Dec. 3, 2013
UIC Game Notes
The UIC men's basketball team (3-4) returns home on Wednesday night to host Southern Methodist (SMU) after placing third in the inaugural Gulf Coast Showcase last week. In their most recent outing, the Flames defeated NEC preseason favorite Wagner by a final score of 94-76 this past Wednesday behind a 38-point performance by senior Kelsey Barlow. The Mustangs enter the mid-week match up with a 7-2 record, winning five of their last six games. SMU's latest contest was against McNesse State this past Monday, downing the Cowboys 88-59.
Last Time Out
In the third-place game of the Gulf Coast Showcase, UIC downed NEC preseason favorite Wagner by a final score of 94-76. The Flames were led by senior Kelsey Barlow who poured in a career-high 38 points, the third-highest total in program history and the largest output since Feb. 23, 2005. UIC started fast by jumping out to a 12-4 lead and used an 18-2 run in the second half to put the game out of reach. The Flames made 40 trips to the free throw line, due in large part to five technical fouls by the Seahawks. UIC sank 34 of those attempts with Barlow netting 17. Freshman Pat Birt and sophomore Jake Wiegand matched their previous career-highs with 11 points as UIC shot 27-of-53 (50.9%) from the floor.
Scouting the Mustangs
A member of the newly-formed American Conference, SMU (7-2) is coached by Hall of Famer Larry Brown who is in his second season with the Mustangs. Brown stands alone as the only head coach in history to win an NCAA Championship (Kansas, 1988) and an NBA title (Detroit, 2004). The Mustangs are paced by sophomore Nic Moore with an average of 13.9 points per game, followed by junior Yanick Moreira at an 11.0 scoring clip. SMU ranks as one of the top rebounding teams in the nation as they tout an opponent margin of +9.8. Defensively they limit their opposition to a .363 field goal shooting percentage.
Barlow Explodes for 38 vs. Wagner
Senior Kelsey Barlow netted a career-high 38 points versus Wagner last Wednesday, tying the third-highest individual point total in UIC history. Barlow's output is also the Flames' largest single-game effort since Feb. 23, 2005, when Cedrick Banks tallied 39 against Wright State. Thirty eight points stands as the highest effort of any Horizon League player since current Miami Heat point guard Norris Cole ripped off 42 points on Feb 12, 2011. During three games at the Gulf Coast Showcase, Barlow averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game and was named to the All-Tournament team. He was also recognized by College Sports Madness as the Horizon League Player of the Week.
Strength of Schedule
Seven of UIC's eight opponents (including SMU) so far this season own a winning percentage of .500 or better and combine for an overall record of 45-19. The non-conference season won't get any easier as the Flames make road trips to 6-2 Southeast Missouri State, 6-2 Colorado State, along with a showdown versus 7-0 Illinois at the United Center on Dec. 28.
Flames Filling it Up
The Flames are on track to demolish last year's scoring totals as they are averaging nearly 11 points more per contests so far this season (2012: 62.8, 2013: 73.7). More recently, UIC has totaled 74 points or more in each of its last three games, doing so for the first time since Feb. of 2010. The Flames' 2013-14 average of 73.7 points per game would be the highest team-season total since the 2002-03 campaign when UIC scored 75 an outing.
Neutral Site Success
After finishing 2-1 at the first annual Gulf Coast Showcase last week, UIC Head Coach Howard Moore improved his neutral site record to 6-4 during his four seasons as the Flames' mentor. Moore's biggest neutral site victory was against No. 12/14 Illinois on Dec. 18, 2010 when UIC knocked off the Fighting Illini, 57-54, at the United Center. In that same season, the Flames beat Rhode Island and lost to College of Charleston in the 2K Sports Classic hosted by Toledo. Last year, UIC went 2-1 at the Paradise Jam and then fell to Green Bay in quarterfinals of the Horizon League Tournament.
Birt Takes Center Stage
Freshman Pat Birt has burst onto the scene in UIC's previous two games, with consecutive 11-point outings against Louisiana Tech and Wagner. Birt owned just five points in three contests and five minutes of action prior to his emergence. The Plano, Texas native shot 4-of-6 versus Wagner and also tallied a career-high five rebounds.
Underclassmen Stepping Up
Along with freshman Pat Birt, UIC has several other underclassmen that are providing the Flames with quality minutes. Sophomore Jake Wiegand matched his career-high with 11 points versus Wagner, playing in a career-best 26 minutes. He is also tied-for-first with Kelsey Barlow in team rebounding with an average of 4.6 boards per game. Sophomore Gabe Snider has proved lethal from long range with a team-best .455 three-point shooting percentage and freshman Markese McGuire stands as UIC sixth leading scorer.