Men's Hoops Begins Postseason Run at Cleveland State Tuesday

Feb. 28, 2011

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» The UIC men's basketball team will look to keep its postseason hopes alive on Tuesday, when the Flames begin their run in the Horizon League Tournament against third-seeded Cleveland State. UIC tied for ninth-place in the regular season standings, but garnered the No. 10 seed, as Youngstown State held the tiebreaker over the Flames.

» Senior guard Robo Kreps, who moved into seventh-place on the all-time scoring list last Saturday at Valparaiso, enters Tuesday's game at Cleveland State with 1,584 career points, just 16 tallies short of becoming the seventh player in program history to score 1,600 or more points. Kreps also enters the contest with 296 career free throws, just four short of 300.

» UIC and Cleveland State will be facing off in the postseason for the second time in the past three seasons. The Vikings eliminated the Flames in the second round of the 2009 Horizon League Tournament (67-64) at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

» UIC is the top-ranked offensive rebounding team in the Horizon League, averaging more than 13 offensive boards (13.2) per game. The Flames also lead the league in rebounding margin (+4.3) during conference play.

» Cleveland State swept the regular season series against UIC, recording an 83-59 win at the Wolstein Center on New Year's Day, followed by a 63-49 victory at the UIC Pavilion on Jan. 27. Robo Kreps averaged 15.5 points per game on a 44.4 field goal percentage in the two contests, while Norris Cole scored a combined 43 points to lead CSU.

With a win over Cleveland State, UIC would advance to the the second round of the Horizon League Tournament, and face the winner of the Wright State (No. 7) vs. Green Bay (No. 6) game on Friday (March 4), at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee.

UIC: Howard Moore is in his first season as a college head coach. Moore, 37, comes to UIC after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant coach at Wisconsin, his alma mater, under head coach Bo Ryan.

Moore joined the Badgers staff in 2005 and helped lead them to the NCAA Tournament in each of his five seasons in Madison. The team advanced past the first round of the Big Dance in each of the last four seasons and produced a memorable Sweet 16 run in 2008.

With Moore on the bench, Wisconsin posted three of the top-five winningest seasons in school history, including an historic 2007-08 campaign that saw the Badgers win a school-record 31 games en route to Big Ten regular season and tournament championships.

Under Ryan's tutelage Moore established himself as one of the top recruiters in the Big Ten by utilizing the Chicagoland area as a main pipeline for talent.

Cleveland State: Gary Waters, who also served head coaching stints at Rutgers and Kent State, is in his fourth season as the mentor at Cleveland State.

Waters has led the Vikings to back-to-back postseason appearances, including an NIT invitation in 2008 and the school's second NCAA bid in 2009. That stretch has included consecutive 20-win campaigns for the first time since the 1980s. He led the Golden Flashes to a 92-60 record in five seasons from 1996-2001, and at Rutgers, Waters' Scarlet Knights advanced to three NIT's.

Tenth-seeded UIC finished the 2010-11 regular season with a 7-23 (2-16 Horizon) record, including a 1-13 record in true road games. The Flames are coming off a 79-65 loss against at Valparaiso last Saturday.

Senior guard Robo Kreps is leading the Flames offensively, scoring 16.0 points per game -- he has also dished out a team-high 87 assists. Minnesota transfer, senior forward Paul Carter is averaging 14.6 points per game, while also leading the Flames in rebounding with 8.0 caroms per contest, second-best in the Horizon League. Kreps currently ranks sixth in the conference in scoring, while Carter is 10th.

In Horizon League play, Kreps (15.4; 6th) and Carter (14.7; 9th) both rank in the top-10 in the conference in scoring, while Carter is second in rebounding, at 8.0 caroms per game. He averaged 5.4 defensive rebounds per contest in UIC's 18 Horizon League games.

UIC is averaging 62.7 points per game, and allowing its opponents to score 69.3 points per contest. In Horizon League play, UIC leads the conference in both offensive rebounds (13.2 rpg) and rebounding margin (+4.3).

Kreps has scored 20 or more points on 12 occasions, which ranks second in the Horizon League behind only Cleveland State's Norris Cole. Additionally, Carter has corralled at least 10 rebounds 11 times, which ranks second in the league. Carter's eight double-doubles in Horizon League play lead the conference, and he has also pulled down at least 10 rebounds eight times, the second-best mark in the league.

Cleveland State tied for the regular season Horizon League championship, but garnered the No. 3 seed due to Milwaukee and Butler owning tiebreakers over the Vikings. CSU enters the postseason with a 24-7 record (13-5 Horizon), and has won three-of its last five games.

Senior guard Norris Cole chalked up Horizon League Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-League honors on Monday -- he averages 21.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Junior guards Trevor Harmon (13.4 ppg) and Jeremy Montgomery (11.9) have each joined Cole in double figures through CSU's 31 games.

