Wright State (17-13) at Illinois-Chicago (6-23)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (8,000) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: WSU 13-2, UIC 2-11. Away Record: WSU 3-11, UIC 2-10. Neutral Record: WSU 1-0, UIC 2-2. Conference Record: WSU 9-6, UIC 1-14. Series Record: Wright State leads, 24-23.
GAME NOTES: The Wright State Raiders are riding a wave of momentum into the Windy City where they will conclude their regular season with a Horizon League tilt against the Illinois-Chicago Flames.
Coach Billy Donlon's Raiders stifled Valparaiso en route to a 67-58 win on Tuesday. The victory over the Crusaders was the third in a row for Wright State, which will clinch the third seed in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament with a triumph at UIC Pavilion. The Raiders have struggled away from home, winning only two of their 11 true road tests. Wright State's defensive-minded approach has helped it limit its opposition to an average of 62.3 ppg this season. Offensively, the Raiders are netting 67.3 ppg on 45 percent efficiency from the floor.
UIC has a little bit of momentum heading into Saturday after its surprising, 80-58 rout of Milwaukee in its last appearance. The victory snapped a 17-game losing streak and gave the Flames their first Horizon League win of the campaign. Coach Howard Moore's squad has done a poor job of defending its home floor as it has just two victories in 12 games at UIC Pavilion. The Flames are averaging only 67.1 ppg on 42.5 percent shooting from the field.
The Flames swept WSU last season to even the all-time series at 23 wins apiece, but the Raiders edged UIC, 58-53, in Dayton earlier this year to take a one-game lead in the rivalry's history.
Senior forward A.J. Pacher made the most of his Senior Night as he paced the Raiders with 20 points, while fellow senior Cole Darling finished with 12 points. WSU forced the Crusaders into 20 turnovers and converted 15-of-18 shots at the free-throw line in the contest. J.T. Yoho provided a spark off the bench with 10 points. Since Donlon's system places an emphasis on aggressive defense, 10 different Raiders are clocking 11 minutes per game or more. As a result of the balance in playing time, Pacher is leading the team in scoring with only 10.8 ppg. Yoho and Darling are contributing 8.7 and 8.5 ppg, respectively.
UIC did not appear to be an offensively challenged group in its last outing. The Flames sank 51.9 percent of their field- goal tries, including a 7-of-17 clip from beyond the arc, and also converted 19-of-23 attempts at the charity stripe. Senior guard Kelsey Barlow erupted for 23 points and Jordan Harks added 10 points. Junior guard Jay Parker also made his mark with a career-best seven boards, which he accompanied with eight points and four assists. Although Barlow is converting just under 40 percent of his shots from the floor, he is still posting 14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 4.1 apg. Marc Brown is chipping in 11.5 ppg and Harks is shooting 61.7 percent from the field for 8.1 ppg.
If the Raiders come up short versus UIC, they will give Valparaiso an opportunity to jump them in the conference race. WSU's depth should help it clamp down on the red hot Flames, who will be a tough out if they duplicate the offensive performance they submitted on Tuesday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wright State 68, Illinois-Chicago 65
03/01 11:02:38 ET