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IUPU-Fort Wayne (14-5) at Denver (7-9)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 16, 9 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Magness Arena (7,200) -- Denver, Colorado. Television: None. Home Record: IPFW 8-1, Denver 4-2. Away Record: IPFW 4-4, Denver 2-5. Neutral Record: IPFW 2-0, Denver 1-2. Conference Record: IPFW 2-0, Denver 0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: The IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons will try for a season-high-tying fifth straight win on Thursday night when they head to Magness Arena for a Summit League showdown with the Denver Pioneers.

IPFW is in the midst of a four-game winning streak, which includes victories in both of its opening Summit League contests last week versus North Dakota State (82-71) and South Dakota State (82-75). The Mastodons are a stellar 14-5 overall this season and have been able to tread water on the road with four wins and four losses.

Denver, on the other hand, has been inconsistent this season, boasting just a 7-9 overall record with losses in three of its last four outings. The Pioneers most recently dropped their league lidlifter last Saturday afternoon with a 59-54 loss at South Dakota, but now they'll return home where they have gone 4-2 at Magness Arena.

The Mastodons and the Pioneers, who just became conference foes this season, have never before played one another on the hardwood.

IPFW managed to hold on for a seven-point victory over SDSU in its most recent game by outshooting its opponent from the field, 47.6 percent to 46.9 percent, and by holding convincing margins in both the turnover (13-8) and rebounding (36-29) battles. Pacing four teammates in double figures was Luis Jacobo, who netted 24 points on 10-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Steve Forbes was also stellar with 16 points on 6-of-7 from the floor, while Mo Evans and Joe Reed each scored 11 in reserve minutes.

The Mastodons have excelled offensively this season, as they shoot just a shade below 50 percent from the field (including 40.4 percent from beyond the arc) for 79.2 ppg, 9.2 ppg more than they allow. Jacobo is the spark plug with 15.0 ppg and is one of three players with at least 30 3-pointers. Forbes (11.9 ppg) ranks fifth in the nation in field-goal percentage (.669), and while no one else averages in double figures, six players put up between 7.8 and 9.7 ppg to add to the balanced attack.

While the Pioneers were able to hold South Dakota to just 59 points in their latest game, they could not take advantage when they had possession, shooting just 18-of-47 from the field (.383) and 11-of-17 from the free-throw line (.647) en route to the five-point road loss. Overcoming the struggles of most of his teammates was Brett Olson, who made 7-of-12 from the field (including 4-of-6 from long range) on his way to 22 points. Chris Udofia was less efficient from the floor (3-of-9) for his 10 points but helped pitch in elsewhere with six rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

Denver has experienced difficulty putting points on the board all season long, as it shoots only 43.1 percent from the field for 64.6 ppg, which all but spoils an impressive showing on the opposite end of the floor (64.1 ppg). Olson is the catalyst with 14.7 ppg, doing so on 34-of-86 from beyond the arc and 51-of-55 from the free-throw line. Udofia (12.6 ppg) is one of the most well-rounded players in the league with 5.9 rpg, 3.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg and 1.5 spg, while Jalen Love contributes 9.8 ppg but on less than 34 percent field goal shooting.

Despite owning the homecourt advantage in this matchup, Denver has not played up to its potential this season and will likely not have enough offensive firepower to keep pace with the surging Mastodons.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 70, Denver 65

01/16 11:15:20 ET

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