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Loyola-Chicago (10-6) at Illinois-Chicago (10-7)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 8 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (8,000) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: HLN. Home Record: Loyola 5-2, UIC 6-1. Away Record: Loyola 4-3, UIC 2-5. Neutral Record: Loyola 1-1, UIC 2-1. Conference Record: Loyola 1-3, UIC 1-3. Series Record: Illinois-Chicago leads, 30-18.

GAME NOTES: The Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago try to avoid losing their fourth straight games on Wednesday night, as they tangle with the Flames of Illinois- Chicago in Horizon League action at UIC Pavilion.

Since defeating Valparaiso (63-54) back on Jan. 2, a victory that gave the Ramblers a fourth win in a row and their eighth in nine tries, they've hit the skids. Granted, Loyola has dropped two of their most recent games by a combined three points, but a loss is a loss nonetheless.

Last Friday, the Ramblers were taken out by Wright State on their home floor in a 62-61 final, which means Loyola is now just 1-3 in conference play, which is also where UIC stands as well.

The Flames are a solid 6-1 in their own building this season, but that's because the team was a perfect 5-0 in non-conference matchups. More recently the team has come out on the losing side of far too many contests, three straight and six of the last seven to be exact. Last Saturday, the team was held to a season-low 47 points in a six-point road loss at Green Bay.

The Flames have a 30-18 advantage in the all-time series between the two clubs, although the Ramblers have won five of the last six encounters.

Ahead by two points with more than two minutes remaining in regulation, the Ramblers fell behind on a 3-pointer at the 1:35 mark, which means they had plenty of time and opportunity to fight back, but never made the move. One of three players to score in double figures for Loyola, Christian Thomas recorded a double-double with 13 points and a team-best 11 rebounds, while Ben Averkamp and Devon Turk chimed in with 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the losing cause. Not an offensive powerhouse by any means, the Ramblers are scoring a mere 62.4 ppg this season, but at least that's still better than the 58.5 ppg allowed to the competition through 16 games. Averkamp gives the team their best chance at winning as he averages 15.1 ppg and is also first on the team with 6.4 rpg and 23 blocked shots.

Shooting just 8-of-28 (.286) from the floor in the first half on Saturday, the Flames had to consider themselves lucky to be tied at that break, but even though they improved in the second half they still suffered the road loss. Gary Talton emerged as the lone double-digit scorer for the visitors with 11 points, shooting 3-of-5 behind the 3-point line, which means the rest of the team connected on only 4-of-18 (.286) out on the perimeter. Sporting the same starting lineup for all but one of 17 games, it only makes sense that the four that have been there in every game are the ones scoring in double figures, led by Talton with his 13.1 ppg. Daniel Barnes (11.6 ppg), Hayden Humes (110.1 ppg) and Josh Crittle (10.1 ppg) have accounted for a good portion of the unit's 62.4 ppg, and have also combined for close to 20 rpg as well.

As long as the Flames can spread the wealth and get several of the starters in on the action at the offensive end, this is certainly a game that the hosts should be able to capture.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 67, Loyola-Chicago 62

01/16 10:34:56 ET