Illinois-Chicago (3-5) at Loyola-Chicago (3-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentile Arena (4,486) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: CSN-CHI. Home Record: UIC 1-4, Loyola 2-0. Away Record: UIC 0-0, Loyola 0-4. Neutral Record: UIC 2-1, Loyola 0-0. Conference Record: UIC 0-0, Loyola 1-1. Series Record: Illinois-Chicago leads, 31-19.
GAME NOTES: Windy City rivals collide at Gentile Arena on Saturday afternoon, as the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers tip off a season-long, three-game homestand versus the Illinois-Chicago Flames.
After a solid showing in last week's Gulf Coast Showcase, registering two wins in three days against San Diego (74-70) and Wagner (94-76), UIC returned home on Wednesday night only to lose to SMU, 73-65. The Flames are just 3-5 on the season, and despite trekking just a few miles across town, this will be their first true road game.
Loyola is off to a similarly disappointing start, as it has also won just three of its first eight matchups this season. The Ramblers most recently dropped a hard-fought battle at Mississippi State on Sunday, 65-64, in overtime, but the good news is that it has won both of its contests at Gentile Arena.
After 50 all-time meetings in the series, UIC has a 31-19 advantage, although Loyola has won six of the last eight. These squads were once Horizon League foes, but the Ramblers are now members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
UIC didn't give itself much of a chance to knock off SMU the last time out thanks to a poor 35.1 percent shooting effort, and it was especially cold from 3-point range (8-of-28). Despite the lackluster team effort, Kelsey Barlow shined once again with 31 points on 8-of-18 efficiency from the floor and 12- of-15 from the free-throw line, and he has now scored 69 points over the last two games. Barlow was a one-man show, however, as no one else scored in double figures. On the season, the Flames score 72.6 points per game, but they cannot keep their opponents off the scoreboard, as they allow 78.4 points on nearly 49 percent from the field. Barlow's red-hot play of late has allowed his scoring average to jump to 17.4 points per game, doing a large chuck of his damage from 3-point range (18-of-44). Marc Brown is also off to a decent start, scoring 12.9 points per game on 46.6 percent from the floor.
In a game that featured 13 ties and 20 lead changes, Loyola was able to force an overtime period with 1:09 left in regulation against Mississippi State on a Milton Doyle 3-pointer, but after it fell behind in the extra session, Doyle could not connect on the potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer. The squad shot a modest 42.6 percent from the field in the setback, and its biggest downfall came in losing the turnover battle, 14-9. Doyle did everything for his team but win it the game, as he finished with 22 points, while Christian Thomas and Devon Turk added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Points have come at a premium for the Ramblers this season, as they score only 68.5 points per game despite shooting a solid 47.2 percent from the field. Doyle, despite making fewer than 40 percent of his total shots, leads the team with 14.4 points per game. Thomas (13.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is a mainstay in the frontcourt, while Jeff White brings 12.8 points per game to the table.
These long-time rivals will be eager to post a victory and earn hometown bragging rights, but while Barlow has been on fire for UIC, the Ramblers get the edge in this one thanks to their stingy defense and the home court advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Chicago 68, Illinois-Chicago 66
12/07 10:36:55 ET