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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Coliseum (13,000) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Omaha 3-2, IPFW 5-0. Away Record: Omaha 0-10, IPFW 1-8. Neutral Record: Omaha 1-1, IPFW 1-1. Conference Record: Omaha 1-4, IPFW 0-2. Series Record: IUPU-Fort Wayne leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Omaha Mavericks will try once again to record their first road win of the season, as they square off with the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons in a Summit League matchup at War Memorial Coliseum.
Omaha's road struggles have been the biggest reason for its lackluster 4-13 record, as it has dropped all 10 tilts away from home. The Mavericks were able to salvage a terrible start to the season on Monday by logging their first conference win, 77-65, but they reverted back to their losing ways at Oakland on Thursday night in a 91-79 final.
IPFW currently sits with a losing record thanks to a treacherous run away from home, where it has won just once in nine tries. Fortunately for the Mastodons, they returned home on Wednesday to face Navy, and they came away with a 68-63 victory, and they remain unbeaten on the season at War Memorial Coliseum (5-0).
The Mastodons have won both previous matchups with the Mavericks, most recently taking an 83-80 overtime decision on the road in December of 2011.
Omaha actually put together one of its strongest shooting performances of the season in its last outing, making 30-of-55 from the field (.545), including 11-of-22 from 3-point range. However, in the end it was hindered by 20 turnovers and a poor effort at the defensive end, allowing Oakland to net 50.7 percent of its 69 field goal attempts. Justin Simmons was impressive in shooting 8-of-16 from the field for 24 points, marking the third time in five games he has scored 20 or more points. John Karhoff added 14 points on an efficient night from the floor (6-of-8). The Mavericks have had difficulty stopping the opposition all season, as their scoring defense (82.1 ppg) ranks in the bottom five of Division I. It doesn't help matters that they only score 66.4 ppg and get outrebounded by nearly nine boards per contest. Simmons leads the way with 14.0 ppg, and Karhoff is the only other player to average double figures with his 11.6 ppg.
After a back-and-forth first half ended in a 32-32 tie, IPFW took control after intermission against Navy as it was able to hold on for the five-point victory. The home team shot 50 percent from the field and turned the ball over just 10 times. Leading the way for IPFW was Luis Jacobo, who drilled 5-of-9 3- point attempts en route to a season-high 22 points. Frank Gaines was also impressive in the Mastodons backcourt with 17 points while shooting 8-of-11 from the foul line, and Joe Edwards came off the bench to net 15 points. The offensive output hasn't always been strong for IPFW (.408 FG percentage, 65.1 ppg), but it stills averages 2.1 ppg more than its opponents by playing solid defense (.429 FG percentage against) and winning the rebounding battle (plus-4.7 rpg). Gaines is the team's leading scorer with 18.8 ppg, but he relies mostly on high volume as he shoots just 39.2 percent from the field. Jacobo is the only other Mastodon to score in double figures on a nightly basis with 10.3 ppg, while Mario Hines adds 8.9 rpg, 5.6 rpg, and more than a block per contest.
IPFW has been far from a model of consistency, but with its unbeaten mark at home and Omaha's struggles on the road, the Mastodons appear in line for their first conference win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 78, Nebraska Omaha 64
01/05 10:32:47 ET
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