Eastern Kentucky (8-4) at IUPU-Fort Wayne (10-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gates Sports Center (1,894) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: EKU 5-0, IPFW 5-0. Away Record: EKU 2-3, IPFW 3-4. Neutral Record: EKU 1-1, IPFW 2-0. Conference Record: EKU 0-0, IPFW 0-0. Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons attempt to continue their winning streak on Sunday afternoon, as they close out their three-game homestand at Gates Sports Center with a non-conference matchup against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
EKU recently concluded a four-game road swing in which it lost three of four, but it returned home for its most recent game to take down North Carolina A&T, 84-73. The Colonels are an impressive 8-4 on the season despite their pedestrian ledger in true road games (2-3).
IPFW has exceeded expectations in the first two months of the season by boasting a 10-4 record, its best start since becoming a Division I program. The Mastodons made easy work of Eastern Illinois on Dec. 21, 86-65, to extend their winning streak to four games and remain perfect on their home floor (5-0).
The Colonels have won two of the three all-time meetings with IPFW, which includes a 78-69 triumph on Feb. 18, 2011.
Although EKU's defensive performance wasn't its strongest the last time out, allowing NC A&T to shoot 49 percent from the field, it outpaced its opponent by making good on a lofty 56 percent of its field goal tries in the 11-point victory, including a 13-of-28 showing from beyond the arc. Marcus Lewis paced the squad with 20 points on 7-of-12 from the field, and his effort could have been even stronger had he not struggled at the foul line (3-of-9). Glenn Cosey added 19 points and five assists, while Corey Walden chipped in 10 points.
On the season, the Colonels have played well on both ends of the floor, scoring 77.3 points per game while allowing just 67.0. They shoot an impressive 46.3 percent from the field, and while they are consistently outmanned on the glass (-7.0 rebounding margin), they own the nation's third- best turnover margin (+7.4). Cosey shoots 41.7 percent from 3-point range en route to 19.4 points per game, while also handing out 4.7 assists per contest. Marcus Lewis, Orlando Williams and Walden are all stellar, each netting between 11.0 and 12.0 points per game.
The Mastodons cruised to victory in their most recent game by shooting 54.7 percent from the field, which included an outstanding 13-of-23 showing from 3- point distance. Steve Forbes was the catalyst in the triumph with 20 points on a nearly perfect night, as he shot 6-of-8 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Luis Jacobo provided a huge spark off the bench with 18 points, Isaiah McCray poured in 15 points and Mo Evans rounded out the well- balanced attack with 12 points.
IPFW's success this season has come on the back of an outstanding offensive attack. It shoots just shy of 50 percent from the field (including 7.9 3- pointers per game at a 40.4 percent success rate) for 78.4 points per game, which is nearly 10 points more than it allows. If the squad has an Achilles' Heel, it comes at the foul line, where it makes good on just 64 percent of its tries. Despite having yet to start a game, Jacobo leads the team with 14.3 points per game. Forbes (11.7 ppg) ranks in the top-20 nationally in field goal percentage (.659), while Pierre Bland, Michael Kibiloski and Evans pour in between 9.0 and 9.9 points per game.
Both teams have shown flashes of brilliance this season, especially from beyond the arc, but with EKU struggling on the road, expect the red-hot Mastodons to continue their success in Fort Wayne.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 78, Eastern Kentucky 73
12/29 10:33:13 ET