Cleveland State (10-12) at Illinois-Chicago (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (6,958) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: HLN. Home Record: Cleveland State 7-2. UIC 9-1. Away Record: Cleveland State 1-10, UIC 3-6. Neutral Record: Cleveland State 2-0, UIC 2-0. Conference Record: Cleveland State 2-6, UIC 5-4. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 38-33.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams headed in opposite directions square off on Saturday afternoon at UIC Pavilion when the Illinois-Chicago Flames host the Cleveland State Vikings in Horizon League action.
A 73-59 loss to Youngstown State last Saturday was the fourth straight defeat for Cleveland State. The recent rut the Vikings find themselves in has dropped them below .500 overall (10-12) this season as well as just 2-6 in league play. Hitting the road is unlikely to reverse the trend as the loss to the Penguins was the 10th in 11 away games for the Vikings who return home to host that same Youngstown State team on Tuesday.
Meanwhile UIC is riding a three-game winning streak into this contest after earning a 60-57 win in the first half of this two-game homestand against Green Bay. The Flames have enjoyed their share of success this season at 14-8 overall, while fighting to a 5-4 mark in league play. The Flames are 9-1 at home this season but they will play four straight on the road next beginning against league-leading Valparaiso.
These teams have already met once this season with Cleveland State picking up a 60-50 win in that matchup. The win was the 11th straight for the Vikings, who own a 38-33 edge in the all-time series.
After the Penguins got out to a 42-27 lead at halftime, Cleveland State was unable to turn things around. The Vikings were doubled up on points off turnovers (16-8) and trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half. Cleveland State was also outscored 21-5 from the free-throw line.
The Vikings have been posting meager efforts on the offensive end all season but especially during the recent losing streak. In the four losses, the Vikings have failed to reach above 60 points in each contest. Overall Cleveland State is scoring just 64 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. Defensively the Vikings are allowing 69.2 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting efficiency. Bryn Forbes (12.1 ppg) and Charlie Lee (10.7 ppg, 5.0 apg) are the lone players in double figures for the Vikings with Lee also managing to lead the conference in assists.
UIC found itself trailing for the first time in the second half, 57-54, with 1:41 remaining against Green Bay. However the Flames then ripped off a quick 6-0 run to close out the win over the Phoenix. Hayden Humes and Josh Crittle combined for 33 points in the contest with each coming a rebound shy of a double-double.
Like Cleveland State, UIC can't boast much in terms of offensive success. The Flames are scoring just 61 points per game, putting in 39 percent of their shots from the floor. However the Flames have been able to make up for their offensive struggles by tightening up on the defensive end. UIC is allowing just 59.2 points per game, as teams shoot a shade under 40 percent from the field (.396). Gary Talton (13.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.0 apg) is shooting less than 40 percent from the floor. Humes (10.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is the squad's leading rebounder while Daniel Barnes (10.8 ppg) and Josh Crittle (10.0 ppg) provide additional scoring support.
The recent offensive stumbles for Cleveland State are unlikely to stop against a UIC team that has handled teams on the defensive end. If the Flames can feed off their home crowd and put together a strong effort on offense they will avenge the earlier loss to the Vikings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 68, Cleveland State 62
02/02 10:46:08 ET