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JAGS TO TAKE ON FORT WAYNE IN SUMMIT QUARTERFINALS

March 8, 2014
HOOSIER SPORTS 365



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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The IUPUI basketball team will get a third and final crack at in-state foe Fort Wayne on Saturday (Mar. 7) night as the Jaguars will face the No. 2 seeded Mastodons in the quarterfinals round of The Summit League Tournament inside Sioux Falls Arena. At this point, Saturday's game is all that matters as the seven-team field is fighting for the league's automatic berth to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Saturday's winner will advance to the semifinals round on Monday (Mar. 9) night and take on the winner of No. 3 South Dakota State/No. 6 Western Illinois. 

IUPUI (6-25) comes in having lost four straight, capped by a 75-70 defeat at Western Illinois to cap the regular season, despite a game-high 27 points from junior guard Ian Chiles. IUPUI trailed by three with under 10 seconds to play, but WIU opted to foul Marcellus Barksdale, eventually leading to a pair of IUPUI misses at the foul line. Chiles hit 4-of-5 from three-point range and 9-of-18 overall in the loss, and both Khufu Najee and Elijah Ray scored 14 each in the loss. WIU senior Michael Ochereobia led the Leathernecks with 23 points and 10 boards. 

Najee was the lone Jaguar to collect any postseason awards from The Summit League voting, earning a spot on the league's All-Newcomer Team (full release). Chiles, the team's top scorer during the regular season at 15.9 points per game, missed exactly half of the league slate and wasn't considered for postseason honors. Senior center Mitch Patton closed the regular season averaging 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while blocking a team-high 32 shots. The 6-foot-9 lefty recently moved into the program's top five all-time in blocked shots. 

Najee was the third Jaguar to average double-digits, finishing the year at 10.1 points per game, while sophomore guard Marcellus Barksdale led the Jaguars in rebounding (6.7 rpg), assists (114), steals (35), free throws made (103) and minutes played (33.5 mpg). Ray, a redshirt freshman, has provided added depth over the past month, averaging 7.4 points and 3.5 boards per game in league play. 

IUPUI is 10-3 (.769) all-time in the quarterfinals round of The Summit League Tournament and 3-5 (.375) all-time inside Sioux Falls Arena. Saturday's game will be the first-time IUPUI and IPFW have clashed in postseason play. 

Fort Wayne (22-9) closed the regular season strong, winning three straight road games. They capped the year with a 96-95 overtime win at Omaha on Mar. 1 to capture the No. 2 seed. Senior Luis Jacobo was named First Team All-Summit and averaged 14.9 points and 4.4 boards per game, while hitting 40.6 percent of his three-point attempts this season. Junior big man Steve Forbes (12.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 63.8 FG%) was voted Second Team All-Summit and was voted to the league's All-Newcomer Team, along with freshman guard Mo Evans (9.6 ppg, 53 3's). Evans, who came off the bench in all 31 games this season, was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year.

Collectively, IPFW was dominating from three-point range, hitting 8.0 treys per game at a 39.5 percent clip this season. Jacobo hit a team-high 65 treys and six different 'Dons hit at least 20 triples. 

IPFW handled the Jaguars during the regular season, winning 90-75 in Fort Wayne on Jan. 25 and 84-60 in Indianapolis on Feb. 22. IUPUI leads the all-time series 25-14, but the Mastodons have won three straight over the Jaguars. In the two games combined, the 'Dons hit 18-of-36 (50 percent) from three-point range. Najee averaged 15.5 points per game in the two regular season meetings against IPFW and Barksdale pumped in 13.0 points per in the two defeats. Patton scored 27 points in the two games combined and hit 11-of-20 field goal attempts. 


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