INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After a big upset 10 days ago against North Dakota State and their second conference road win on Thursday, IUPUI seemed poised to go on a winning streak. Despite playing at home where they were 7-2 entering Saturday night’s contest and playing against the team with the worst record in the Summit League, IUPUI came up short. They trailed the entire second-half despite a 10-0 run midway through and lost 74-68.
Darell Combs put up his second straight 18-point effort while shooting over 50 percent from the floor. Aaron Brennan started again in place of Evan Hall and finished with 14 points and four rebounds. In his last three starts he’s averaged 14 points on 45 percent shooting and five rebounds. Matt O’Leary might have the most noteworthy stat of the night though with a season-low tying six points. After stringing together 19 consecutive games with 10 or more points, he’s now scored less than 10 in four of the last six games. IUPUI is 0-4 in those four games and 2-0 in the other two games.
Aaron Anderson led Oral Roberts with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Albert Owens and Kris Martin both scored 16 points off the bench. The Oral Roberts bench combined to outscore the IUPUI bench 37-17 thanks to Owens and Martin.
IUPUI quickly took a 6-2 lead to open the game thanks to back-to-back three-point baskets from Kellon Thomas and Brennan, but neither team got any breathing room for most of the half. Combs hit a 3-pointer to go up 29-28 with 5:33 left in the half, but Oral Roberts went on a big run that enabled them to take control of the game. Martin answered Comb’s shot with a layup to retake the lead. It was the first of four consecutive scoring possessions for the Golden Eagles. Thomas ended their 9-0 run with a layup, but Ron Patterson fouled Martin on the next play on a 3-point try leading to three made free throws. With two seconds left in the half, D.J. McCall fouled Anderson who hit both free throws to take a 42-31 lead into the half. Then on the opening possession of the second half, Thomas fouled Jalen Bradley on a shot and he hit both free throws to extend the lead to 13 points and cap a 16-2 run.
With under nine minutes to go and the Jaguars trailing 60-50, Martin hit a 3-pointer to match the game-high 13-point lead. Then the Jaguars would make their final push. Brennan hit a 3-pointer to get back to 10 points. On the following possession and he got a layup and drew a foul. After a media timeout, he hit the free throw to bring IUPUI within seven. Two possessions later Owens had a put-back opportunity, but Brennan blocked the shot leading to a fast-break layup for Thomas to pull IUPUI within five points. Oral Roberts turned the ball over on the other end and Combs capitalized with a layup to cap off IUPUI’s 10-0 run.
Oral Roberts was able to stabilize and stretched their lead to seven points, 71-64 with under a minute to go, but couldn’t close the door on IUPUI. Twice they fouled the Jaguars allowing them to score some points without time running off the clock. After Thomas made both of his free throws with 33 seconds left, Oral Roberts led 71-68. They hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 28 seconds though and IUPUI missed both of their final shots.
Evan Hall hasn’t returned to his pre-injury form, but otherwise there’s not much of an excuse for IUPUI in this one. The offense wasn’t amazing at only 44 percent shooting, but they only turned the ball over eight times and took nine more shots than their opponents. Unfortunately they just couldn’t defend well enough and allowed Oral Roberts to shoot over 50 percent overall and from 3-point range.
Combine this game with their previous two wins and you have the most inconsistent team in the Summit League. Hopefully for the Jaguars they break the mold Wednesday at South Dakota State. They’ve lost nine of their last ten games in the Dakotas including their last five and each game this season.