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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Jungle (1,215) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: HTSN, ESPN3.com. Home Record: WIU 6-2, IUPUI 6-3. Away Record: WIU 1-9, IUPUI 4-6. Neutral Record: WIU 2-1, IUPUI 2-1. Conference Record: WIU 2-3, IUPUI 3-6. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 28-11.
GAME NOTES: Two teams in desperate need of a win square off on Thursday night, as the Western Illinois Leathernecks visit the IUPUI Jaguars in a Summit League clash at The Jungle.
A 67-55 loss to Denver last Saturday was the third in the last four games for Western Illinois. The Leathernecks are now 8-12 overall, with a mark of just 2-3 against the rest of the conference. Playing on the road isn't likely to help matters, with the team owning a single win in 10 trips this season. That is bad news considering the Leathernecks next two games are also away from home.
IUPUI has been even worse this season, with a 5-17 ledger overall entering Thursday's contest. The Jaguars have lost five straight games and have not posted a win against a Division I opponent since edging out NC Central in a 71-65 final in early December. They will host Nebraska-Omaha next.
Last season, Western Illinois swept the series with IUPUI, although the two wins came by a combined 13 points. The Leathernecks lead the all-time series by a 28-11 margin.
The Leathernecks' slow start was too much to overcome in their loss to Denver. They managed to connect on only 38.9 percent of their shots in the first half, entering the break trailing 28-16, while being outscored 22-7 off of turnovers.
Defensively, Western Illinois is one of the top teams in the Summit League as it limits foes to 60.8 ppg on 40.7 percent shooting. In fact, the Leathernecks are 12th nationally in scoring defense. However, they are scoring a paltry 62.1 ppg themselves. Garret Covington (14.1 ppg) is the only player on the roster scoring in double figures. He finished with a team-high 12 points on 4- of-10 shooting against Denver. Adam Link (8.9 ppg) is the next-best scoring option. Link knocked down both his shots from the floor, but finished with only seven points against Denver.
IUPUI was run over by IUPU-Fort Wayne last time out, falling in a 90-75 decision. The Jaguars were outscored 39-15 from beyond the arc, while allowing the Mastodons to connect on 56.5 percent of their total shots. Khufu Najee scored a game-high 20 points for the Jaguars.
There are a few more scoring threats at head coach Todd Howard's disposal, chief among them is Ian Chiles (15.9 ppg), who is actually third in the Summit League in scoring. However, Chiles missed the game with IPFW due to injury. His status remains uncertain for Thursday's tilt. Mitch Patton (12.6 ppg, 6 rpg), Najee (9.8 ppg) and Marcellus Barksdale (9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.5 apg) had to pick up the slack in Chiles' absence, and may have to again. Patton tallied 19 points against IPFW, while Barksdale, who leads the team in assists and rebounds, tacked on 13 points, five boards and five helpers.
With Chiles' status up in the air, it is difficult to see how the Jaguars will find enough offense against the defensive-minded Leathernecks, even at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 65, IUPUI 58
01/30 10:37:07 ET
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