North Dakota State (18-6) at IUPU-Fort Wayne (10-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gates Sports Center (2,300) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: NDSU 10-0, IPFW 8-3. Away Record: NDSU 6-6, IPFW 1-11. Neutral Record: NDSU 2-0, IPFW 1-1. Conference Record: NDSU 9-3, IPFW 3-8. Series Record: IUPU-Fort Wayne leads, 8-7.
GAME NOTES: With both squads attempting to rebound from losses, the North Dakota State Bison and the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons meet at the Gates Sports Center for a Summit League bout on Saturday night.
NDSU took on Oakland on the road on Thursday night and lost a late lead to falter, 66-63, dropping to 9-3 in the Summit League and out of first place. The Bison have been mediocre on the road (6-6), and they are riding a three- game losing streak away from home, but they are still an impressive 18-6 on the season.
IPFW fell victim to a historic performance from South Dakota State's Nate Wolters on Thursday, losing by a 80-74 margin to fall to 10-15 on the season and just 3-8 in league play. The Mastodons are a stellar 8-3 at home, but they have lost three of their last four games played in Fort Wayne.
NDSU won the first meeting between the squads this season, claiming a 67-55 home decision on Jan. 10, but IPFW has won four of the last six meetings and hold an 8-7 advantage in the all-time series.
Despite trailing for much of the game its last time out, NDSU ripped off an 8-0 run late in the second half to take a 63-59 lead with just over two minutes remaining, but it would not score another point as Oakland came back to win. The Bison shot a solid 46.2 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle, 36-28, but the difference was made at the foul line where they were outscored by a 14-7 margin. Lawrence Alexander was outstanding in defeat, scoring 21 points while handing out seven assists against only one turnover. Marshall Bjorklund and TrayVonn Wright each scored 12 points, while Wright grabbed 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. NDSU has a strong offensive attack, netting 68.8 ppg on greater than 48 percent field goal shooting, and pairing it with a fantastic scoring defense (55.8 ppg) has allowed it to become one of the Summit League's elite squads. The offense has suffered a bit in the absence of Taylor Braun (15.2 ppg), who is out with a broken foot, but Bjorklund (12.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Alexander (10.3 ppg, 4.2 apg), Wright (10.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Mike Felt (9.0 ppg) have helped pick up the slack.
IPFW held a 37-29 lead over SDSU at the half on Thursday, but fell victim to a record-setting 53-point performance by Wolters as it was ultimately saddled with the six-point loss. It was still one of the Mastodons' strongest performances of the season at the offensive end of the court, as they drained 49.1 percent of their field goal attempts, including 9-of-20 from 3-point range. Frank Gaines continued his hot streak by shooting 11-of-22 en route to 29 points, his third straight game with at least that many points. Jacobo was also solid in the setback with 14 points. Gaines' recent run of success has allowed his scoring average to jump up to 19.5 ppg, third in the Summit League. He one of the most active players in the country at the free-throw line, converting 144-of-190 attempts (.758). Jacobo (11.0 ppg) is the only other player in double figures for IPFW, which scores nearly as many points (65.8 ppg) as it allows (65.9 ppg).
With the presence of Gaines and the home court advantage, a win for IPFW isn't out of the question, but NDSU is simply the more talented and balanced team, and the Bison should be able to get back on track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 67, IUPU-Fort Wayne 62
02/09 10:35:22 ET