IUPUI falls to Milwaukee in Horizon League duel

Photo courtesy of IUPUI Athletics

The IUPUI Jaguars went the distance with Milwaukee Thursday in Indianapolis but ultimately fell 72-69 in a game that came down to the final possession. The Jags led at various points in both halves and never trailed by more than eight, but were unable to get over the hump against the Horizon League leading Panthers.

Vincent Brady II had a pretty good look at a 27-footer that would have tied it up as time expired but the shot caromed away harmlessly as the final horn sounded.

Sophomore Guard Jlynn Counter led the Jaguar offense with a game high 22 points, 18 of which came in the first half. Counter has scored at least 20 points in four of the last five games and six times 20 point performances this season. The Oklahoma City native also gathered 7 rebounds.

Freshman Guard DJ Jackson added 15 for IUPUI, his third double-digit outing in four contests. Jackson has been showing great court sense of late and really looks comfortable with what he is trying to do on the floor. Jackson also matched Counter’s team-leading 7 rebounds.

Graduate forward Chris Osten returned to the Jaguar line-up after missing the previous game due to injury. Osten contributed 5 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes of play.

The game was entertaining to watch and chippy at times. Milwaukee’s first-year head coach Bart Lundy has to be in the running for Horizon League Coach of the Year, and he appeared to have some encouraging words for IUPUI head coach Matt Crenshaw in the post-game hand shake.

The loss drops IUPUI to 3-21 overall and 0-13 in conference play. Milwaukee improves to 16-7 overall and 10-3 in the Horizon, which guarantees them a share of the lead after the completion of Thursday’s evening games.

IUPUI went toe to toe for a full 40 minutes with one of the top teams in the Horizon League. This Jaguar team is playing hard for Crenshaw and they appear to be on the verge of an imminent break-through. The Jaguars have great chance to do just that Saturday when the Green Bay Phoenix come to town. The tip-off is slated for noon at Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum.

The Jaguars are the favorite heading into this contest, an unfamiliar position for this group. IUPUI is ranked ahead of Green Bay in both the KenPom and Net rankings, and ESPN Analytics also give the Jags solid edge heading into Saturday’s showdown.

Green Bay won the December meeting in Wisconsin 68-61 but the two teams have since gone in different directions. While IUPUI has been in position to win in each of their last five games, the Phoenix have lost their last five by an average of 24 points. Phoenix head coach Will Ryan was fired on January 24th after going a combined 15-63 in just under three seasons. Green Bay was 2-19 this season at the time of Ryan’s firing.

This will be the Phoenix’s third game with interim head coach Freddie Owens at the helm.

The Jags would do well not to underestimate Green Bay, however. They have some players who can hurt you, they’ve had a week off to prepare, and they likely view this game as their best opportunity to get another win this season.

IUPUI has just three home games remaining this season so this is a great opportunity for Jag fans to pack the Coliseum and to see some exciting Horizon League Basketball.

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