March 3, 2014
UIC Game Notes
The ninth-seeded UIC men’s basketball team (6-24, 1-15) will battle No. 4 seed Valparaiso (17-14, 9-7) on Tuesday evening in the first round of the 2014 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Crusaders will host the Flames with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. Valpo won both gatherings against UIC this season, but the Flames still hold the all-time series advantage with a record of 29-19. However, the last time UIC claimed victory against Valparaiso was back on Feb. 15, 2009. Tuesday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between UIC and Valpo in the Horizon League Tournament.
Last Time Out
The Flames took third-place Wright State to the wire this past Saturday at home, but the Raiders came away with a 68-61 victory. UIC owned a one-point halftime advantage and led by as much as five points early in the second half. After Kelsey Barlow’s three-pointer at the 8:40 mark, the Flames didn’t record another field goal for the remainder of game as WSU finally took control of the lead with 7:15 left to play. Barlow paced UIC with 16 points, his 22nd double-digit game this year. The Flames shot 50 percent in the first half only to record 22.2 percent in the final period.
Scouting the Crusaders
No. 4 seed Valparaiso enters the Horizon League Tournament with an overall record of 17-14 and a Horizon League mark of 9-7. The Crusaders have lost their last two outings and three of the past four, which included a 68-66 win over Youngstown State. First-Team All-Leaguer LaVonte Dority leads Valpo in scoring with an average of 16.2 points per game and also shoots 44 percent from behind the arc. The Crusaders also tout two All-Freshman Team honorees in Alec Peters and Lexus Williams who average 12.0 and 6.8 points per game.
HL Tourney talk
UIC will hold the No. 9 seed in the Horizon League Tournament for just the second time since entering the conference. The Flames also held the No. 9 seed during the 2009-10 championship and lost to No. 4 seed Milwaukee by a final of 73-67. UIC owns a 17-17 all-time record in the Horizon League Tournament and have claimed two championship titles in 2002 and 2004.
Recapping 2012-13 First-Round Win
UIC claimed victory during last season’s first-round contest at home against the eighth-seeded Cleveland State Vikings on March 5, 2013 by a final of 82-59. The win was UIC’s first HL tourney victory since the 2008-09 season and the program’s second-largest margin of victory in the postseason event. The Flames advanced to the quarterfinals to face No. 4 seed Green Bay and fell 64-63 after Sultan Muhammad sank a game-winning triple with less than two seconds left to play.
In eight of UIC’s 15 Horizon League losses, the Flames have either been in the lead or tied with just over seven minutes left to play and have also held an advantage of at least eight or more points in eight of those contests. Ten of those 15 defeats have been by 10 points or less. Despite being saddled with 24 losses, the Flames are only averaging 5.6 less points per game than their opponents (72.5-66.9).
Birt Garners All-Freshman Honors
Freshman Pat Birt has been named to the Horizon League’s All-Freshman team as voted on by coaches, media and sports information directors. Birt has started 15 times and is averaging 6.5 points per game, owning five games with 10 or more points in league play. The lefty shoots nearly 40 percent from downtown and has converted 86.5 percent of his free throw attempts this season.
Epic Road Win
UIC snapped its 17-game losing in epic fashion last Tuesday night with an 80-58 win at fifth-place Milwaukee. The 22-point triumph was the largest margin of victory for UIC in a league road game in more than 16 years when the Flames downed Cleveland State, 96-72, on Feb. 19, 1998. It was the Flames’ largest road conquest since Dec. 5, 2006, when UIC pummeled in-state rival Northern Illinois by a final of 71-48 and stands as UIC’s first win at Milwaukee since March 1, 2008.
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 16 Horizon League games, the Flames have out-scored their HL opposition in second-chance points by a surplus of 163-127. UIC has also out-rebounded their opponent on the offensive glass by a margin of 178-139 and have been outdone only three times in this category in league play.
Barlow Stands Alone
Senior Kelsey Barlow is the only player in the Horizon League to lead his team in points, assists and steals. He also ranks third on the team in blocked shots and rebounds. On top of that, he is the conference’s lone player to average more than 14 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Barlow owns seven 20-point outings this year and has reached double-digits on 22 occasions.