South Dakota (9-14) at IUPU-Fort Wayne (18-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 13, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gates Sports Center (1,894) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: USD 8-3, IPFW 11-1. Away Record: USD 1-10, IPFW 5-7. Neutral Record: USD 0-1, IPFW 2-0. Conference Record: USD 3-5, IPFW 6-3. Series Record: IUPU-Fort Wayne leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a difficult road trip, the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons will try to right the ship when they host the South Dakota Coyotes in Summit League action on Thursday evening.
Facing their biggest competition for the Summit League crown on the road, the Mastodons fell flat in losses to both South Dakota State (79-51) and North Dakota State (69-58) last week. IPFW is now tied with the Jackrabbits for second place, and a game back of the Bison for first in the league standings (6-3), despite its impressive 18-8 overall record. The Mastodons play their final home game of the season on Saturday against Denver, before closing the campaign with a three-game road trip.
South Dakota has fallen well out off the Summit League title pace, with losses in five straight league tests, including a 75-67 setback against Denver last Saturday. The Coyotes are just 9-14 overall, including a 3-5 success rate against the rest of the Summit. This contest begins the final stretch for them as well, as four of their final six games take place away from home.
Although South Dakota has not reached such lofty heights as IPFW, the Coyotes are the only other team in the Summit League to have topped the Mastodons, earning a 75-61 victory in the first meeting between the two this season. IPFW still leads the short-lived series, 3-2.
South Dakota couldn't come up with enough stops, especially out on the perimeter, to defeat Denver. The Coyotes allowed a slew of 3-pointers to the Pioneers, while letting them shoot 46.6 percent from the floor overall. South Dakota also lost the turnover battle (11-5), leading to a 21-13 scoring deficit.
As a collective unit, South Dakota isn't one of the elite offensive groups in the Summit League. The Coyotes are fifth in the conference in scoring (70.6 ppg) and seventh in field goal percentage (.445). However, they are only being outscored by a slim margin (-0.8). Brandon Bos (12.3 ppg) and Trevor Gruis (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) share the bulk of the scoring responsibility. Gruis is the more efficient scorer, shooting 56.1 percent from the floor, but that is primarily because Bos plays more out on the wing, netting 39.3 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Trey Norris (8.1 ppg, 4.6 apg) leads the Summit League in assists.
Despite a game-high 17 points from Steve Forbes, IPFW still lost to North Dakota State the last time out. The MAstodons let themselves down by shooting just 39.1 percent from the floor, while turning the ball over 16 times. That led to a 22-11 scoring deficit off of takeaways.
IPFW is doing a better job offensively compared to South Dakota. The Mastodons are third in the league in scoring (76.7 ppg), while shooting the 12th-best percentage from the floor (.489) in the country. Luis Jacobo (14.8 ppg) leads the team in scoring despite splitting time between the starting lineup and coming off the bench. Jacobo was a starter against North Dakota State and finished with 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Forbes (12.2 ppg) is the next best scoring option, hitting an impressive 63.8 percent from the field, the best mark in the Summit League. Finally, Mo Evans (10 ppg) is also averaging in double figures, while Pierre Bland (9.5 ppg, 4.1 apg) runs the point.
The loss IPFW suffered to South Dakota earlier this season was surprising. The Mastodons aren't about to fall victim again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 75, South Dakota 68
02/13 10:32:07 ET