Eastern Illinois (3-7) at IUPU-Fort Wayne (9-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gates Sports Center (1,894) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: EIU 2-2, IPFW 4-0. Away Record: EIU 1-5, IPFW 3-4. Neutral Record: EIU 0-0, IPFW 2-0. Conference Record: EIU 0-0, IPFW 0-0. Series Record: IPFW leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams heading in opposite directions will settle their differences at the Gates Sports Center on Saturday, as the Eastern Illinois Panthers visit the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons.
The Panthers were in action on Thursday and yet again they were defeated, this time in a 70-43 rout against Wright State. The loss was the fifth straight for Eastern Illinois, which is just 3-7 this season. That mark includes a 1-5 ledger on the road. The Panthers get into Ohio Valley Conference play next with a three-game homestand beginning against Tennessee State.
IPFW has been off since last Friday when it ran away with a 95-75 victory over SIU Edwardsville. The Mastodons have now won three straight duels and are on the cusp of their 10th win of the season. Playing at home should help the cause as they have yet to lose in four tries as the host. The Gates Sports Center is the site for their next game as well against Eastern Kentucky.
This is actually the second meeting between these teams this season. Back on Nov. 27 the Mastodons collected a 71-65 victory on the road over the Panthers. IPFW has won three of the four all-time meetings.
A miserable offensive night in which they hit just 40.5 percent of their shots from the floor, was compounded by 21 turnovers for the Panthers against Wright State. Eastern Illinois only had 15 field goals in total, with Sherman Blanford scoring 15 points and securing 11 rebounds to lead the way.
Through 10 games the Panthers have been unable to find an offensive identity or at least a successful one. They are netting just 59.3 points per game and connecting on just over 40 percent of their attempts from the floor. They also only assist on 9.9 field goals a contest. Leading scorer Reggie Smith (12.1 ppg) missed a game with a concussion, but made his return on Thursday. However, he finished with only five points on 2-of-4 shooting. Smith is the only player on the roster averaging in double figures. Blanford (9.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is the next best option and also the team's only contributor bringing in more than four rebounds per game.
Luis Jacobo scored 20 points off the bench to lead five players in double figures during IPFW's win over SIU Edwardsville. As a team the Mastodons converted on 57.4 percent of their field-goal attempts, including a 12-of-25 showing from 3-point range.
Efficient scoring has been a staple for the Mastodons this year. They are knocking down 49.4 percent of their shots, ranking among the top 25 teams in the nation in field-goal percentage. The efficiency blends with an impressive amount of scoring balance. Jacobo (13.9 ppg) is the leading scorer, but does so as a reserve. Steve Forbes (11.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Pierre Bland (10 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.5 apg) are also scoring in double figures, but make major impacts in other areas. Bland showed off his versatility against SIU Edwardsville with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The scoring options don't end there as five others players are putting in at least seven points per game.
IPFW can score and do so without relying on just a single scorer. Eastern Illinois cannot. Expect the Mastodons to roll to a double-digit victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 77, Eastern Illinois 64
12/21 11:16:34 ET