Head coach Howard Moore will be a guest on Comcast SportsNet's "Chicago Tribune Live" at 5:53 p.m. Thursday live from the UIC Pavilion! After catching Moore's pre-game segment, head down to the Pavilion to see the Flames take on Valpo in the Horizon League opener. If you can't make it to the game, catch the telecast on Comcast SportsNet at 7 p.m. Former UIC radio play-by-play man Dave Wills and Comcast SportsNet's Dave Kaplan will have the call.
On the airwaves, the pivotal contest can be heard live on WMVP-AM (ESPN Radio 1000), with Adam Levinson and former Flames standout Kenny Williams calling the action.
In the fourth installment of the RCN Cable "Howard Moore Podcast," Adam Levinson and the first-year head coach recap last week's non-conference split, and look ahead to Horizon League play and the legacy of Walter Payton.
FLAMES HOST VALPO IN HORIZON LEAGUE OPENER
Posted Tuesday, November 30 at 1:28 p.m.
The UIC men's basketball team will take a break from non-conference action by hosting Valparaiso in the Horizon League opener at the UIC Pavilion Thursday night beginning at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet, with Dave Wills (play-by-play) and Dave Kaplan (color) anchoring the telecast. Adam Levinson and Kenny Williams will also have the call on WMVP-AM (ESPN Radio 1000).
Below are some notables surrounding the game...
SCOUTING THE FLAMES UIC is off to a 4-3 start, and is 2-1 inside the confines of the UIC Pavilion. The Flames, who are in the middle of a four-game homestand, are coming off last Sunday's thrilling 63-62 win over visiting Toledo.
Senior guard Robo Kreps is leading the Flames offensively, scoring 123 points (17.6 ppg) just seven games into the season -- he has also dished out a team-high 27 assists in his first full season running the point. Senior forward Paul Carter, in his first season in a UIC uniform, is averaging 15.1 points per game, while also leading the Flames in rebounding with 8.1 caroms per contest, third-best in the Horizon League. Kreps currently ranks second in the conference in scoring, while Carter ranks ninth.
Junior guard Zavion Neely, who scored 12.2 points per game as a sophomore last season, is averaging 10.3 points per contest. Kreps (.494), Carter (.415) and senior Brad Birton (.423) all are shooting better than 40 percent from the field.
UIC is averaging 65.7 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 67.4 points per contest. The Flames are out-rebounding their opponents by nearly a three-carom margin (+2.6), and are averaging 5.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, respectively.
SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS Valparaiso is 4-2 on the season, including an 0-2 mark in true road games. The Crusaders are coming off a 68-62 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (11/27/10), capturing the Upper Division Championship at the 2010 Las Vegas Invitational.
Valpo, which was picked fourth in the preseason Horizon League poll, boasts three players that are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Cory Johnson's 14.6 points per game. Ryan Broekhoff is scoring 13.7 points per contest, while Brandon Wood has contributed 12.5 points per outing. Wood was a preseason first-team All-Horizon League pick, and Johnson earned second-team preseason honors.
The Crusaders lead the Horizon League in scoring offense (78.7 ppg), field goal percentage (.476) and assists per game (17.3). Defensively, Valpo ranks second in defensive field goal percentage (.395). The Crusaders are also the second-best free throw shooting team in the league, at 73.1 percent.
BREAKING DOWN THE TOLEDO GAME There were a combined 14 ties and lead changes in the game, with UIC holding its largest lead of seven (46-39) with 12:23 remaining in the game ... The Flames out-rebounded the Rockets 37-20, and scored 12 second-chance points ... UIC tallied 17 assists, and committed only 12 turnovers ... Senior forward Paul Carter (11) scored in double figures for the sixth-consecutive game, and turned in his second double-double of the season with a season-high 14 rebounds to go along with a career-high six assists ... Eight of the 10 players that saw action for UIC pulled down at least one rebound ... Junior forward Paris Carter tied his career-best with eight points while playing a season-high 26 minutes ... Junior guard Zavion Neely scored a season-high 22 points to lead UIC in scoring for the first time this season -- that output came on a career-high three three-point field goals ... The win marked UIC's second win over Toledo in nine days, and stretched its winning streak over UT to five games, dating back to the 2007-08 season.
