Illinois-Chicago (5-19) at Cleveland State (17-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 13, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
ACTS & STATS: Site: Wolstein Center (8,500) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: UIC 2-9, CSU 9-2. Away Record: UIC 1-8, CSU 8-7. Neutral Record: UIC 2-2, CSU 0-0. Conference Record: UIC 0-10, CSU 8-3. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 42-33.
GAME NOTES: The red-hot Cleveland State Vikings will begin a four-game homestand on Thursday with a Horizon League battle against the Illinois- Chicago Flames.
Despite playing their last four games on the road, the Vikings have still won six straight. Cleveland State is now 17-9 overall and just a game behind Green Bay for first place in the Horizon League standings (8-3). The Vikings will get a chance to challenge the Phoenix next time out, as the teams meet in a critical matchup on Saturday.
Illinois-Chicago has had a miserable season, posting just five wins in 24 opportunities. The Flames are also winless in all 10 of their league bouts, while having dropped 13 straight games overall. They will end their current three-game road trip on Saturday against Youngstown State.
When UIC had hosting duties for the first meeting between these teams this season, it fell in a 74-64 decision. The Vikings have won 13 of the last 14 encounters to pull ahead in the all-time series, 42-33.
Jordan Harks tallied 17 points and 12 rebounds, but he didn't get enough support as UIC was set down by Green Bay, 81-70. UIC allowed the Phoenix to shoot 51 percent from the floor, while netting just 40.3 percent itself.
It is no secret that UIC has struggled on offense this season. The Flames are eighth in the Horizon League in scoring (67.8 ppg) and seventh in field goal percentage (.430). The poor offensive showings are coupled with some disappointing defensive efforts as well, as the Flames allow 73.6 ppg on 47.2 percent shooting. Kelsey Barlow (14.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) leads the team in both scoring and assists, but he is connecting on just 38.8 percent from the floor. Barlow's shot was particularly off against Green Bay, as he totaled seven points on just 2-of-12 field goal efficiency. Marc Brown (12.4 ppg) is the only other player averaging in double figures at the moment.
Charlie Lee scored a game-high 25 points and Anton Grady (15 points, 12 rebounds) logged a double-double during Cleveland State's 72-68 victory at Wright State last Saturday. The Vikings hit 53.3 percent of their total shots, including 8-of-15 from beyond the arc.
Efficient shooting has been critical for Cleveland State this season, as the Vikings lead the Horizon League and rank among the top-20 teams in the nation in field goal percentage (.484). They are particularly effective from 3-point range, from where they are shooting the best percentage nationally (.420). Bryn Forbes (16.2 ppg) is the leading scorer on a team that features five double-digit points producers. Also in the mix are Trey Lewis (13.4 ppg), Jon Harris (10.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Grady (10.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Lee (10 ppg).
Cleveland State already defeated UIC once this season. Now that the Vikings are at home, expect them to let it fly from 3-point range and run away with an even more decisive victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 78, Illinois-Chicago 63
02/13 10:32:53 ET