GAME NOTES: In the midst of a 10-game homestand, the Colorado State Rams entertain the Flames of Illinois-Chicago at Moby Arena on Monday night.
Illinois-Chicago is currently two games under .500 (5-7), and the team is coming off a heartbreaking 57-56 loss at UC Riverside on Friday. The setback stopped what had been a modest two-game win streak for the Flames, who are just 1-2 in true road games this season.
Colorado State has dropped two of its last three outings, and the squad has been idle since suffering an 80-70 setback to visiting Denver on Dec. 11. That marked only the second home loss for the Rams in nine opportunities this season, and this bout represents the eighth in their lengthy 10-game run in Fort Collins.
This contest marks only the second all-time meeting between UIC and CSU on the hardwood, and the Flames won the first in a 64-55 decision at home on Dec. 8, 2012.
Even though it's sporting a losing record at the moment, UIC's offensive numbers aren't terrible in that the team is averaging 72.5 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .439 overall and .336 from 3-point range. The Flames, who are just about dead even in terms of rebounding margin (-0.2), can stand to tighten things up at the defensive end however, as foes are generating 73.9 ppg in hitting 46.9 percent of their total shots, which includes a 38.0 percent showing from beyond the arc. Kelsey Barlow (16.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.8 apg) does it all for the UIC, as he is the team's top scorer, rebounder and playmaker, while also logging more made free throws (56) than his closest teammate has attempts (52). Marc Brown (12.7 ppg) is the only other player averaging double figures for the Flames, who knocked down only 39.3 percent of their field goal attempts, including a 4-of-15 effort from downtown, in last Friday's narrow loss at UC Riverside. Barlow scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Hayden Humes added 11 points, and Jordan Harks and Jake Wiegand chipped in with 10 apiece. A key stat in the game was the fact that UCR's reserves outscored UIC's, 23-10.
Scoring points has certainly not been a problem for Colorado State this season, as the team is putting up a healthy 80.1 ppg in draining 45.5 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 35.0 percent effort from 3-point land. The Rams, who boast three double-digit scorers in J.J. Avila (19.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.7 apg), Daniel Bejarano (13.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Jon Octeus (12.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.2 apg), own favorable margins in both rebounding (+6.3) and turnovers (+3.5), while permitting the opposition 71.1 ppg. Even though CSU lost to Denver in its most recent outing, the team put forth a balanced attack with Bejarano leading the way with a double-double consisting of 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Avila scored 16 and dished out six assists. Octeus and Joe De Ciman tallied 12 points apiece for the Rams, who shot 54.3 percent from the floor, but allowed the Pioneers to made more 3-pointers (nine) than they attempted themselves (eight).
Neither team is what anyone would consider a world-beater, but the Flames, despite the best effort of Barlow, are facing a tough task trying to top the Rams on their home court.
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