MEN'S BASKETBALL UPSETS #12/14 ILLINOIS, 57-54
Dec. 18, 2010
CHICAGO - Senior guard Robo Kreps scored a team-high 15 points, and was joined in double figures by senior forward Paul Carter (12) and junior guard Zavion Neely (11), as the UIC men's basketball team (5-7) jumped out to an early lead, then erased a late-game deficit to upset No. 12/14 Illinois (10-2), 57-54 at the United Center Saturday.
The victory marked UIC's first over the Fighting Illini since the 1990-91 season, and tied for the Flames' biggest win over a ranked opponent in the program's history - UIC defeated No. 12 Butler (73-67 in overtime) at the UIC Pavilion on Jan. 10, 2007.
Kreps' 15 points came on four three-point field goals, including three in the first half. Carter was 4-of-8 from the field, bolstered by a key three-pointer with just under three minutes remaining that tied the game. Neely's four field goals included two three-pointers - he also dished out a team-high four assists.
Senior guard Demetri McCamey scored 16 points to pace Illinois - sophomore D.J. Richardson also chipped in 13 points. The Flames held the Fighting Illini to just a 32.7 percent shooting effort, UIC's fourth-straight opponent to shoot less than 40 percent from the field. Illinois was just 9-for-29 (.300) in the second half.
UIC came out firing, building an 11-2 lead just 3:20 into the game - Kreps had two early threes in the stretch. The Flames stretched their lead to a game-high ten points (18-8) at the 10:53 mark after senior center K.C. Robbins converted his second-consecutive field goal. The Fighting Illini answered with a 15-6 run, pulling with 24-23 after a driving layup by Richardson (3:43).
Neely answered with a field goal on the other end, pushing the lead back to three, 26-23. But three-straight free throws by Illinois tied the game at 26-26. UIC senior forward Brad Birton scored inside with just nine seconds remaining in the half to push the score to 28-26, but Richardson hit two free throws with just two seconds left to knot the score (28-28) heading into the locker room at halftime. Carter committed the foul, his third of the game, after being entered back into the lineup with 31 seconds remaining.
Carter began the second half on the bench, but UIC was still the aggressor, going on a 10-2 spree to begin the frame. Neely had two field goals in the stretch, including a conventional three-point play, while junior center Darrin Williams converted his second field goal, tipping in a Neely miss.
Illinois again fought back, taking their first lead of the game (43-41) after a three-pointer by Richardson. The Flames didn't score for the ensuing 4:08, as the Illini went up by eight, 49-41, with 7:30 remaining. Kreps' fourth three of the game came with 5:35 remaining, pulling the Flames back within two possessions, 49-44.
The Fighting Illini's Bill Cole scored on a deep jumper from the corner on the other end, giving Illinois a 51-44 lead. But UIC scored the ensuing seven points of the game to the game at 51-51 with 2:51 remaining. The spurt was capped off by gutsy three-pointer by Carter. After Kreps corralled a long rebound, Carter was open from the wing - he then drilled the three with a hand in his face, forcing the Illini into a timeout with 2:22 left.
McCamey split two free throws on the ensuing possession, putting the Fighting Illini back in front (52-51) with 2:18 remaining. On UIC's next possession, Kreps missed a pull-up three-pointer, but Williams corralled the offensive rebound, went up strong and was fouled. He hit both free throws to give the Flames a one-point (53-52) lead with 1:10 left.
McCamey was again fouled, on the other end, and hit both ensuing freebies, as Illinois re-claimed a 54-53 advantage. Kreps drove the lane on UIC's next possession, but his left-handed lay-up was too strong - Williams again fought for the carom, tipped the ball in, and pushed UIC back in front (55-54) with just 23 seconds left.
Illinois had a chance to take the lead on its ensuing possession, but Richardson's three-pointer bounced off the back of the rim. Jereme Richmond corralled the rebound, and kicked the ball out to McCamey - his potential game-winner with five seconds remaining was also too strong, and sailed out of bounce.
Williams and Kreps each hit one free throw down the stretch, preserving the three-point win. Illinois had two turnovers in the final two seconds, eliminating any chance for a potential game-tying three-pointer.
UIC will travel to Corvalis, Ore., to take on Oregon State next Wednesday (Dec. 22). Tip-off from the Legendary Gill Coliseum is set for 9 p.m. CST.