IUPUI (5-19) at North Dakota State (16-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 6, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bison Sports Arena (5,830) -- Fargo, North Dakota. Television: FCS, Midco SN. Home Record: IUPUI 4-8, NDSU 7-1. Away Record: IUPUI 1-9, NDSU 8-5. Neutral Record: IUPUI 0-2, NDSU 1-0. Conference Record: IUPUI 0-7, NDSU 5-2. Series Record: IUPUI leads, 7-6.
GAME NOTES: The one team in the Summit League still without a conference victory heads to Fargo tonight to do battle with the North Dakota State Bison.
Not only has IUPUI come up empty in seven conference games this season, the team has not logged a win over a Division I opponent since the first week of December. There have been lopsided victories against Judson and Cincinnati Christian since then, but the Jaguars have been less than impressive otherwise.
The most recent loss for the program took place last Saturday when the Jags were completely dominated by the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks in a 99-71 final.
As for the Bison, who came into the week sitting in second place in the league standings with a mark of 5-2, they had a five-game win streak snapped at Denver last Saturday, 67-63. Still, NDSU is a solid 8-5 on the road in 2013-14, which complements the program's 7-1 effort at home just fine.
IUPUI leads the all-time series, 7-6, although the Bison blew the doors off the Jaguars in the first meeting of the season last month, 87-64, as TrayVonn Wright scored 24 points, leading five in double figures for the visitors. The Jags were paced by Marcellus Barksdale and Donovan Gibbs with 14 points apiece in the losing cause.
The Jags shot an impressive 51.7 percent from the field in the first half against Omaha in the last outing, but at the same time allowed the Mavericks to connect on a staggering 67.6 percent from the floor, putting the hosts in a deep hole from which they could not climb out. Elijah Ray scored 19 points for the Jags in 26 minutes off the bench, followed by Mitch Patton with 14 points, but beyond those two no one else on the roster made more than three field goals in the meeting.
A big part of the problem for the Jaguars right is that they are missing their top scorer, with Ian Chiles (15.9 ppg) now on the sidelines indefinitely following surgery on his hand. Take him out of the equation and IUPUI has only one active, double-digit scorer in Patton, responsible for 12.5 ppg as well as 6.0 rpg. However, for someone who has his hands on the ball as much as Patton does, he is far from an unselfish performer with just 12 assists in more than 650 minutes of playing time.
Lawrence Alexander scored 20 points for the Bison as he played a full 40 minutes for the visitors during their loss at Denver. Taylor Braun accounted for 17 points and four assists, followed by Marshall Bjorklund who dropped in another 10 points for a program that unfortunately turned the ball over 15 times and allowed the Pioneers to not only make good on 51.4 percent from the floor but also 9-of-16 (.563) out on the perimeter.
Braun, who has been to the free-throw line (133-of-169) almost twice as many times as any of his teammates, leads the Bison in scoring at the moment with 18.5 ppg. Not only can Braun fill up the basket, he is also capable of finding open teammates so that they too can contribute to the program's 78.4 ppg, as he leads NDSU with 86 assists. Bjorklund (14.4 ppg), Wright (11.4 ppg) and Alexander (11.0 ppg) are all key figures in the success of the Bison thus far.
As long as the Bison can continue to share the wealth and keep IUPUI on its toes at both ends of the floor, the hosts should be on track for another win tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 73, IUPUI 64
02/06 10:16:48 ET