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Up next for IPFW: Today at Western Illinois

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tom101010.

Mastodons' need to keep winning to stay near top of league

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 2:53 am

Up next for IPFW: Western Illinois

When: 8 tonight

Where: Waste Management Court, Macomb, Ill.

Radio: 1380-AM

Records: IPFW 20-9 (8-4 Summit League), Western Illinois (9-18, 3-9)

Expected starters for IPFW: Pierre Bland – 6-2 senior guard; Isaiah McCray – 6-0 junior guard; Luis Jacobo – 6-5 senior forward; Michael Kibiloski – 6-7 senior forward; Steve Forbes – 6-9 junior center.

IPFW update: The Mastodons can't afford a loss if they have any hopes of securing the second seed in next month's Summit League Tournament. IPFW is tied for second with South Dakota State and Denver; all three teams are two games behind league-leading North Dakota State (10-4). The above starting lineup is unbeaten in six games this season, but the Mastodons have not won in Macomb in more than three years (Feb. 5, 2011). IPFW's 77-64 victory over the Leathernecks at the Gates Sports Center earlier this month snapped a four-game losing streak to Western Illinois. IPFW is coming off a blowout victory over IUPUI (84-60) last Saturday. The win was the program's 20th of the season, which set a program mark at the NCAA Division I level. However, the win was just IPFW's second in its last five games. The Mastodons are 143rd in the latest RPI rankings, which is the third-best rating in program history. The 20 wins place the Mastodons just one behind Indiana State (21-7) for the most wins of any Division I team in this state this season. After a 7-1 January record (best in program history), the Mastodons have struggled to a 3-3 mark this month. Senior forward Jacobo paces IPFW offensively with a 14.6 per game scoring average, while Forbes (12.1) and freshman guard Mo Evans (10 points per game) are also productive. Evans has scored the ninth-most points by a IPFW freshman ever. Western Illinois has dropped six consecutive games. IPFW crushed the Leathernecks 32-19 (12-3 offensively) in rebounding in its earlier win.

IPFW coach Tony Jasick: “Western Illinois sets multiple ball screens every possession. They do a really good job of that and the other thing that they do is spread you out. They have a really effective post player (Michael Ochereobia) and they surround him with (Garret Covington) is a really good player. He's probably going to be an All-Summit League guy. They have shooters that they spread the floor with as well. They challenge you defensively. I think (Western Illinois) is really, really well coached. (Jim Molinari) has a young team that has continued to get better. They've been in every single game. It's just a matter of time to where they can turn it into winning games. There is no doubt in my mind that they are scary.”