January 13, 2012

SPORTS: Men's Basketball Falls At Home To Southern Utah

by Candis Cunningham

"It was an extremely slow start and that doomed us from the get-go," Howard said. "Our older guys were not ready to play. That's been the theme all year. We can sugarcoat it, but that was inexcusable."

That’s the first time all year head coach Todd Howard has admitted aloud the struggles that have been the downfall to the IUPUI (8-11, 2-5 Summit) losing record.

The Jags shot just 40 percent from the floor and 3-of-15 (20 percent) from behind the arc as they lost their third straight game Thursday night to Southern Utah. The loss also cut the six-game home winning streak during the month of December. SUU won for the second straight year on IUPUI's home floor and claimed their sixth win all-time in Indianapolis. IUPUI fell to 8-4 at home this season and just 2-3 against Summit League foes.

The slow start started with an 8-0 SUU run and after only five minutes into the half, Coach Howard called his starting five aside to try to motivate some better play. Senior Alex Young brought one of the only IUPUI exciting moments of the night by scoring his 2,000th career point at the free throw line becoming the third in school history and 11th in Summit League history to score 2000 or more.

Upon the starters returning, AY’s free throws pulled the Jags within six and not long after sophomore Ian Chiles trey cut the deficit to three. The three point shortfall was the closest the Jags would get in the half. SUU closed the half up 37-30.

The Jaguars opened the second half amped up, scoring four sudden points with a Christian Siakam layup and a Lyonell Gaines slam in a fast break leading to an SUU head coach Roger Reid call timeout. The timeout made a difference as the T-Birds rapidly scored four points.

All wasn’t lost yet. The first lead of the night came at 12 minutes in the second half at 48-47 with and win looked well within reach. Mitchell Patton got things going with an offensive tip-in and jumper inside the paint. SUU responded to the one point deficit less than a minute later with their only three of the night from Damon Heuir. Southern Utah continued on a 7-0 run.

"We had chances, really in both halves to tie it or take leads," Howard said. "We'd have great execution and great effort, only to come up short at the free throw line. That was just an ingredient of the night - not being prepared to play.

"From a coach, that's really disappointing and I'll take responsibility."

The Jags came close, but could never quite but it all together. Young and Stephen Thomas scored in sequence to cut the SUU lead back to 52-51, but the T-Birds answered with four straight defensive holds until freshman Lyonell Gaines scored on a put back with 6:24 to play. Only down four, freshman Marcellus Barksdale went one-of-two from the line to make it a three-point game and Siakam missed the front end of a one-and-one that could've cut the lead back to one.

With under three minutes to play, AY picked up his fifth personal foul after he was called on a charge.  Jones connected on both free throws to erase Young's bucket and push it back to a two possession game. IUPUI never got closer than five.

IUPUI came in ranked fifth in the country in free throw shooting, but went only 13-of-20 in the loss. Young, Siakam and Thomas all finished with 10 points and Patton added nine off the bench. Gaines sustained his tough work on the glass, closing with eight points and nine boards.

"They answered the bell," Howard said. "It was a physical game and those two combined for 19 (points) and nine (rebounds), platooning. Really all year, that position is solidified. They've shot a high percentage, made shots, got to the line and rebounded.

"They did their part."

IUPUI plays their last home game in January on Saturday against Oral Roberts at 7 p.m. 

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