Eastern Michigan (6-2) at Illinois-Chicago (8-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 15, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (9,000) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: Comcast Sports Net Chicago. Home Record: EMU 6-0, UIC 4-0. Away Record: EMU 0-2, UIC 2-0. Neutral Record: EMU 0-0, UIC 2-1. Conference Record: EMU 0-0, UIC 0-0. Series Record: Eastern Michigan leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois-Chicago Flames will try to keep the fire burning when the Eastern Michigan Eagles visit the UIC Pavilion for a non-conference duel on Saturday.
Rob Murphy's Eagles outlasted Purdue for a 47-44 home victory their last time out to improve to 6-2 on the season. Both of EMU's losses came on the road at Jacksonville State and Syracuse, and it has still yet to pick up a win away from home. The Eagles prefer a slow paced tempo which has led to an average of 58.4 points per contest, which is 2.9 ppg more than its opposition is averaging. EMU has limited its foes to 36.9 percent shooting from the floor through eight games.
Since dropping a 66-59 decision to New Mexico in its second game of the year, UIC has reeled off seven consecutive wins to build an impressive 8-1 record. Coach Howard Moore's team refuses to be intimidated despite finishing last season with an 8-22 overall mark. The Flames have taken down Iona (86-81), Northwestern (50-44), and most recently, Colorado State (64-55) during their current winning streak. UIC has four players entering Saturday with double- figure scoring averages and a team average of 63.9 ppg. The Flames are excellent on the defensive end of the floor as their opponents are netting just 52 ppg on 35.3 percent shooting.
The Flames and Eagles have gone head-to-head four times in the sport of men's basketball, with EMU winning all those games by an average of 10.3 points per contest. The Eagles outlasted UIC in the 2011-12 season opener, 68-57 at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Despite being dominated on the boards by Purdue (51-33), the Eagles managed to take down the Big Ten program by converting 18 turnovers into 12 points and limiting the Boilermakers under 30 percent shooting from the floor. Senior guard Derek Thompson scored a team-high eight points for EMU, which used a total team effort to power the win. EMU had 10 different players score and register at least 12 minutes. Thompson is the team's leading scorer with 12.9 ppg while Daylen Harrison (11.4 ppg) and Glenn Bryant (10.5 ppg) also carry double-digit averages. Center Da'Shonte Riley is a big reason for the Eagles' excellent defense as he has blocked 23 shots and altered many more.
The Flames were also impressive defensively their last time out, as Colorado State connected on only 33.3 percent of its attempts from the floor and committed 15 turnovers in the contest. Meanwhile, UIC hit 38 percent of its field goal tries and outscored the visitors 19-13 at the charity stripe to pick up another impressive victory. Senior guard Gary Talton scored a team- high 20 points and dealt out five assists. Talton is leading the team with 13.1 ppg while Hayden Humes (12.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Daniel Barnes (11.1 ppg, 22 made 3PT FGs), and Josh Crittle (10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are making a difference as well.
The Eagles' triumph over Purdue was uplifting, but the game changes a great deal away from home. UIC's ability to frustrate opponents on both ends of the floor will push it past EMU. The last time UIC won eight-consecutive games was during the 1997-98 campaign.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 55, Eastern Michigan 46
12/15 10:33:10 ET