Eastern Illinois 1-0. Conference Record: IPFW 0-0, Eastern Illinois 0-0. Series Record: IPFW leads 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Eastern Illinois looks to earn its first win streak under Jay Spoonhour on Sunday when the Panthers take on the IUPU-Ft. Wayne Mastodons as part of the Eastern Michigan 'Ice Man' Classic at the Convocation Center.
The Mastodons had a winning streak snapped in their most recent game, a 60-47 loss to host Eastern Michigan. IPFW had won back-to-back games before that setback and is now an even 2-2 overall this season. The Mastodons will be back home for a game against NAIA foe Judson before a two-game road trip that begins next Saturday.
Spoonhour is in his first season at the helm for the Panthers who took care of Texas-Pan American on Saturday (63-50) to earn their first win of the season. Before that the Panthers had lost three straight games against Bradley (76-53), Wright State (56-44) and Eastern Michigan (60-52). Eastern Illinois will be at home in five of its next six games beginning against Rochester College on Wednesday.
In only two previous meetings, IPFW has come out on top in both instances.
Led by a career-high 28 points from Josh Piper, the Panthers were able to pull away in the second half to earn win number one on the season. Eastern Illinois shot an even 50.0 percent in the contest and with Piper scoring so well beat up on Texas-Pan American on the inside with a 34-18 edge in points in the paint.
Piper is the only player for the Panthers scoring in double figures (13.3 ppg. 4.8 rpg). With so few scoring options, Eastern Illinois has not been a very productive offensive team averaging only 53 points per game. Eastern Illinois has also struggled on the glass bringing in only 28.5 rebounds per game. In fact it is junior guard Morris Woods (7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) that leads the team in rebounding. Woods has also been guilty of a team-high 16 turnovers though. Point guard Austin Akers doesn't score much (4.5 ppg) but has handed out 16 assists in the first four games which is by far the highest total on the squad. Akers has also only committed six turnovers while spending more time on the court (36.5 minutes per game) than any other player. Alex Austin (8.5 ppg) is the second-leading scorer and has also been the squad's best shooter from beyond the 3-point line with six triples this season.
IPFW fell apart down the stretch against Eastern Michigan on Saturday. After a tightly contested first half in which it connected on 41.7 percent of its shots the Mastodons crashed down to a 5-of-26 effort from the floor in the final 20 minutes. IPFW had twice as many turnovers (18-9) in the game as the Eagles but did have the superior night on the glass (44-33). Frank Gaines finished off the game with 17 points and seven rebounds but knocked down only 1-of-7 shots from beyond the arc.
Gaines has been sensational through the first four games. He is the only player on the roster averaging in double figures with his hefty 25.8 points per game scoring average. The senior guard could stand to improve his efforts from beyond the arc though where he has hot on just 6-of-26 attempts. Mario Hines (9.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) has been a sturdy frontcourt player this season and is a threat to score in double figures. Luis Jacobo (9.3 ppg) has shown similar ability to score with success although like Gaines his 3-point shooting needs work (6-of-19). In fact the team as a whole has been weak from long distance this season (19-of-82). Led by Hines, the Mastodons have been a strong team on the glass with a +10.2 rebounding margin thus far. The Mastodons bring in 46.2 rebounds per game.
With Gaines playing at such a high level out of the gate, IPFW can compete with most teams and Eastern Illinois certainly falls into that category.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Ft. Wayne 66, Eastern Illinois 58
11/18 10:46:46 ET