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Illinois-Chicago (15-10) at Loyola-Chicago (13-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentile Arena (4,486) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: Horizon League Network, ESPN3, Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Home Record: UIC 9-2, Loyola 6-4. Away Record: UIC 4-7, Loyola 6-7. Neutral Record: UIC 2-1, Loyola 1-1. Conference Record: UIC 6-6, Loyola 3-9. Series Record: Illinois- Chicago leads, 31-19.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois-Chicago Flames will look to hand the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers their fifth loss in a row when the Windy City rivals square off at Gentile Arena in a Horizon League bout.
The Flames managed to clip Loyola, 61-59, on Jan. 16 in the first matchup between these schools in 2012-13 on Jan. 16. UIC now holds a 31-19 all-time series edge in the rivalry's history. Gary Talton provided the knockout punch for the Flames in the first encounter this season with a game winning layup in the closing seconds. Josh Crittle led UIC with 12 points and seven boards while the Ramblers were paced by Christian Thomas and Ben Averkamp, who tallied 16 and 14 points, respectively.
UIC now enters looking for the sweep with a 15-10 overall record and 6-6 league standing. The Flames survived a triple-overtime thriller at Youngstown State on Sunday to snap a two-game slide with an 88-83 victory. In the win, Talton finished with 23 points and nine assists, Crittle registered a double- double of 18 points and 12 boards, and Daniel Barnes pumped in 20 points. The Flames shot 42.9 percent from the field and converted 20-of-25 at the free- throw line to overcome 17 turnovers and 21 personal fouls.
Talton is leading UIC with 13.4 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per contest, while Barnes (11.3), Crittle (10.4) and Hayden Humes (10.3) all own double-digit scoring averages also. Despite placing four different players in the double-figure scoring column, the Flames are second to last in the Horizon League in scoring at 62.3 ppg.
The Ramblers return home after a fruitless three-game road swing that included setbacks to Wright State (62-59), Youngstown State (60-59) and Milwaukee (71-53). The loss to the Panthers was the fourth in a row and lowered Loyola to a 13-12 record and second to last place standing in the Horizon League race. The team has been without its senior leader Ben Averkamp for the past two games with a concussion that may keep him out Saturday.
With Averkamp's 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game missing, Jordan Hicks scored a team-best 12 points for Loyola against the Panthers. Nick Osborne and Devon Turk chipped in 11 points apiece while Christian Thomas just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine boards. Loyola is slightly ahead of UIC in the scoring column with 62.6 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting from the floor.
Thomas averages 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per tilt, but none of the other Ramblers are scoring in double figures. Turk, Cully Payne and Hicks will all need to step up their play exponentially for Loyola if Averkamp is unable to suit up again.
The Flames are a streaky team away from home, which leaves the door open for Loyola to end its skein. With or without Averkamp, the Ramblers should be more competitive than they were against Milwaukee.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 66, Loyola-Chicago 63
02/16 10:36:15 ET
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