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    Jan. 28, 2011

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    Youngstown State Basketball   Horizon League Basketball   Flame Throwers

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    UIC is 5-16 (0-9 Horizon) on the season, including a 2-6 record at the UIC Pavilion. The Flames are coming off a 63-49 home loss versus Cleveland State Thursday night.

    Senior guard Robo Kreps is leading the Flames offensively, scoring 15.0 points per game -- he has also dished out a team-high 64 assists. Minnesota transfer, senior forward Paul Carter is averaging 14.1 points per game, while also leading the Flames in rebounding with 8.2 caroms per contest, second-best in the Horizon League. Kreps currently ranks seventh in the conference in scoring, while Carter is 11th.

    In Horizon League play, Carter ranks 10th in the conference in scoring (13.7 ppg) and second in rebounding, at 8.4 caroms per game. He is averaging 6.2 defensive rebounds per contest in UIC's nine Horizon League games.

    UIC is averaging 62.0 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 68.8 points per contest. In Horizon League play, UIC leads the conference in offensive rebounds (13.2 rpg), while ranking third in overall rebounding margin (+3.8).

    In home games, the Flames are limiting their opponents to just 63.2 points per contest, and convincingly out-rebounding the opposition, 39.1-29.8 rpg.

    Youngstown State is 7-13 (1-9 Horizon) on the season, 0-9 on the road, and has lost four-straight games. The Penguins are coming off an 84-71 loss at Loyola Thursday night.

    Vytas Sulskis has been the offensive catalyst for Youngstown State, scoring 13.3 points per game. Devonte Maymon is averaging 9.6 points per outing, while Damian Eargle (9.2) and Ashen Ward (8.4) are all contributing more than eight points per game.

    In Horizon League play, the Penguins lead the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.1), and rank second in the conference in three-point field goals made per game (7.4). Blake Allen (3.0 apg) and Kendrick Perry (2.9) both rank in the top-10 of the Horizon League in assists per game during conference play.

    Eargle leads the Horizon League in blocks per game (3.4), while Devonte Maymon (.444) and Allen (.442) are both shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range.

    The UIC men's basketball team placed four players in double figures, but Youngstown State's Ashen Ward poured in a career-high 26 points on seven three-pointers, and the Penguins erased a last-minute deficit to record a 71-69 win over the Flames at the Beeghly Center on Dec. 30.

    Senior forward Paul Carter's 19 points and six rebounds led UIC - he was joined in double figures by Darrin Williams (13), Robo Kreps (13) and Brad Birton (10). Ward converted nine field goals overall, and saw both Vytas Sulskis and DuShawn Brooks score 11 points apiece for Youngstown State.

    The Flames out-scored the Penguins 30-14 in the paint, and held a 29-27 rebounding advantage. But Youngstown State scored 15 points off UIC's 13 turnovers, and corralled nine offensive rebounds, including four from Tre Brewer.

    After the final media timeout (2:28), Carter was fouled from three-point range, converted all three free throws, and gave the Flames a 67-65 lead with 1:55 remaining. Sulskis answered with a lay-up on the other end, tying the game at 67-67 with 1:33 left.

    After Ward split two free throws, the Penguins took a 68-67 lead with 45 seconds left. But Carter again came up big, drilling a deep two-point shot from the left side to give the lead back to UIC, 69-68, with 29 seconds remaining.

    After calling a timeout, the Penguins went back to Sulskis, who drove the lane and was fouled by Birton. He drilled two free throws to push the YSU lead to 70-69. The Flames did not score again, falling by the two-point margin.

    UIC holds a decisive 20-6 all-time series lead against Youngstown State, but the Penguins have won four-of the last six in the rivalry. The Flames and YSU first went head-to-head during the 1992-93 season, with UIC claiming an 89-71 win. UIC dominated the series early, winning the first 16 meetings -- the Penguins' first win over the Flames didn't take place until the 2006-07 campaign.

    Senior forward Brad Birton recorded his first double-double of the season with a career-high 14 points and 10 rebounds ... Robo Kreps added 10 points, all in the first half, for his 16th double-digit scoring output of the season ... Sophomore guard Corey Gray made his first-career start, scoring four points, dishing out four assists against just two turnovers, and swiping a career-high two steals in 35 minutes ... UIC built as large as a nine-point lead (21-12) in the first half (8:18), and led 31-29 at halftime; it marked the Flames' first halftime advantage since Jan. 8 against Detroit ... The Flames recorded a 35-32 advantage on the boards, including 11 offensive rebounds ... UIC led for all but one possession in the first 25:30 ... Norris Cole gave Cleveland State a 41-39 lead with 14:08 remaining that it would not relinquish ... The Flames were just 1-for-8 from three-point range, while Cleveland State was 8-of-19 ... UIC out-scored the Vikings 26-22 in the paint, but were out-scored off turnovers (24-11) and through the bench (18-9) ... The Flames also held a scoring advantage in second-chance points (10-4).

    Senior forward Paul Carter leads the Flames with eight double-doubles on the season, including five in Horizon League play ... Carter has tallied double dips against the College of Charleston (11/20/10), Toledo (11/28/10), Illinois State (12/11/10), Cleveland State (1/1/11), Wright State (1/6/11), Detroit (1/8/11), Green Bay (1/15/11) and Loyola (1/22/11).

    THE CHASE FOR 1,500
    As mentioned, senior guard Robo Kreps passed the 1,400 career-point plateau at Loyola last Saturday, scoring a game-high 19 points. He enters Saturday's game with 1,421 career points, just 37 tallies short of moving into a tie for ninth-place all-time alongside Mark Miller (1995-98). With 79 more points, Kreps would also become the ninth player in program history to score 1,500 or more points.

    Senior forward Brad Birton, who is averaging 5.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in his 20 games played this season, has seen his production nearly double since the outset of the Horizon League schedule. In conference play, Birton has posted all five of his double-digit scoring outputs, and three-of his top-six rebounding efforts. Overall, Birton is averaging 8.8 points on a near 60 percent (.558) effort from the field in Horizon League games.

    UIC enters Saturday's contest as the Horizon League's top offensive rebounding team (in conference games), averaging 13.2 offensive boards per game. It has been a collective effort on the glass, with Brad Birton (3.0 rpg; t-3rd), Paris Carter (2.3 rpg; 8th) and Paul Carter (2.2 rpg; 9th) all ranking in the top-10 of the league in offensive rebounds during Horizon League play.

    As mentioned, UIC has out-rebounded 14-of its 21 opponents this season, including nine-of the last 10, and eight-of-nine Horizon League foes.

    Senior forward Paul Carter has been the overwhelming catalyst for the Flames' success on the boards this season. The Horizon League's second-leading rebounder (8.2 rpg), Carter has led the Flames in rebounding 12 times, and also grabbed nine or more caroms on 11 occasions.

    UIC's improved defensive effort has had a direct result on its won-loss fate as the Flames transition into Horizon League play. The magic defensive number could very well be 70: When the Flames allow their opponent to score 70 or more points, they are 0-10 on the season.

    First-year head coach Howard Moore and the UIC men's basketball program received some great news in late September, when Minnesota transfer Paul Carter was granted a legislative relief waiver by the NCAA, allowing him immediate eligibility at UIC for his senior season.

    Carter served as Minnesota's Sixth Man the past two seasons, helping the Golden Gophers reach a pair of NCAA Tournaments.

    Carter transferred to UIC with one year of eligibility remaining to be near his sister, Bria, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, last winter. Since Carter joined the Flames, Bria has completed chemotherapy, received a temporary prosthetic leg after amputation, and started her high school career at King High School in Chicago this semester.