Feb. 4, 2014
UIC Game Notes
The UIC men’s basketball team (5-18, 0-9) begins a three-game road stretch on Wednesday as they travel to first-place Green Bay with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. In their first meeting of the season on Jan. 19, UIC held a seven-point lead with just over eight minutes to play, but the Phoenix were able to knot the score with 2:38 on the clock and finish the game on a 9-1 run. Green Bay escaped Chicago with a 69-64 victory, which moved the all-time series record to 50-37 in favor of the Phoenix.
Last Time Out
The Flames dropped a home contest last Saturday to Valparaiso by a final of 70-46. Crusader senior and Horizon League Player of the Week LaVonte Dority poured in a career-high 33 points, including 22 in the first half. He also shot 10-of-15 from the field and 5-of-6 from behind the arc. The Flames experienced their worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 15-of-56 (26.8%) from the floor and 3-of-13 (23.1%) from outside. Dortiy hit his second three of the game just before half to give Valpo a 13-point lead at the break. The Flames got to within 12 with 7:59 left to play, but the Crusaders closed out the day on a 10-0 run to seal the deal.
Scouting the Phoenix
Green Bay enters the midweek contest with a comfortable lead in the Horizon League standings, owning an 8-1 conference mark. The Phoenix have won 13 of their last 14 games and their lone home loss this season was a 69-66 defeat against nationally-ranked Wisconsin on Nov. 16. Green Bay currently sits 62nd in the latest RPI rankings and sixth in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll. The Phoenix are piloted by junior Keifer Sykes and senior Alec Brown who average 20.6 and 15.9 points per game, respectively. Sykes set a Horizon League record last week for the most conference Player of the Week awards in one season with six. The 7-foot-1 Brown leads a unit that ranks second in the nation blocked shots as Brown ranks ninth in total blocks as an individual.
Oh So Close
In five of UIC’s last seven games, the Flames have either been in the lead or tied with less than six minutes left to play and have also held an advantage of at least eight or more points in four of those contests. Five of those seven defeats have been by six points or less.
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 nine Horizon League games, the Flames have out-scored their HL opposition in second-chance points by a surplus of 94-58. UIC has also out-rebounded their opponent on the offensive glass by a margin of 102-64 and have not been outdone in this category in league play thus far. UIC ranks first in the conference in offensive rebounds with 11.3 per game in league affairs only.
Senior Kelsey Barlow is one of just two players in the Horizon League to lead his team in points, assists and steals. The other is preseason Player of the Year Kendrick Perry. Barlow also ranks second on the team in rebounds and blocked shots. On top of that, he is the conference’s lone player to average more than 15 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.
Robo Cop to the Rescue
Sophomore Jake Wiegand, aka Robo Cop, has found himself a spot in the starting lineup during the past six games and has provided UIC with a much needed spark. In the past six outings, Wiegand is averaging 10.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 20-of-23 (.869) from the foul line in the same timeframe. He ranks fifth in offensive rebounds in the Horizon League and fourth in league-only games.
Sure Shot Harks
Senior Jordan Harks has been a model of efficiency this season shooting 79-of-127 (62.2%) from the floor, which ranks second among all Horizon League players. Harks has shot 50 percent or better in 18 of his 23 games and if the season ended today, his 62.2 percent shooting clip would rank third on UIC’s all-time single-season leaderboard.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Junior Marc Brown has taken his offensive game to the next level this season by increasing his scoring average by 6.7 ppg. and has bettered his three-point shooting by more than 13 percentage points (.242 to .373). His 12.7 points per game average in league games leads the team and ranks 16th in the conference. Brown has already scored 98 more points than last year’s total and needs 26 more to reach 700 for his career. He also stands as the only player to start all 23 games on this year’s team.
Banging the Boards
Since entering league play, UIC has improved its rebounding tremendously as they rank second in rebounding margin in conference play at +4.1. They have only been bested on the glass four times since the turn of the New Year for a combined deficit of a mere nine rebounds in those games. The Flames recorded a season-high margin of +17 (38-21) against Oakland on Jan. 25, the program’s highest margin in nearly three years (Jan. 29, 2011 vs. YSU [+27])
Senior Hayden Humes is doubtful for action against Green Bay after suffering an eye injury during practice on Jan. 23. Lance Whitaker underwent successful ACL surgery in late December and will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season.
Snider From Downtown
Sophomore Gabe Snider has made a name for himself as one of the best three-point shooters in the Horizon League. The Chicago native ranks fourth in the conference with a behind-the-arc percentage of 43.5% (20-of-46), which currently ranks 11th in UIC’s all-time single season records book. Snider has already drained six times as many threes this seasons than all of his treys from 2012-13.
Top of His Class
Pat Birt stands as one of the top Horizon League players in this year’s freshmen class and has become a reliable contributor for the Flames this season. Birt is the third-highest scoring freshman in the conference, averaging 5.6 points per game and was honored by the league office on Dec. 30 as the Horizon League Freshman of the Week for his performances against Colorado State and Illinois. The 5A First-Team All-State guard from Plano, Texas, ranks as the league’s best freshmen free throw shooter, hitting 23-of-27 (.852) from the charity stripe.
Trio on the Boards
Seniors Kelsey Barlow and Jordan Harks along with sophomore Jake Wiegand are all averaging more than five rebounds per game. In fact they sit within three total rebounds of each other and rank 16th, 17th, and 18th in the Horizon League. The last time UIC had a trio of players average more than five boards per game was in the 2006-07 season. Former San Antonio Spurs guard Othyus Jeffers led the way with 8.6, while Jovan Stefanov and Scott VanderMeer grabbed 5.7 and 5.6, respectively.
Barlow With the Dish
Senior Kelsey Barlow owns the Horizon League’s sixth-best assist per game average of 4.0. He also touts 10 games with five or more helpers this season and has led the Flames in assists in 15 of 23 contests.
Flames Filling it Up
If UIC can hold it’s scoring average of 67.7 points per game for the remainder of the season, it would become the highest scoring mark for the Flames since the 2007-08 season. That year UIC averaged 68.1 points per game spurred by junior Josh Mayo putting up 17.1 points per outing.