Head coach: Tony Jasick (2nd year at IPFW) - 10-19 in 2nd year at IPFW, where he served as an assistant for seven seasons. Also coached at Middle Tennessee State. Followed former Indiana guard Dane Fife as head coach at IPFW after Fife took an assistant’s job with Tom Izzo at Michigan State.
You should know: That this is the fourth meeting between Notre Dame and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. The Irish won the first three, including a 92-49 victory in November of 2006?IPFW is a member of the nine-team Summit League. The Mastodons finished seventh last season and are projected for a fifth-place finish in 2012-13 by Athlon Sports?Five of IPFW’s players are from Indiana; six are from Florida?Seven of the 10 players who have participated for the Mastodons this season have more turnovers than assists. IPFW ranks 317th out of 345 Division I schools in assist-to-turnover ratio. The ‘Dons have turned it over 185 times with 115 assists?IPFW ranks 35th nationally in rebounds per game at 40.1. The ‘Dons are shooting .399 from the field, which ranks 287th?IPFW enters the game having lost three of its last four. The victory was a 57-56 conquest of Miami of Ohio. They never led in a 54-49 loss at Navy when they allowed 7-of-13 shooting from three-point range. They needed three overtimes to defeat Texas-Pan American, 97-93, when they shot just 5-of-26 from three-point range. The ‘Dons led Auburn 27-23 at halftime before losing by 11.
Top losses: Trey McCorkle (12.2 ppg., 5.1 rpg.), Jonny Marlin (4.3 ppg., 3.5 apg.)
Top players: Frank Gaines, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior, averaged 21.2 points per game in 2011-12, which was ninth best in the country. Through 11 games this season, he’s averaging 20.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He leads the team in three-pointers with 15, but is shooting just .306 from beyond the arc. Gaines scored 27 points in the Mastodons’ most recent game against Drake. He scored 32 in the season-opener against Auburn and 30 versus Texas-Pan American. His 1,409 points are the fourth most in IPFW history.
Fellow senior Demario Hines is scoring at a 9.0 pace while grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game, including a team-leading 32 on the offensive end. The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Hines scored the game-winning basket with two seconds left in the Dec. 1 victory over Miami of Ohio. Hines had 17 points and 13 rebounds against Texas-Pan American.
Five other players average between five and nine points per game for IPFW. Luis Jacobo is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He is second on the squad in three-pointers with 13, but has converted on just .310 of his attempts.
Isaiah McCray, a 6-foot-0 sophomore, scores at a 7.2 pace. Michael Kibiloski is a 6-foot-7, 245-pound junior who comes off the bench to average 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Kevin Harden, a 6-foot-2 junior, is the fifth starter with a 6.1 scoring average to go with 4.9 rebounds per game. He is second on the team in offensive rebounds with 21 and scored 22 points versus Eastern Illinois. Joe Edwards is a 6-foot-4 sophomore averaging 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
The Mastodons’ development has been slowed by the transfer of point guard Jonny Marlin to Indiana and the leg injury suffered by St. Louis transfer Justin Jordan.
Inside the Irish: Notre Dame is allowing 59.3 points per game, which is the best 10-game mark to open a season since 2004-05 when the first 10 Irish foes scored at a 56.2 clip. Opponents are shooting just .379 from the field and .319 from three-point range?The Irish are third nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.72. They’re also fourth in assists at 18.7 per game?Seven Irish players are averaging at least 7.9 points per game, led by Jack Cooley’s 14.6 average. Cooley is tied for ninth nationally with 11.1 rebounds per game?Notre Dame is 14th in the country in shooting percentage at .490. Cooley is tied for 16th at .600?Pat Connaughton scored a season-high 16 points in the 81-68 victory over Purdue Saturday at the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis?Eric Atkins has 40 assists and just three turnovers in the last five games. He’s also strung together five straight double-scoring performances and has three double-doubles (points and assists) this season. He scored a season-high 17 points against Purdue?Scott Martin has 981 career points heading into the IPFW game: 709 at Notre Dame and 272 at Purdue.
Prister’s take: It’s always interesting when a high-scoring player comes into your building, and IPFW’s 6-foot-3 senior Frank Gaines qualifies with a 20.0 scoring average. He’ll let it fly frequently against a defense that has been excellent at limiting the opposition’s percentage.
The Mastodons have been competitive against teams such as Auburn, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Illinois, Valparaiso and Drake, although all five of those resulted in losses. Their most notable victory to date is a one-point win over Miami of Ohio, which isn’t as impressive as it would have been a few years ago when the RedHawks were better.
Still, the ‘Dons rebound it well and have some depth with some junior college transfers making significant contributions. They haven’t played in nine days, so they should be refreshed for their fourth-ever meeting with the Irish.
But this is a poor shooting IPFW squad that does a very poor job of protecting the basketball and making passes that lead directly to scores. They rank 305th nationally in assists per game (10.5) while the Irish are fourth (18.7).
Not a ton of motivation for the Irish, who figure to plow through this week and take a long Christmas break with a 12-1 mark heading into Big East play on Jan. 5.
Pointspread: Notre Dame by 23
Prister’s Prediction: Notre Dame 78, IPFW 57
Prister’s record: 9-1 straight up; 6-2 vs. points