Indianapolis, IN – After a home win against Kentucky State restored IUPUI’s .500 record, back-to-back losses in the Legends Classic to Kennesaw State and South Alabama revealed that this team still has plenty of growing to do. Tuesday night’s 78-68 loss to South Alabama was unquestionably the most disheartening loss in the Classic, as IUPUI went scoreless over the final five minutes and gave up a late 68-64 lead.
T.J. Henderson replaced Darell Combs in the starting lineup against South Alabama and posted a season-high 14 points. Combs led the Jaguars in scoring though with 18 points including going 9-for-12 from the line. Henderson and Combs combined to shoot 8-for-17 from the floor (47 percent) but the rest of the team shot just 15-for-49 (30.6 percent).
Four South Alabama players finished in double figures led by Ken Williams with 19 points on only eight shots.
IUPUI trailed by as many as eight points in the first half, but closed the half by pulling to within two points, 39-37. Four free throws from Henderson and Marcellus Barksdale to open up the second half gave them their first lead since the opening minutes of the game, 41-39, and capped off an 11-1 run.
South Alabama retook the lead and pushed it to five points, 57-52 before IUPUI made another run. A layup from Jordan Pickett and a 3-pointer from Henderson evened the score at 57. After South Alabama went back up 60-57, IUPUI got two pairs of free throws from Pickett and Combs. After the teams traded layups, Combs made three more foul shots on a pair of trips to the line to take a 66-62 lead. Matt O’Leary’s basket on the next possession gave IUPUI a 68-64 lead with 5:18 to go, but that would be the last of IUPUI’s points on the afternoon. They would go 0-7 from the floor including three missed 3-pointers in addition to two turnovers and five fouls.
It took South Alabama 82 seconds to regain the lead and they cruised to a 10-point win.
The road doesn’t get any easier from here for the Jaguars. Their next two games are on the road against Georgia State and Ball State. IUPUI played both teams at home last year and beat Ball State in dramatic fashion in overtime 71-69, but lost to Georgia State 66-63.
IUPUI will tip against Georgia State Friday at 7 p.m.