INDIANAPOLIS, In. – IUPUI came into Sunday’s contest playing their best basketball of the season. They’d won three games in a row all as underdogs. Northern Kentucky dragged the Jaguars back down to earth. They held IUPUI to a season-low 17 points in the first half and won in a blowout, 75-56.
The Jaguars shot an abysmal 20.8 percent in the first half, and didn’t fair much better in the second. Individually, Ron Patterson was the only player who had anything close to a successful night shooting. He finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Nobody else eclipsed the 40-percent mark. T.J. Henderson has been an excellent sixth man averaging close to 15 points per game in the last seven coming off the bench. He finished with 14 but shot just 4-for-11.
IUPUI has won low-scoring games before this season. They defeated Wright State two days ago 66-56 and scored 67 on both wins over Green Bay. In all three cases though, their defense picked up the slack.
With 3:16 to go in the first half, Patterson hit a three-point basket to pull IUPUI within six, 23-17. A low scoring half was inevitable, but they were in a similar situation against Wright State. They trailed by three at the half and then sped things up in the second. This time, Northern Kentucky turned things up and they didn’t wait for the second half to arrive. Over the final 2:08 of the first half, they went on a 9-0 run to take a 32-17 lead into the break. Six more points out of the break extended the run to 15-0 and the lead to 38-17. IUPUI didn’t hit the 20-point mark until 18:14 left in the game
Even if the defense hadn’t given up 51-percent shooting, it would have been difficult to pull this one out. IUPUI shot just 30 percent on the game and committed 18 turnovers. They had four steals and no blocks, tied for the fewest combined steals and blocks of the season. The other two times were a 82-74 loss at Oakland and a blowout loss at Gonzaga.
A 19-point loss is not a great way to end a season, but IUPUI still finished strong overall winning four of their last six after dropping five straight. The downside to their strong finish is that five of those six were at home where IUPUI finished 9-4. They’ll now travel to Detroit for the Horizon League Tournament. While it’s a neutral site, IUPUI is just 3-14 away from home this season and 1-3 in neutral site games during the Summit League Tournament under Head Coach Jason Gardner the previous three seasons.
The Jaguars will have a full week off before taking on Oakland in the first round next Sunday night at 7:30 pm. The Jaguars split the season series against Oakland with each team winning at home.