Indianapolis, IN – After a promising 7-2 start to Summit League play, IUPUI has taken a few steps back with three straight losses and blowouts in the last two. Oral Roberts won the first matchup between the two teams back in January and put this one away from the get go. An 18-0 run in the opening minutes but IUPUI in a double-figure hole they wouldn’t climb out of of.
Matt O’Leary scored 13 points to lead IUPUI and Darell Combs scored 12. Nick Osborne came off the bench with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Obi Emegano scored 21 for Oral Roberts to go along with 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
For the second straight game, IUPUI never really had a shot. After turning the ball over twice in the first three possessions, Marcellus Barksdale hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at five, but then IUPUI went scoreless for over six minutes while Oral Roberts built a 23-5 lead. Aaron Brennan ended the run by converting a three-point play with 11:40 to go to cut the deficit to 15 and IUPUI had it down to 13 at the break.
The gap hovered around the 15-point mark until late in the second half. John Hubler hit a 3-pointer with 6:23 to go cutting the Oral Roberts lead to 13, 61-48, but Oral Roberts answered with a 14-2 run giving them a 25-point lead with under two minutes to go and seal the game.
Losing streaks happen, especially with multiple road games. After IUPUI’s 7-2 start, a three-game road losing streak might just be a combination of missing shots, bad bounces, etc. But there are some troublesome trends spanning back to before conference play began that their 7-2 conference start has masked. IUPUI is the worst shooting team and worst assisting team in the Summit League and it’s not very close. In their last three games, IUPUI has shot under 40 percent in all three and has an assist-turnover ratio of less than one. They had a stretch of fives games averaging over 70 points per game, but those numbers aren’t sustainable for a team that has generally shot poorly and doesn’t generate many free points off backdoor cuts, drive and kicks, or free throws as a result of driving to the basket.
IUPUI is certainly capable of better offensive performances. That five-game stretch is a great example. The trouble is they need to find a delicate balance between speeding the game up to generate more easy scoring opportunities and not speeding it up so much that they can’t get back and settled down on defense. The other problem is somehow finding more rhythm on the road. While they are 4-1 and score over 71 points per game at home in Summit League, they are just 3-4 and score 66.2 points per game on the road.
The bad news is the conference tournament takes place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The good news is they have three out of four games at home before the tournament begins. They’ll host Omaha on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. for their next game.