Western Illinois (16-5) at IUPUI (6-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Jungle (1,215) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: HTSN/FCS. Home Record: WIU 9-1. IUPUI 4-5. Away Record: WIU 5-4, IUPUI 1-11. Neutral Record: WIU 2-0, IUPUI 1-2. Conference Record: WIU 8-2, IUPUI 1-9. Series Record: IUPUI leads, 27-10.
GAMES NOTES: The conference leading Western Illinois Leathernecks will look to maintain their seat at the top of the Summit League when they travel to the Jungle to take on the IUPUI Jaguars on Saturday afternoon.
This game wraps up a three-game road trip for Western Illinois which did not fare so well in the second contest. The Leathernecks were topped, 67-60, by Oakland in the game ending a short two-game win streak. The Leathernecks are still an impressive 16-5 this season and at 8-2 in league play are still in the driver's seat in the Summit League standings. Western Illinois will host Nebraska-Omaha next Thursday before two crucial road tests against North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
A pair of free throws with three seconds remaining in overtime dashed IUPUI's hopes in an 80-79 loss to intrastate rival IUPU-Ft. Wayne last time out. The setback was the eighth straight for the Jaguars who have yet to earn a win since December. The losing streak has the Jaguars at just 6-18 overall and a ghastly 1-9 in league play. That is the worst mark in the conference and has the Jaguars two and a half games behind the next closest team. IUPUI also faces Nebraska-Omaha next.
In the first meeting between these teams this season Western Illinois escaped with a 57-53 win in overtime. The win was the second straight for the Leathernecks against the Jaguars. However, historically IUPUI has had the upper hand with a 27-10 record against Western Illinois.
In its matchup with Oakland, Western Illinois tied the game at 52-52 with 5:34 remaining but from there the wheels fell off. The Leathernecks had just two field goals the rest of the way while allowing the Golden Grizzlies to close the game on a 15-8 run.
Low-scoring affairs have been the norm for Western Illinois which hasn't impressed on the offensive end but has done so on the defensive side. The Leathernecks are letting up the fourth fewest points per game (52.2) in the country, while holding teams to just 9.3 assists per contest and 38.5 percent shooting. Playing so well defensively has largely allowed the Leathernecks to sweep their poor offensive efforts (60.6 ppg) under the rug. Terell Parks (12.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.9 rpg) has anchored Western Illinois on both ends. The 6-foot-8 center is the leading scorer on the roster, while topping the Summit League in rebounds and blocks. Ceola Clark (11.3 ppg, 4.2 apg) is the only other player in double figures, while handing out the third most assists in the conference.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 16 lead changes, IUPUI eventually fell to IPFW. The Jaguars were the superior team on the inside, as they outscored the Mastodons 40-26 in the paint. However a 12-2 deficit in second-chance points and a 36-15 discrepancy from beyond the arc was too much to overcome.
Being outscored has obviously been an issue for IUPUI. However the Jaguars generally haven't been just barely on the short end, but rather drastically far behind. The Jaguars are allowing a generous 76.9 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting this season. Each of those marks is among the 10 worst in the country for a team that has lost 12 games by at least 14 points this season. On the offensive end the Jaguars are scoring 67.7 points per game but losses of John Hart (14.2 ppg) and Ian Chiles (10.2 ppg) have forced them to find offense elsewhere. Mitchell Patton (13.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) has carried the bulk of that responsibility, while Donovan Gibbs (10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has also picked up his production.
IUPUI put up a surprising effort last time these teams met by playing solid defense. Hart was still available in that contest though and with a depleted roster, the Jaguars could be in for a long afternoon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 66, IUPUI 58
02/02 10:45:54 ET