With just 7:30 left to play in the first half, Miami (Ohio) guard Abdoulaye Marouna tied the game at 12-12.
The Jaguars struggled scoring early and had trouble in the first half getting the ball up the floor against Miami’s press during their second home game at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Coming into the game, the Jags were 0-5 against the RedHawks. It was unclear early on whether or not Darell Combs’ experience playing in the Mid-American Conference would help the Jags. By the end of Saturday afternoon’s 78-64 win over Miami, it was clear—it did.
“They’re well coached,” Combs said after the game. “The MAC is a really decent conference, that I come from, they’re not bad at all.”
Combs went 4-7 from three and finished with 20 points—14 of which came in the second half. Combs played a team-high 30 minutes and was a major factor in helping IUPUI beat Miami’s press.
“It’s just about being poised, you know, calm and relaxed,” Combs said smiling as Coach Jason Gardner walked into the press conference. “Plus, not turning the ball over.”
The Jaguars turned the ball over 14 times. In contrast, Miami had only eight turnovers. However, Miami came into the game averaging 18 opponent turnovers per game, making the Jags 14 much more respectable.
Most of the turnovers were caused by Miami’s pressure as IUPUI attempted to bring the ball up the floor. In the second half the Jags were able to break the press, leading to several easy lay-ins.
“At halftime we talked about how when you flash you have to flash to open air,” Coach Gardner said. “In the first-half I think we were just flashing behind guys and if he can’t see you, we can’t get it out.”
The Jaguars started the second half with a 11-2 run to take a 16-point lead. Matt O'Leary got it going with a three followed by a Combs three-pointer off of an Evan Hall assist. Miami rallied back with an 18-4 rally that cut the Jaguars lead to two.
“I mean, every team gets their run,” Combs said. “They made a pretty good run, we just had to learn from it and bounce back.”
Combs fired back with back-to-back scores and Aaron Brennan added a layup to keep a nine-point lead. Shortly after, the Jags captured a double-digit lead and held it through the end.
After the game, Coach Gardner mentioned the play of freshman T.J. Henderson, saying that he was particularly impressed with how poised Henderson was when Miami pressured him.
“I was very proud of the team as far as how we handled the pressure. From the different full court presses they threw at us, to their half-court-run-and-jump that they threw at us,” Coach Jason Gardner said. “I thought our guys flashed to open areas and we didn’t get panicked.”
Evan Hall finished the game 3-4 from the floor and 2-3 from the free-throw line. He also recorded seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block.
“I think Evan [Hall] did an unbelievable job on the glass,” Coach Gardner said. “He gave us some extra possessions and he had a big and-one for us.”
IUPUI’s Nick Osborne also had a solid performance. Osborne was 4-5 with nine points, nine rebounds, and a block in only 16 minutes. Marcellus Barksdale added 11 points, five rebounds and a block in the victory.
IUPUI will go on the road to play nationally ranked Purdue on Monday (Dec. 7) at Mackey Arena. The game, which will be televised on ESPNU, promises to be a big test for the Jaguars.
“It’s going to be tough,” Coach Gardner said. “They’re a good team, they’re big and we’re going to have to do a great job on the glass.”