Junior forward Aaron Pogue is averaging a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He has combined with sophomore forward Charlie Woods to produce 48 blocked shots.

In Horizon League play, Cleveland State leads the conference in scoring margin (+6.7), and ranks second in scoring offense (72.7 ppg), free throw percentage (.737), defensive field goal percentage (.425) and defensive rebounds (23.8 rpg).

Jan. 1 at the Wolstein Center: Cleveland State led from wire-to-wire, handing UIC just its third loss this season without building a lead in the first or second half ... Seniors Paul Carter (11) and Robo Kreps (21) both scored in double figures ... The Vikings swiped 15 steals, the most for a UIC opponent this season ... The Flames out-rebounded Cleveland State 35-34 ... Senior center K.C. Robbins pulled down seven rebounds, while Carter corralled 11 caroms ... UIC held the Vikings to just a 38.9 percent shooting effort in the first half, but CSU shot 53.6 percent in the second frame ... Cleveland State out-scored the Flames in the paint (38-18), off turnovers (21-5), on second chance points (11-10) and through both the fast break (10-0) and the bench (20-18) ... UIC committed a season-high 24 turnovers in the game, and converted a season-low 17 field goals.

Jan. 27 at the UIC Pavilion: 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 ... 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 ... 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).

Cleveland State leads the all-time series between the Flames and Vikings 36-32, breaking an all-time tie with a regular season sweep last year. Overall, CSU has captured seven-straight victories over UIC, dating back to the 2008-09 campaign.

UIC captured Horizon League Tournament championships at the conclusion of the 2001-02 and 2003-04 campaigns, garnering the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament ... Since joining the conference prior to the 2001-02 season, the Flames have compiled a 12-7 record in Horizon League Tournament games ... UIC last advanced to the second round of the Horizon League Tournament in 2009 ... The Flames are 8-1 all-time in the first-round of the Horizon League Tournament, with their lone loss coming last March at Milwaukee (3/2/10) ... The Flames' most common opponent in the Horizon League Tournament has been Milwaukee, whom UIC has taken on five times in the postseason ... Tuesday's game marks UIC's third meeting against Cleveland State in the Horizon League Tournament - the Flames are 1-1 in those contests, defeating the Vikings 84-65 at the UIC Pavilion on March 1, 2005, and falling 67-64 in the second round at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 6, 2009.

Senior forward Paul Carter, who has tallied 11 double-doubles on the season and recorded a team-high 25 double-digit scoring outputs, was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer team Monday morning. Carter was joined on the team by Detroit's Ray McCallum, Kaylon Williams from Milwaukee, Green Bay's Alec Brown and Damian Eargle of Youngstown State. McCallum was named the league's Newcomer of the Year.

Senior guard Robo Kreps moved into seventh on the all-time scoring list with his game-high 21 points at Valparaiso last Saturday, and enters Tuesday's game at Cleveland State just 16 tallies short (1,584) of becoming only the seventh player in program history to score 1,600 or more points. Kreps also has 296 made free throws, just four short of 300 for his career.

Senior guard Robo Kreps has averaged 18.9 points per contest over UIC's last eight conference games, stringing together his best stretch during Horizon League play. Six of those games have resulted in a 20-point outbursts, including 25 points at Detroit (2/3/11) and 24 tallies against Milwaukee (2/12/11). Kreps also joined the 1,500 career-point club at Butler (2/7/11), and hit the game-winning field goal in overtime, in the Flames' 63-61 win over Green Bay (2/10/11).

Senior forward Paul Carter leads the Flames with 11 double-doubles on the season, including a league-leading eight 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), Loyola (1/22/11), Youngstown State (1/29/11), Wright State (2/5/11) and Butler (2/7/11).

UIC enters Tuesday'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 Paul Carter (2.6 rpg; 5th), Brad Birton (2.5 rpg; 6th) and Paris Carter (2.1 rpg; 9th) all ranking in the top-10 of the league in offensive rebounds during Horizon League play.

UIC has recorded a rebounding advantage in 19 of its 30 games this season, including 13-of the last 18, and in 13-of-18 Horizon League games.

Senior forward Paul Carter has been the main catalyst for the Flames' success on the boards this season. The Horizon League's second-leading rebounder (8.0 rpg), Carter has led the Flames in rebounding 16 times, and also grabbed nine or more caroms on 14 occasions.

UIC's defensive effort has had a direct result on its won-loss fate as the Flames enter the stretch run of 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 0-15 on the season.

UIC is 3-6 in games decided by five points or less this season, and four of those losses have come in Horizon League play, including two overtime setbacks. In fact, in 10 of the Flames' 23 losses this season, UIC has held a lead in the second half.