Illinois-Chicago (10-4) at Cleveland State (8-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, January 7, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wolstein Center (13,610)- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: Horizon League Network. Home Record: UIC 6-0, CSU 5-1. Away Record: UIC 2-3, CSU 0-6. Neutral Record: UIC 2-1, CSU 3-0. Conference Record: UIC 1-0, CSU 0-1. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 39-32.
GAME NOTES: The Cleveland State Vikings take aim at their first Horizon League victory of the season, as they play host to the Flames of Illinois-Chicago at the Wolstein Center on Monday evening.
UIC ended a three-game losing slide with a 65-60 decision over Youngstown State in its conference opener last Wednesday. The Flames came out of the gate hot this season with nine wins in their first 10 games before suffering consecutive losses to Western Illinois (70-54), Miami-Ohio (82-70) and Toledo (74-55). UIC has the second-best scoring defense in the Horizon League with an allowed average of 57.3 ppg, but it is just sixth in the conference in scoring offense (63.8 ppg).
The Vikings suffered their second consecutive loss and dropped to 0-1 in Horizon League play on Friday when they were handed a 74-50 defeat by Valparaiso. Cleveland State has lost five in a row versus Division I foes, but the good news is it had a 5-1 record at the Wolstein Center this season. The Vikings are a middle-of-the-road team at the offensive end with a scoring average of 66.6 ppg, but they are doing a poor job of keeping opponents in check with a typical yield of 70.3 ppg.
Cleveland State owns a 29-23 series advantage over UIC, and the Vikings have won the last 10 meetings.
The Flames managed to knock off the Penguins in their conference opener by outrebounding them, 42-33, and converting 14 turnovers into 19 points. Gary Talton led the way for UIC with 19 points and six assists. Hayden Humes (15 points, seven rebounds), Josh Crittle (14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks), and Daniel Barnes (10 points, seven rebounds) were all able to reach double-figures in points as well. Talton ranks third in the Horizon League in both scoring (12.6 ppg) and assists (4.8 apg), and Barnes chips in with 12.5 ppg. Humes (11.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is playing well from the forward slot and Crittle has been a huge part of UIC's turnaround since transferring from UCF in September. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound senior is a big factor at the defensive end and also adds just under 10 ppg.
Cleveland State was ice cold from long distance versus Valpo, connecting on just 1-of-18 3-point attempts in the 24-point setback. Luda Ndaye tallied 15 points off the bench, followed by Bryn Forbes with 12 as he knocked down all six of his attempts at the free-throw line for the Vikings. The team has not been the same since sophomore forward and leading scorer Anton Grady was lost to a knee injury. Charlie Lee is the only active player on the roster netting double-figures with 12.3 ppg, which accompanies his 4.7 apg. Forbes (9.9 ppg) and Tim Kamczyc (9.3 ppg) are both capable of putting points on the board, but neither is shooting better than 39 percent from the field .
Even on their own court, the Vikings are in serious danger of having their recent run of success against the Flames come to an end. UIC is not playing quite as well as it did earlier this season, but it has a chance to make a statement against one of the teams that bullied it to the basement of the Horizon League.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 67, Cleveland State 62
01/07 10:33:11 ET