IUPUI (6-13) at Nebraska Omaha (4-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ralston Arena (3,500) -- Omaha, Nebraska. Television: None. Home Record: IUPUI 4-3, Omaha 3-2. Away Record: IUPUI 1-8, Omaha 0-11. Neutral Record: IUPUI 1-2, Omaha 1-1. Conference Record: IUPUI 1-4, Omaha 1-5. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The IUPUI Jaguars look to bounce back from a tough loss as they venture to Ralston Arena for a Summit League bout against the conference's newcomer Nebraska-Omaha.
The Jaguars saw their losing streak extended to three games on Saturday as they fell in overtime by four points at Western Illinois. The setback lowered IUPUI to a 6-13 overall record with an early 1-4 mark to recover from in Summit League action. It will not be easy to do so for the Jaguars at Ralston Arena, as they are just 1-8 in true road games. Despite being seven games below .500, IUPUI is still outscoring its opponents by 0.8 points per game.
Omaha's first tour of the league has not been a pleasant journey so far. The Mavericks saw their conference record fall to 1-5 on Saturday as they were routed, 96-78, by IUPU-Fort Wayne on the road. The return home could not hurt, as they are 3-2 on their own floor compared to 0-11 in away games. The poor overall results for Omaha this season stems from its inability to limit its opposition, which is producing 82.9 ppg.
This will be the first meeting on the hardwood in history between these schools.
IUPUI appeared to be headed towards its second Summit League decision of the year on Saturday as it held a 28-16 lead at halftime after limiting Western Illinois to just 28 percent shooting from the field. The Leathernecks started the second half hot and took a 37-36 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation. With Western Illinois leading, 45-43, in the waning seconds, Lyonell Gaines converted a layup for IUPUI to tie the game and force overtime, where the Leathernecks prevailed. John Hart came off the bench to net 14 points, while Sean Esposito and Greg Rice put up 11 and 10 points, respectively. Hart, a Purdue transfer, paces the team with 14.2 ppg. Mitchell Patton is also carrying a double-digit scoring average of 13.1 points to go along with his 5.1 boards per outing.
The Mavericks' weaknesses on the defensive end were exposed in their loss to IPFW. The Mastodons came into the contest averaging 65.1 ppg with a 40.8 field goal percentage, but they exploded for 96 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor, including a deadly 14-of-24 mark from 3-point range. Omaha also sent IPFW to the charity stripe an overwhelming amount, allowing it to produce 26 additional points. Junior guard Justin Simmons paced Omaha with 24 points, shooting 11-of-18 from the field, while adding a team-leading six rebounds. Simmons enters Thursday with a three-game streak of 20-plus point efforts which has raised his scoring average to 14.6 ppg. Freshman guard Marcus Tyus poured in a season-high 20 points in the loss to IPFW.
Both these teams are going to be hungry for a victory in this one. Omaha is going to need to do a much better job on the glass or it may not win another game this season. Hart can be very dangerous for IUPUI due to his 3-point shooting ability. If he gets into a rhythm, Omaha's lackadaisical defense will be in trouble.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPUI 76, Nebraska Omaha 69
01/10 10:34:11 ET