by Candis Cunningham
Saturday night the Summit League preseason player of the year Alex Young did his thing.
To translate, he had the best night of his career with 43 points to give IUPUI (3-8) a victory at home over Western Kentucky 84-76 after a four game losing streak.
Young started his engine midway through the first half as he scored six points in an 11-0 run taking the score to 24-16. Ian Chiles hit a trey and a jumper that taking the score 27-18 shortly before the half. WKU (4-7) scored six points quickly, but Young shut them down from behind the arc and an athletic lay in over defenders. Jags closed the half 34-25.
"Pretty much everything was working," Young said. "Everything I put up tonight, I felt like it was in rhythm and it wasn't forced. I'm really at my best when I get in rhythm and get good shots. I was really glad that shots dropped.
Coach Todd Howard was excited and gave much credit to Young’s performance, but his teammates as well.
"I know it's coming together for him," said Howard about Young. "He was always the recipient. He wasn't the initiator. Steph just did a whale of a job and I thought Ian Chiles was phenomenal."
Classmate Stephen Thomas was Young’s right hand man. The two combined for sixteen straight points for IUPUI in the second half. At the beginning of the half, WKU sliced the deficit to only one, 40-39. The teams’ rallied on the next couple of possessions until the Jags powered up a 15-2 run giving them a 15 point lead. Thomas and Young were successful on a total of 23-of-25 buckets. Thomas scored 13 points and six assists.
Freshman Lyonell Gaines scored the first two second half shots and finished with five crucial points and five boards.
The runs in both halves were because the Jags tightened up on defense.
"We really challenged them defensively and on the glass," Howard said. "In the first half, we really met all of our goals of holding them under 30 and wanted them under 39 percent from the floor. I know our defensive intensity was through the roof.”
The Jags grabbed eight steals and held WKU’s leading scorer to just 3-of-10 from the floor. Fifteen turnovers were caused and the extra possessions added 20 points for IUPUI.
Young had a steal that he ended on a fast break with a slam. His slam left about three minutes on the clock. Young’s dunk was the only thing left to help keep the Jags motivated a fight above the close rally WKU produced.
IUPUI finished shooting 45 percent from the field and 78.4 percent at the free throw line. The Jags truly clicked on all cylinders.
"This feels good to get back in the winning column," Young said. "It just feels good to get a win."
The Jags hope to keep winning as they take on their second and last non-D1 opponent St. Joseph's of Indiana on Friday night.