Jaguars split two in final week of Horizon League play

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IUPUI closed out regular season Horizon League play by splitting a pair of home games last week. The Jaguars surprised Robert Morris 81-75 Thursday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum and then dropped a hard-fought contest to Youngstown State 93-79 Sunday at the Jungle.

The Jags shot 50 percent from the floor verses RMU, including 5-of-12 from three-point range. They also connected on 22 of 28 free throws (.786).

Freshman guard DJ Jackson led IUPUI with a career-high 24 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. It was Jackson’s second 20-point outburst in three games.

Sophomore guard Jlynn Counter added 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, while Freshman guard Vincent Brady II chipped in with 12 points and 7 rebounds.

The victory was IUPUI’s second conference win of the season and moved them into a tie in the standings with Green Bay. Robert Morris (15-16, 10-10) is also the highest rated team the Jaguars have beaten according to Kenpom (229) and NET (242) rankings.

The Jaguars closed out the regular season by dropping one to Youngstown State. The Jags took a 39-38 lead into the locker room at halftime and led 49-47 at the 15:58 mark in the second half, but YSU hit its next eight shots from there to build a 67-51 lead. That 18-4 run proved to be decisive in the final outcome.

The Jags again shot over 50 percent from the field (.544) and only turned the ball over 12 times – well under their season average – but the Penguins shot 58 percent including 8 of 18 from deep.

Counter had 20 points and 4 assists for the Jaguars. The game was Counter’s eighth 20-point performance of the season. DJ Jackson had 15 points, marking the seventh time the sophomore has been in double-figures this year.

IUPUI (5-26, 2-18) will be the 11 seed going into the Horizon League Tournament this week. Green Bay gets the tie-breaker and the 10 seed according to the Horizon procedure.

The Jags and the Phoenix split their two head-to-head games, but Green Bay’s other conference victory came against rival Milwaukee (20-10, 14-6), who finished higher in the final conference standings (2nd) than Robert Morris (6th).

IUPUI will face Robert Morris again tomorrow night in Greater Pittsburgh. It’s win or go home for the Jaguars as a loss will end the 2022-23 season.

The Jaguars are 2-2 against the Colonials since last season so it won’t be an impossible task. If the Jags take care of the basketball, continue to shoot well, and limit Enoch Cheeks and Khaliel Spear, they will have more than a puncher’s chance.

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