Jan. 28, 2014
UIC Game Notes
The UIC men’s basketball team (5-16, 0-7) will hit the road again this week as they journey to Detroit (9-13, 2-5) for a game on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. CT. The Horizon League tilt will conclude the first half of conference play as both teams look for some momentum to climb the conference standings. The Flames were recently defeated on a last-second three at Oakland last Saturday as Detroit has lost five of its last six contests. The Titans swept UIC in the regular season last year and hold the all-time series advantage of 26-14.
Last Time Out
It was another heartbreaker for UIC last Saturday as the Flames were defeated on a last-second three pointer by Oakland’s Duke Mondy, lifting the Grizzles to a 76-75 victory. After freshman Pat Birt drained a pair of free throws to put the Flames up two with 4.4 seconds left, Mondy received the in-bound pass, dribbled the length of the court and sank the game-winning trey from the top of the key as time expired. Oakland’s full-court pressure gave UIC fits as the Flames gave up 24 points off turnovers in the second half. The Flames recorded a season-high 50 percent (8-of-16) from behind the arc and also out-rebounded Oakland by a season-best margin of +17 (38-21).
Scouting the Titans
Detroit enters the midweek matchup with an overall record of 9-13 and a Horizon League mark of 2-5. The Titans have lost five of their last six outings, but downed Milwaukee on the road last Friday by a final 73-54. Detroit is led by Juwan Howard Jr. who averages 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Howard has improved his scoring from last season by 9.8 points per game, which is the highest increase of any player in the conference. Senior forward Evan Bruinsma serves as the league’s second-best rebounder with an average of 7.8 boards per outing, adding 12 points per night.
Oh So Close
The Flames have nearly tasted several victories as of late only to see it slip away in the final minutes. In four of the last five games, UIC has been in the lead with less than six minutes left to play and have also held an advantage of at least eight or more points at one moment in those four contests. Those same four defeats have all been by five points or less.
Senior Jordan Harks was nearly flawless against Oakland last Saturday, shooting 8-of-9 from the floor and posting a career-high 21 points. His 89 percentage shooting clip is tied for the second best single-game performance in the Horizon League this season and stands as the best for a UIC player since Hayden Humes went 8-for-9 on Dec. 12, 2012, versus Roosevelt. Harks played just 25 minutes at Oakland and shot 5-of-5 in the first half.
Big Ten Network college basketball analyst Tim Doyle recently stated that senior Kelsey Barlow reminded him of a “mini-Lebron James.” Barlow stands alone as the only player in the Horizon League and one of very few in the nation to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. On top of that, he is the conference’s lone player to average more than 15 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.
Showing No Quit
Despite recent struggles, glaring signs that UIC continues to fight is shown on the offensive glass and with second-chance points. In their seven Horizon League games, the Flames have out-scored their HL opposition in second-chance points by a surplus of 77-47. UIC has also out-rebounded their opponent on the offensive glass by a margin of 78-50 and have not been outdone in this category in league play thus far. UIC leads the conference in offensive rebounds with 11.1 per game in league games played.
First Half Heroics
Throughout the last eight games, UIC has owned five halftime leads, including a 44-34 advantage against Illinois and the Flames’ three halftime shortfalls combine for just 11 points. In those eight games, the Flames are out-scoring (275-245), out-rebounding (145-107) and out-shooting (48.2% to 44.1%) their opponents. UIC has also produced a three-point shooting percentage of 45.3% during the first half of the previous eight games, compared to just 35.7% for their competition.
Robo Cop to the Rescue
Sophomore Jake Wiegand, aka Robo Cop, has found himself a spot in the starting lineup during the past four games and has provided a much needed spark for the Flames. In the past four outings, Wiegand is averaging 11 points and seven rebounds per game to lead UIC in both categories during that span. He is also shooting 15-of-26 (.577) from the field and 13-of-16 (.813) from the foul line in the same timeframe.
Parker the Point
In starting the last five games, junior Jay Parker has shown his ability to handle point guard duties. Over that span, Parker is averaging 6.8 points and 4.6 assists per game. Against Oakland, he matched a career-high six assists after dishing out six helpers in the previous game versus Cleveland State. Parker is also 11-of-12 from the foul line in the past five games with two double-digit scoring performances.
Sure Shot Harks
Senior Jordan Harks has been a model of efficiency this season shooting 73-of-114 (64%) from the floor, which ranks second among all Horizon League players. Harks has performed even better as of late, connecting on 43 of his last 60 shot attempts (71.6%) throughout the past 11 games. If the season ended today, Harks’ 64 percent shooting clip would rank first on UIC’s all-time single-season leaderboard. The 6-foot-8 forward also paces the conference with a 65.7 percent shooting mark (23-of-35) in league games only.
Senior Hayden Humes is expected to miss 2-4 weeks after suffering an eye injury last Thursday during practice. Humes did not play against Oakland on Saturday. Lance Whitaker underwent successful ACL surgery in late December and will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season.