Milwaukee (17-12) at Illinois-Chicago (8-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 23rd, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (8,000) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Milwaukee 12-3, UIC 7-5. Away Record: Milwaukee 5-9, UIC 1-14. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 0-0, UIC 0-0. Conference Record: Milwaukee 9-7, UIC 3-13. Series Record: Milwaukee leads, 35-22.
GAME NOTES: The Milwaukee Panthers try to win their third straight game tonight when they face the Illinois-Chicago Flames at UIC Pavilion in the next-to-last games for each team as the Horizon League Tournament quickly approaches.
Milwaukee is enjoying an impressive season at 17-12 overall and has a 9-7 record in conference, but the team is still in fifth place in the Horizon League standings. While it doesn't look likely to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament, it still has the opportunity to improve its standing over the next two games. The Panthers won their latest outings last Saturday, beating Fairfield, 67-63, as part of the annual BracketBusters event.
UIC has not been as fortunate this season, winning less than half as many games as Milwaukee overall (8-19), and it currently sits in ninth place in the Horizon League standings with a 3-13 conference record. The Flames have lost four of their last five games, including a blowout at the hands of Butler on Tuesday, 69-44.
Milwaukee has won eight in a row over UIC and now leads the all-time series, 35-22.
After building a 14-point lead at the half on Saturday, Milwaukee allowed Fairfield to climb back in the game late but ultimately prevailed by shooting 48 percent from the floor and holding the Stags to 39.3 percent overall efficiency and 4-of-19 from three-point range. The Panthers were led by a pair of impressive performances from Paris Gulley (19 points) and Tony Meier (18 points), who both drained three three-pointers. Kaylon Williams added 10 assists in the win, adding to his league-best 6.4 apg. The Phoenix has a less- than-stellar offense on the season, netting 63.6 ppg on 41.4 percent field goal shooting. They aren't led by much star power but instead rely on a balanced attack with guys like Williams (10.8 ppg), James Haarsma (10.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Meier (10.4 pg, 4.8 rpg) all contributing. Milwaukee is one of the better rebounding teams in the HL, laying claim to a +1.3 margin on the boards.
UIC has an even worse offense than Milwaukee, averaging just 61 ppg on a league-worst 39.8 percent field goal efficiency. The anemic offensive attack continued in Tuesday's embarrassing loss to Butler as the Flames shot just 32.7 percent from the field, 2-of-11 from three-point range, and scored fewer than 50 points for the third time this season. Gary Talton tallied 13 points and Darrin Williams added 11 in the defeat, but the rest roster combined for only 20 points. Talton (12 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg) and Daniel Barnes (10.9 ppg, 2.3 three-pointers per game) are the Flames' most consistent performers, though both shoot worse than 40 percent from the floor. In addition to poor shooting, UIC also gives up the highest field goal percentage to its opponents in the conference (.454).
UIC has put together a winning record at home this season, so it won't be as easy a task for Milwaukee as it seems on paper. Still, the Flames are playing too poorly of late to pull off the upset here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Milwaukee 68, Illinois-Chicago 61
02/23 10:37:15 ET