Cleveland State (11-9) at Illinois-Chicago (5-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 22, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (6,958) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: HLN. Home Record: CSU 8-2, UIC 2-7. Away Record: CSU 3-7, UIC 1-5. Neutral Record: CSU 0-0, UIC 2-2. Conference Record: CSU 3-3, UIC 0-5. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 41-33.
GAME NOTES: Attempting to put their eight-game losing streak in the rearview mirror, the Illinois-Chicago Flames will welcome the Cleveland State Vikings to UIC Pavilion on Wednesday night for Horizon League action.
Cleveland State has been wading in mediocrity for most of the season, as it sits at 11-9 overall and 3-3 in league play. The Vikings most recently suffered a 49-46 setback at home to Wright State on Sunday and now head back out on the road, where they've gone just 3-7.
UIC has not enjoyed a victory since taking down Purdue-Calumet back on Dec. 17, and its eight-game skid has included setbacks in each of its first five Horizon League bouts. The Flames have not had much solace at UIC Pavilion either (2-7) and began their current three-game homestand with tough losses to Milwaukee (67-63) and Green Bay (69-64).
Cleveland State had been winners of 12 straight in the all-time series before UIC won in the first round of last season's Horizon League Tournament, 82-59. The Vikings still lead the series by a 41-33 count.
The Vikings fell behind Wright State by as many as 13 midway through the second half, and while they climbed all the way back to make it just a three- point contest in the final minute, they ultimately fell short when Trey Lewis missed the potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. They shot a meager 32.7 percent from the field in the low-scoring affair (including 5-of-21 from 3-point range). Jon Harris led the way in a reserve role with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Bryn Forbes scored 14 points, and while Lewis shot a terrible 2- of-13 from the floor, he helped out with 10 rebounds.
It was a rare performance for Cleveland State, which outshoots its opponents from the field this season, 47.3 percent to 40.7 percent, scoring 73.8 ppg while allowing just 67.4 ppg. Forbes is the pace setter with 15.8 ppg, draining 2.5 3-pointers per game at a 41.7 percent clip while also posting a great free-throw percentage (.855). Lewis (13.7 ppg, 3.4 apg), Harris (10.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Anton Grady (10.3 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers, although Grady has missed the past two games.
The Flames appeared poised to snapped their losing streak in their most recent contest, as they held a lead over Green Bay for more than 14 minutes of the second half, but they fell victim to a late Phoenix run and finished on the wrong end of a five-point decision. They shot a modest 42.9 percent from the field on the afternoon but were hindered the most by their poor showing at the foul line (18-of-31). Pat Birt put up 13 points to lead the charge, while Jordan Harks added 11 points.
UIC's disappointing season record wise has been accurately portray its in stats, as its lackluster scoring offense (68.7 ppg) has not been strong enough to support its porous defense (73.2 ppg). Kelsey Barlow contributes all over the floor with 15.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.2 spg, but all that production comes at the detriment of his field goal percentage (.398). Marc Brown (12.9 ppg) is the only other player to average in double figures, although four others net between 6.1 and 7.4 ppg.
UIC has played tight battles in its last two home games, and expect much of the same in this one against a Cleveland State squad that has struggled so much on the road. In the end, the Flames are more likely to find a way to lose the game down the stretch than the other way around.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 70, Illinois-Chicago 67
01/22 10:39:53 ET