Illinois-Chicago (14-9) at Valparaiso (17-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 5, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: UIC 9-2, Valpo 11-1. Away Record: UIC 3-6, Valpo 6-5. Neutral Record: UIC 2-1, Valpo 0-0. Conference Record: UIC 5-5, Valpo 7-2. Series Record: Illinois-Chicago leads, 29-16.
GAME NOTES: The top team in the Horizon League takes the floor at home on Tuesday night, as the Valparaiso Crusaders entertain the Flames of Illinois- Chicago.
Valparaiso, which has the best overall record of any program in the Horizon entering the week with a 17-6 record, has posted seven wins in nine league opportunities. The Crusaders have won seven of the last eight outings thanks to a crushing 71-40 victory over Milwaukee last Friday night at home. The win was the 11th in 12 chances at the Athletics-Recreation Center this season.
As for the Flames, they had a three-game win streak snapped on Saturday by Cleveland State in a 77-66 final. The defeat brings UIC to an even 5-5 in conference play, moving them to sixth place in the standings.
The Crusaders won the first meeting of the season last month by a score of 75-70 on the road as Ryan Broekhoff registered a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, helping the visitors overcome 15 turnovers. Despite the victory, Valpo still trails in the all-time series with the Flames by a count of 29-16.
UIC fell behind Cleveland State immediately the last time out and trailed the entire way, by as many as 22 points, before bowing in the 11-point final. Gary Talton scored a team-best 16 points, followed by Daniel Barnes with 14 off the bench as the team shot just 37.5 percent from the floor. Hayden Humes responded with 12 points and five assists, while Josh Crittle accounted for 11 points, but shot just 3-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 at the free-throw line. Although he has made just 38.8 percent of his field goal tries, Talton is still the leading scorer for the Flames with his 13.3 ppg, not to mention the best passer with 89 assists. Barnes (10.9 ppg) paces the group on the glass with 5.5 rpg, but even though he spends much of his time in the paint, he too is shooting under 39.0 percent from the floor, which is where the team is overall through 23 games.
Shooting 53.8 percent from the floor in the first half, the Crusaders slowly built a double-digit lead against Milwaukee last week and then cruised to the comfortable win by hitting 59.1 percent after intermission. While Valpo converted just 6-of-13 at the free-throw line, the team made up for it with 11-of-21 accuracy beyond the arc, as Will Bogan and Ben Boggs combined to make 6-of-8 out on the perimeter en route to 12 points apiece. Broekhoff checked in with 11 points and seven rebounds, but he missed five of his seven chances out on the perimeter. Playing more minutes than anyone else on the team, Broekhoff leads the way in scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.4 rpg), and he is also the top long-range threat for the Crusaders with 57-of-129 (.442) shooting behind the 3-point line at this stage of the campaign. Kevin Van Wijk (13.1 ppg) is also key to the group outscoring the competition by more than nine points per contest.
Valpo has dominated at home so far this season and with this being a crucial league outing, there's no reason for the team to let up now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 72, Illinois-Chicago 63
02/05 10:31:50 ET