Cleveland State (19-4) at Illinois-Chicago (7-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 5th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (8,000) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: CSU 8-1, UIC 7-4. Away Record: CSU 10-2, UIC 0-11. Neutral Record: CSU 1-1, UIC 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 9-2, UIC 3-9. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 38-32.
GAME NOTES: The Cleveland State Vikings will try to maintain their spot atop the Horizon League standings when they take on the Illinois-Chicago Flames this afternoon at UIC Pavilion.
Cleveland State has won four straight games, its third winning streak this year of at least four games, and the team is a win away from notching its 20th of season. The Vikings waxed Loyola-Chicago, 65-47, in their more recent game on Friday night.
Illinois-Chicago has struggled for much of the campaign, having yet to register back-to-back wins at any point. The Flames were able to halt a four- game losing streak on Thursday however, defeating Youngstown State in a 72-68 final.
Cleveland State has taken the advantage in the all-time series, 38-32, thanks to nine consecutive wins over UIC. The Vikings took the first meeting this season in convincing fashion, winning 73-56 back on January 5.
Cleveland State has built its identity around one of the best defenses in the country, as the team allows just 58.5 ppg on only 41.9 percent field goal efficiency. The Vikings permitting Loyola-Chicago just 40.4 percent shooting from the field in Friday's win and surrendered 47 points for the second consecutive game. The offense for Cleveland State has been solid as well, scoring 67 ppg and the club shot a season-high 67.6 percent from the floor in Friday's win. Jeremy Montgomery paced the Vikings with 16 points on the strength of his 3-of-4 effort from three-point range. Montgomery (10.9 ppg) joins Trevon Harmon (11.9 ppg) and D'Aundray Brown (11.3 ppg) as the leading scorers for the Vikings. Harmon drains 2.2 three pointers per game and is one of the league's best from the free throw line (.821), while Brown leads the league in steals (2.7 spg). Cleveland State is not terribly strong on the boards as it doesn't have a player averaging more than 5.5 rpg.
UIC has not been strong at either end of the court this season, ranking eighth in the Horizon league in both scoring offense (61.8 ppg) and scoring defense (66.7 ppg). The Flames impressed in Thursday's win however, as they shot 44.6 percent from the field and 9-of-21 from three-point range en route to their second-highest scoring output of the year. Gary Talton led the way UIC in the win with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Talton averages 11.6 ppg and has been hot of late, netting 14.8 ppg over the last six games. Daniel Barnes (11.3 ppg) is the only other UIC player to average double digits, though both he and Talton struggle from the field as neither connects on even 40 percent of their total shots. Darrin Williams provides a solid presence in the paint, contributing 9.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 55.4 percent from the field, fourth-best in the conference.
UIC has been surprisingly effective at home, winning all seven of its games there thus far. Still, CSU has been far too impressive lately to slip up against an inferior opponent.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 70, Illinois-Chicago 58
02/05 10:34:03 ET