There’s just something about the IUPUI Jaguars.
With Green Bay coming off a near upset of league favorite Wright State as well as impressive victories over Northern Kentucky (on the road) and UIC (at home) to start the conference slate, it seemed like the Phoenix had made a statement that they’d be a factor in the Horizon League title race.
But the Jaguars put a pause on that in a major way Sunday afternoon at the Resch Center winning in dominating fashion, 93-78, to earn their first conference victory of the season and win their 6th in a row against the Phoenix. Green Bay has not beaten IUPUI (0-5) since the Jaguars joined the conference in 2017.
IUPUI scored the game’s first points and never trailed in the game, eventually opening up an 18-point first half lead before settling for a 15-point margin at halftime. The Jaguars shot 54.5% from the floor in the first half and drained 8 three pointers, many of which were uncontested looks.
“It wasn’t good from the jump, our energy level wasn’t there from the beginning,” assistant coach Ben Swank told Brian Kuklinski on WDUZ radio after the game. “You could tell some guys weren’t locked in, weren’t executing what we wanted to get done in the game plan. Combine that with a little lack of energy and that’s the result you’re going to get.”
IUPUI eventually built up a 25-point lead in the second half leading 88-63 with 5:04 left before Green Bay went on a little 13-1 run to cut the lead to 13. But it was too little too late and the Jaguars, who had the lead with 3 minutes left in each of their previous three conference games yet came up empty in all three, earned their first conference victory.
The Phoenix, who were a 10.5 point favorite before the game according to Vegas oddsmakers, were led by an 18 point, 10 rebound performance from PJ Pipes as well as 12 points each from Manny Patterson and Josh McNair and 10 points from Amari Davis.
IUPUI was led by Jaylen Minnett’s career high 31 points and 27 points from Marcus Burk as well as 13 points from Grant Weatherford and a 13 point, 17 rebound performance from Elyjah Goss.
“We didn’t want two guys (Minnett and Burk) to really get a lot of touches and it was way too easy for them to get the ball,” Swank said. “We didn’t deny them very well obviously and then let them get going early and it’s really hard to stop them once they get going.”
The Jaguars finished the game shooting 48.4% from the floor and 50.0% from beyond the arc, knocking down a season high 14 three pointers. Minnett alone accounted for 6 threes, chipping in 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal to go along with his 31 points. He played all 40 minutes of the game.
“It helps if you can get him to miss early,” Swank said. “A lot of those shots that he takes people might think they’re bad shots but we showed our guys clip after clip of him hitting those on other teams. If we could’ve gotten him to miss early it definitely would’ve helped out, maybe drop his confidence level a little bit. But he hit them early and they were just a little bit too easy and that’s a mistake on our part.”
The defeat was Green Bay’s third double digit home loss of the season – they lost 99-81 to Colgate at the Kress Center in November and 72-62 to Evansville at the Resch Center on December 14th – and ranks as the largest margin of defeat at the Resch since a 111-95 loss to Oakland back in January of 2016.
The Phoenix (7-10, 2-2 Horizon League) will look to get back on track Saturday night as rival Milwaukee comes to town for a 6:00 PM tip off at the Resch Center. The Panthers (7-9, 2-2) have some momentum after ending a seven game losing streak with weekend with a sweep of IUPUI and UIC at the UWM Panther Arena, including a buzzer beater victory over UIC on Sunday afternoon.
Green Bay swept Milwaukee last season and is 7-2 against the Panthers in the Linc Darner era.
“Milwaukee’s a very good team, very talented,” Swank said. “It will be a huge challenge for us. Hopefully the lack of our performance tonight will help motivate our guys going into next week.”
“Obviously being a rival game and a big game we’ll have to step up and play much, much better than we did today.”
Categories: Game Recap