IUPU-Fort Wayne (6-8) at Western Illinois (9-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: IPFW 4-0, WIU 4-0. Away Record: IPFW 1-7, WIU 3-3. Neutral Record: IPFW 1-1, WIU 2-0. Conference Record: IPFW 0-1, WIU 3-0. Series Record: IUPU-Fort Wayne leads, 9-4.
GAME NOTES: The Western Illinois Leathernecks try to stay perfect both at home and in Summit League action as they host the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons for a conference bout at Western Hall.
IPFW suffered an 88-74 setback to IUPUI on Thursday in its conference opener, which dropped its record to 6-8 on the season. The Mastodons have lost five away games in a row and four of their last five overall. Coach Tony Jasick's team is still outscoring its opposition by an average of 2.9 points per game even though it is currently sitting two games under .500.
Jim Molinari's Leathernecks defeated Oakland, 73-63, to pick up their sixth victory in a row and improve to 9-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play on Thursday. Western Illinois has yet to lose in four games at home this season despite hosting a difficult Illinois-Chicago squad on Dec. 18. The Leathernecks' success stems from their tenacity on the defensive end, where they are limiting opponents to just 52.3 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting from the field. WIU is netting 60.4 ppg with a .457 field goal percentage.
The Leathernecks swept their season series against IPFW in 2011-12, but the Mastodons still hold a 10-4 all-time lead in the rivalry.
Frank Gaines produced a game-high 28 points while Mario Hines, Michael Kibiloski, and Joe Edwards tallied nine each in IPFW's 14-point loss to IUPUI. The Jaguars closed out the contest on a 27-6 run to win the game that went into halftime tied by a convincing margin. Gaines has been the go-to-guy for the Mastadons this season as he enters with a 19.8 point per game average. Hines is near a double-digit scoring average (9.6 ppg) and is pulling down a team-best six boards per outing. Isaiah McCray and Pierre Bland share the point guard responsibilities, but they are combining to dish out just 4.7 assists per contest.
WIU was guided by the efficient Terell Parks in its 10-point decision over Oakland earlier this week. Parks tallied a game-high 19 points, knocked down 8-of-10 shots from the floor, reeled in eight rebounds, and blocked three shots to power the team. Adam Link tacked on 16 points, Don McAvoy 13 and Remy Roberts-Burnett 10 points in the triumph. Ceola Clark, who entered the game as the team's leading scorer, finished with just two points on 1- of-6 shooting from the floor. Due to Clark's off-night, Parks is now pacing WIU with 13.9 points and nine rebounds per outing. Clark (12.9 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Link (9.8 ppg) have both proven they are assets for the Leathernecks on the offensive end.
Wins on the road during the league portion of the schedule do not come easily. IPFW has played well in spurts, but it has yet to show the consistency that will be needed to end WIU's momentum.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 63, IUPU-Fort Wayne 55
12/29 10:31:48 ET