QUOTING Robo Kreps ON THE IMPACT OF Zavion Neely: "Z stepped up today. We've been waiting for him; he's got that in him. I saw it all last year when he was a solid scorer for us. It took awhile, but he's back. He's been scoring a lot in practice; we've just been waiting for him to do it in games."
THE SERIES UIC owns a decisive 29-11 all-time series lead over Valparaiso, with the first meeting between the Flames and Crusaders taking place in the 1979-80 season. Valpo won both meetings last season by a total of seven points. Between the 1983-84 and 1995-96 campaigns, UIC compiled a 22-4 record against the Crusaders.
HONORING A WINDY CITY LEGEND For Thursday's Horizon League opener against Valpo, the UIC athletic department will work in conjunction with the University of Illinois Medical Center and the Walter Payton Liver Center to honor the late Walter Payton and his family.
$4 from every ticket purchased will go toward finding a cure for Liver cancer at the Walter Payton Liver Center. Commemorative Walter Payton headbands will be sold for $5. All proceeds from the sale of the headbands will directly benefit the Walter Payton Liver Center.
The Payton family will "Light the Flame" at the UIC Pavilion prior to the game and Connie Payton will make a halftime presentation.
GIVING THANKS With its win over Toledo on Sunday, UIC secured its fourth win during the month of November, the most for a UIC team in the opening month of the season since the 2003-04 campaign, when the Flames went 5-1 in November. That team finished the season with a 24-8 record (12-4 Horizon) and made UIC's last NCAA Tournament appearance.
OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY, REBOUNDING HELPING FLAMES It sounds simple, but when the Flames shoot the ball better than their opponent, they are at their best. UIC is 4-0 on the season when shooting a better percentage than the opposition, and 3-0 when out-rebounding the other team.
DISHING IT OUT BIG MAN STYLE UIC has 102 assists on its 170 field goals this season, an average of 14.6 helpers per game. While senior guard Robo Kreps has carried the load with a team-high 27 assists, he has also had a little help from his friends that spend the majority of their time in the frontcourt. Senior forwards Brad Birton and Paul Carter have each tallied 16 assists, combining for nearly 32 percent of UIC's assist total on the year.
`Z' BREAKING FREE Junior guard Zavion Neely, who has been called upon to be a lock-down perimeter defender early on this season, has shown flashes of his offensive ability that produced 12.2 points per game last season, one of the top-20 marks in the Horizon League. Last Sunday against Toledo, Neely scored a season-high 22 points, including a career-best three three-point field goals. Just four days earlier, against Central Michigan, Neely dished out a season-high four assists and tied his career-high with five rebounds.
SOLID DEBUT First-year head coach Howard Moore guided UIC to a 4-3 record through its first seven games and in doing so, secured the best seven-game start for a first-year Flames mentor since Willie Little (1983-87) coached the 1983-84 team to a 5-2 start. Little took over a team that won 16 games the year before (1982-83).
CLIMBING THE CHARTS Senior guard Robo Kreps enters Thursday's game against Valparaiso with 1,228 points, which ranks 14th on the all-time scoring list at UIC. The preseason Horizon League second-team honoree needs just three points to tie Nate Chambers (1984-88) for 13th, and is just five points away from equaling Armond Williams' (2001-05) career scoring output (1,233), which ranks 12th all time. Kreps, last week's Horizon League Player of the Week, has recorded 60 double-digit scoring efforts over the past three seasons, while scoring 20 or more points 18 times.
UIC ATHLETICS TO HONOR PAYTON FAMILY THURSDAY
Posted Tuesday, November 30 at 1:06 p.m.
The UIC athletic department will work in conjunction with the University of Illinois Medical Center and the Walter Payton Liver Center to honor the late Walter Payton and his family on Dec. 2, when the Flames men's basketball team hosts Valparaiso at the UIC Pavilion.
FLAMES DEFEAT TOLEDO IN THRILLER
Posted Sunday, November 28 at 9:44 p.m.
Senior guard Robo Kreps drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key with just nine seconds remaining, lifting the UIC men's basketball team to a thrilling 63-62 win over visiting Toledo at the UIC Pavilion Sunday afternoon.