After a short layoff, it’s time to get back to the Jungle for a little college hoops action tonight. The IUPUI Jaguars are hosting the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds tonight in what is the final time the Jags will face them in conference action. The T-birds are leaving The Summit League after this season to join the Big Sky Conference and Southland Conference. Bye-bye, T-birds. I hardly knew ye.
A Demoralizing Loss.
Actually, last year, the T-birds handed IUPUI what I consider to be one of the most embarrassing losses I’ve ever witnessed at The Jungle. IUPUI jumped out to a 22-6 lead to open the game. “We are KILLING them!” I said, at the time. Yeah, that was until the second-half collapse. Southern Utah outscored IUPUI 52-28 to win the game, 80-68. Think about that. The Jags were outscored by 28 points when they were up by 16 points.
In the seven or eight seasons I’d been working their games, I’d never seen such a colossal breakdown on our home floor. It was demoralizing. Southern Utah has always been a decent-but-not-great team in our conference. But on this night, they never quit…and shot the lights out.
Tonight’s game is important for more pertinent reasons than payback. Both teams are 2-4 in the conference. IUPUI needs to get on a bit of a run to sneak back into contention and it has to start tonight.
Scouting the T-Birds.
Southern Utah brings in a balanced offense, with four players averaging double-digit scoring (Stevenett, Taylor, Massey, Heuir). But as a team, they’re only averaging a shade over 69 points per game. IUPUI averages around 74 ppg, so the T-birds need to contain the Jags’ top scorer, Alex Young (20.1 ppg) if they are to stand a chance.
Southern Utah will keep it close in the first half, but Alex Young will explode in the second half for IUPUI and the Jags pull away with an important conference win.