Purdue Fort Wayne is on a five-game winning streak and is now 3-0 in the Summit League. The last time the Mastodons started 3-0 in league play they were regular season league co-champions with South Dakota State in 2015-16.
This looks like a completely new team than the one that got routed 95-68 by Austin Peay on Dec. 15.
During this five-game winning streak, one major aspect has changed for PFW (11-7, 3-0). The team's making tough plays. They're getting 50-50 balls. They're not getting down early and making comebacks impossible.
In the 104-88 win over South Dakota State on Thursday night, Mastodns coach Jon Coffman said they had sometimes played a little too defensive against Mike Daum and company. They didn't this time around. Instead, they came out attacking.
"We just pumped an aggressive game plan to our guys on the defensive end," Coffman said. "I was a touch worried it might lead to foul trouble, but they didn't and I told our guys at halftime I thought we had five (players) playing as one on the court."
What he's saying makes sense. The first 10 game of the season it looked like John Konchar and Kason Harrell vs. everybody. But now players have found their roles, are making better decisions and playing physical.
"The key was just toughness," Harrell said after the win. "We came out with winning plays."
That they did. And those winning plays have put them atop the Summit League. It's a wide open conference where the Mastodons could be 3-4 in just a few weeks, but right now, PFW is the hunted.