INDIANAPOLIS, In. – The last time these two teams played, nearly two months ago, Wright State held IUPUI to their lowest point total of the season. It was IUPUI’s eighth loss in the last nine games and put them at 0-2 in their first season in the Horizon League. This time around, it was just as much of a grind, but the Jaguars were the ones to methodically pull ahead. Their 66-56 win is their third straight and more impressively, all of them have been as underdogs.
T.J. Henderson and D.J. McCall both had productive yet unusual outings. They combined for 23 points but made just two field goals. Henderson went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line and McCall was 9-for-11. The Jaguars made 23 free throws overall, the most in a game this season.
Very early it looked like there would be a repeat of the last time these two teams met. IUPUI got on the board first with a three-point basket from Nick Rogers, who finished with 11 points. Over five minutes went by before either team scored again and over seven minutes before IUPUI scored again. These long scoring droughts plagued the Jaguars earlier this season and most often spelled disaster. Wright State was unable to capitalize though and they went into the break tied at 29.
IUPUI had a sloppy start to the second. Aaron Brennan hit a couple jumpers an McCall got two at the line, but they committed five fouls and turnover in the first five minutes. The Raiders took a 39-35 lead after a 10-2 run. Once again it looked like it was starting to pull in favor of Wright State but once again IUPUI recovered. Evan Hall made a layup to end the run. Rogers then stole the ball and got two free throws to tie the game at 39. Wright State turned it over again on the next possession and Hall scored again to take a 41-39 lead. A miss by the Raiders led to a quick layup by Henderson and a four-point lead.
Wright State managed to take back the lead a couple times, but IUPUI started to pull away after a 3-pointer from Jaylen Minnett with 8:31 to go. Four free throws from Henderson and a layup from Hall with 5:50 left gave IUPUI a 56-48 lead. McCall hit two free throws with 2:52 left to go up 60-52 and two more a minute later to go up 10.
That IUPUI beat Wright State at home isn’t remarkable. Their three game winning streak is though. Earlier in the season IUPUI was 0-8 as an underdog and coming into this stretch they were 2-11. They routinely fell behind early in games this season due to long scoreless stretches and were unable to recover. In two of the three games during their streak they’ve had four-minute scoring droughts and still won. Additionally they’ve built up second-half leads and secured the game at the line multiple times. Beating the spread, recovering from a scoring drought and winning at the line all seemed impossible earlier this year, but they now seem to be the norm.
Wright State and Northern Kentucky have sat of the top of the Horizon League standings most of the season. Now that IUPUI has beaten the former, they will cap off their regular season with one more game against the latter.