FAIRBORN — IUPUI may eventually become competitive again in the Horizon League. The Indy-based school has a freshmen-laden team with some upside (if you look closely enough).
But it’s no match for the better teams in the HL — and hasn’t been for years.
After winning the previous 10 meetings by an average of nearly 20 points, Wright State raced to a 31-11 lead midway through the first half and coasted to a 103-71 victory before 3,267 fans Wednesday.
A.J. Braun reached his career high with 18 points in the first half. The 6-foot-9 sophomore, going primarily against a starting frontline with no one taller than 6-6, finished with 22, going 8 of 9 from the field and 6 of 7 on foul shots.
“My teammates were finding me today, and I was fortunate to get good looks,” Braun said.
Amari Davis, who hasn’t contributed much since losing his starting spot five games ago, had his most points in almost a month, tallying 15.
“That was the plan,” Davis said of the Raiders’ quick start. “We knew these guys are in a tough spot in the conference. We knew we had to set the tone early.”
All 11 players who dressed ultimately scored as the Raiders improved to 15-11 overall and have a winning record in the league for the first time at 8-7.
IUPUI, ranked 360 out of 363 teams in the NET ratings, is 4-22, 1-14.
“Coming off such an emotional week with the three overtimes (against Youngstown State) … normally, you take Sunday off, and Monday you get your feet back under you and get your emotions in check. And we didn’t have time for that because we played Wednesday,” coach Scott Nagy said.
“We played a team that obviously has won just one conference game, so I was very concerned it’d be a game where we’d be unprepared. We didn’t have good practices. But I thought the players did a great job tonight.”
Brandon Noel had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and star Trey Calvin had 11 points while barely playing half the game.
The “WE WANT NEFF’ student-section chants started with 10 minutes to go.
They were referring to career sub Andy Neff of Oakwood, who had appeared in just six games this year.
The problem was, the fifth-year senior was nowhere to be found.
“I don’t know if he had some food poisoning tonight, but his stomach was really bothering him,” coach Nagy said. “I thought, ‘They’re yelling for him, and he’s not even the bench.’”
After a visit to the locker room, he returned, and the crowd erupted when he pulled off his warmup at 4:12 and checked in.
They cheered even louder when he scored with 1:12 to go to put the team in triple digits.
The Raiders have won four of their last five games and will go into their showdown with Northern Kentucky on Senior Night with momentum.
They lost, 78-64, on the road to NKU on Dec. 29.
“They just whipped us. They absolutely whipped us,” Nagy said. “Our young kids were nervous. I don’t expect that Friday. We’ve had more games under our belt.
“Our inside kids really struggled. I was part of the problem, too. I was probably too negative and too frustrated. It hurt the bench. But we’ll be in a better spot.”
SAYING GOOD-BYE: Tim Finke will be honored on Senior Night, along with teammates C.J. Wilbourn and Neff.
Finke, a three-year starter, transferred after his freshman year at Grand Canyon. With nine rebounds last week against Robert Morris, he reached 505 for his career to become the 24th member of the Raider 500-rebound club.
NEW LINEUP: After appearing in 70 games over three years, 6-6 guard Andrew Welage made his first career start in place of Blake Sisley.
He had eight points and went 6 of 6 on foul shots. He’s averaged 9.2 points in his last seven games.
NKU at Wright State, 9 p.m., ESPNU, 980
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