by Candis Cunningham
The Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Classic didn’t end so badly after all, but only because IUPUI (2-4) finally won against the Texas Southern, 74-55 Saturday night to end their time in the round robin style tournament.
After winning the season’s home opener, the Jags went on a three-game losing streak until Young finished with a season-high 30 points in the team’s first ever meeting with TSU. Things started off rough as the Jags went down 6-0 early in the first quarter until Stephen Thomas’ three sparked a 10-0 run. After a 28 all halftime score the Jags came back in the second half with a vengeance and at about nine minutes left solidified control of the game.
Young hit four consecutive free throws, two from his usual aggressive style taking the ball to the basket and two more came after hitting technical foul shots from TSU head coach Tony Harvey’s anger following a Mitchell Patton block. Although Young led the team in scoring, the show got started with stunning senior shooter Sean Esposito.
"I've been coming in the gym the past couple days, getting up extra shots before practice so I can get my mechanics down," Esposito said. "Known for shooting threes, you know you're going to get a lot of open looks, especially if you pass the ball like we did tonight."
Esposito said it best, “known for shooting threes”. The senior has been on the waiting list to show his skills and come to the rescue from behind the arc for the Jags as he hasn’t so far this season.
"We continued to move the ball and that's something we've emphasized, really all year, but especially over break," Howard said. "Last time we saw (a zone), I thought we played very well against Eastern Michigan. We just missed a lot of shots. Today we converted. We made the extra pass and guys were down and ready to make shots."
Esposito took the lead to 65-47 with three straight shots from the three point land to take the game to about six minutes. The zone defense was all the Jags needed as they shot the best against the zone they had all season at 46.6 percent overall and 42.3 percent from behind the arc. Guards Stephen Thomas, Ian Chilles and Lyonell Gaines led in assists; seven, five and three, respectively.
The team leader Young started and finished the deal shooting 10-of-18 which led to him scoring 30 or more points for the fourth time in his collegiate career.
"He's pressed a little bit. I think that's only natural," Howard said. "Some shots he's made his whole career just have rimmed out or just haven't finished. You can't prepare to play the game of basketball based on making shots. It's about other things - namely rebounding, passing and as a team; I thought we did a whale of a job on both of those accounts."
Unfortunately, the Jags can’t afford to have three game losing streaks before they snap out of slum shooting. Nor will future teams on the schedule allow easy shooting. Georgetown is next up on the list for the Jags as they head to D.C on Monday.