OMAHA, Neb. – After a full week off, IUPUI showed little rust and took care of business at Omaha. They took an early 11-0 lead and never looked back, avenging their January home loss to Omaha with an 89-78 win.
Kellon Thomas scored a career-high 25 points to lead all scorers and too just seven shots to get there while going 13-for-13 from the free-throw line. Darell Combs and Matt O’Leary each had strong performances as well with 18 and 17 points respectively. Aaron Brennan started for the second time in place of Evan Hall and cooled off from the last game against North Dakota State, but still scored 11 points with four rebounds.
Marcus Tyus led Omaha with 20 points but turned the ball over seven times. Tra-Deon Hollins flirted with a triple-double with 11 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Despite not playing a game in the previous seven days and sporting a 1-4 road record in conference play coming into Wednesday night’s game at Omaha, IUPUI seemed perfectly in rhythm to start the game. They scored on their first possession and got steals from Aaron Brennan, and D.J. McCall on each of the next three Omaha possessions. After a three-pointer from Brennan less than two-and-a-half minutes in, IUPUI led 11-0. Omaha got back within two points a couple of times, but IUPUI extended the lead to as much as 13 points before a late first-half run cut IUPUI’s half-time lead to 45-38.
The Jaguars started off the second half the same way they started the first and removed any momentum Omaha had built. After Tyus scored on the opening possession, IUPUI used a pair of 3-pointers to book-end an 11-2 run to go up 56-42.
IUPUI allowed Omaha to shoot 56 percent in the first half, but cruised in the second by allowing them to shoot under 40 percent. The Mavericks only briefly got within 10 points after IUPUI’s 11-2 run. It would have been an even more lopsided, but Omaha got a significant boost from the free-throw line in the second half. They got to the line 26 times and converted 23 attempts.
Other than the free-throw disparity, there wasn’t much to complain about in IUPUI’s performance. They shot 50 percent from the floor, had five fewer turnovers than Omaha and outscored them by 11 points off the turnover. McCall only scored two points, but added six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
After losing six of eight games, IUPUI has now won two straight including one against the top team in conference (North Dakota State) and one on the road. They’ll be back at it this Saturday taking on Oral Roberts at home.