Northwestern (1-2) at Illinois-Chicago (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 20, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: UIC Pavilion (6,958) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: Comcast Sports Net Chicago. Home Record: NU 1-1, UIC 1-2. Away Record: NU 0-1, UIC 0-0. Neutral Record: NU 0-0, UIC 0-0. Conference Record: NU 0-0, UIC 0-0. Series Record: Illinois-Chicago leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will try to end their two-game losing streak as they venture into the Windy City to take on the Illinois-Chicago Flames at UIC Pavilion.
Chris Collins picked up a win in its head coaching debut as his Wildcats were impressive on both ends en route to a 17-point win over Eastern Illinois. Northwestern has not been able to put together a solid performance for 40 minutes in its two games since and as a result, fell on the road to Stanford by 13 points and at home to Illinois State by four. The Wildcats fell behind the Redbirds by 18 points by halftime on Friday before dominating the final 20 minutes. However, ISU came up with just enough big plays to keep Northwestern at bay.
UIC is 1-2 after dropping a 20-point decision at home to the same Eastern Illinois squad the visitors pummeled in their season opener. The Flames have gone 0-2 versus Division I foes, while averaging only 62.5 ppg in those contests. They fell behind by 17 points to the Panthers in their last outing and managed to cut the deficit down to six points in the second stanza, but the Panthers knocked down 9-of-14 tries from behind the 3-point line to pull away.
This will be the eighth meeting in history between these instate rivals. UIC has won the last four to take a 4-3 all-time series lead. The Flames managed to escape their trip to Evanston on Dec. 1, 2012 with a 50-44 decision and won they only meeting between the two schools at UIC Pavilion by 19 points in 2003.
The Wildcats will be a very tough team this season if they can locate a third scorer to complement the duo of Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb. Crawford has posted 17.7 points and eight rebounds per outing to pace the squad while Cobb is netting 15.7 points and four assists per game. The talented wings are combining for more than 50 percent of the team's scoring. Collins found a couple of capable players on his bench versus the Redbirds as Tre Demps contributed 12 points and Kale Abrahamson tallied eight. Both Demps and Abrahamson will see more action if the play of Sanjay Lumpkin and Alex Olah does not improve in a hurry.
Coach Howard Moore had his most impressive season at UIC in 2012-13 as he guided the program to an 18-16 overall finish and took the program to the second round of the CIT. The Flames had gone 15-46 in his first two years at the helm of the program. Although Marc Brown is the current leader among Horizon League Players in scoring with an average of 21.7 ppg on 62 percent shooting from the field, Moore does not have too much offensive firepower around him, which will make improving on last season nearly impossible. UIC has a solid point guard in Kelsey Barlow, who is netting 11.3 points and a HL leading 6.3 apg.
The Wildcats' slow start will give them plenty of motivation to come out and make a statement that they are not going to be a door mat in the Big Ten this season. They were outstanding on both ends in the second half versus the Redbirds, who hit some very difficult shots to prevent a comeback. UIC does not have enough players capable of sinking contested jumpers, therefore Northwestern should have no problem evening the all-time series.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 71, Illinois-Chicago 60
11/20 10:35:57 ET