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Loyola awaits UIC for Round 3


March 6, 2008

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Josh Mayo knows the Flames will be in for a battle against Loyola.

As is customary, everyone expects Friday night’s UIC-Loyola game to be yet another dogfight between the two schools.

The Flames and the Ramblers are meeting for the fourth time in the last seven years in the Horizon League tournament. This time, the scene is historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Each team is seeking a measure of revenge against the other as UIC wants to avenge a postseason loss from last year’s tournament, while Loyola wants to erase memories of being swept by the Flames in the regular season.

“It’s going to be tough,” UIC junior guard Josh Mayo said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times [in a season]. We’re looking for a little payback from last year, so we’re going to go out there and play with a lot of energy.”

The Flames won 68-58 in double overtime at the Pavilion on Jan. 12 and emerged with a 60-55 victory at the Gentile Center on Feb. 9.

“It’s only tough if you let yourself think it’s tough,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “We have to forget about what happens in the past, and we have to realize we’re playing for the [trophy] now.”

Twelve of the last 15 meetings have been decided by seven points or less, and three of those games went into overtime.

UIC (17-14) hopes to work inside-out against the Ramblers. The Flames shoot 40 percent from three-point range, but lately have opted for pounding the ball down to 7-foot center Scott VanderMeer. With the Ramblers have more able bodies down low than teams like Milwaukee and Youngstown State, it could be more difficult for VanderMeer.

Defensively, the Flames will likely throw their 2-3 zone at Loyola and dare the Ramblers to beat them with three-pointers. Loyola shoots just 28 percent from three-point range.

The Ramblers’ secret weapon in this meeting could be 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Ross Forman, who only played five minutes in the previous two meetings with the Flames. Forman has the ability to shoot it from the outside and score in the paint.

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Junior guard J.R. Blount will be a key factor for the Ramblers.

Slowing down junior guard J.R. Blount will also be a point of emphasis for UIC. Blount leads the Ramblers (12-18), averaging 15.4 points and 2.7 assists per game. He doesn’t shoot it particularly well, but he can create some havoc with his penetrating ability.

If junior forward Leon Young is healthy, he can give the Flames some fits with his intense inside play. However, Young has missed 10 of Loyola’s last 18 games with various ailments, including Tuesday night’s 57-51 win at Milwaukee.

Mayo, who tops the Flames at 17.5 points per game, has slumped a little of late because of fatigue, but he was 4-for-7 in Tuesday’s win over Youngstown State.

For the Flames to defeat their crosstown rivals and continue their journey in this tournament, they will need to clean up their sloppy play. UIC turned the ball over 19 times against the Penguins and Collins let the team in on dissatisfaction after Tuesday’s contest.

“We know that we didn’t play to the best of our abilities,” said senior swingman Robert Bush, who had 14 points on Tuesday. “We need to take care of the ball, be stronger with the ball. We could play way better than we displayed tonight.”

“We can’t beat other teams in this league if we play like this, especially Loyola,” VanderMeer added.

The game will tip off probably a little after 7 p.m., following the Wright State-Valparaiso quarterfinal game on Friday at Hinkle Fieldhouse with video streaming available on the Horizon League Network.

PAST HORIZON LEAGUE TOURNAMENT MEETINGS: UIC edged Loyola 76-75 in overtime in the 2002 championship game in Cleveland. Cedrick Banks hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds of overtime. The Ramblers’ David Bailey led all scorers with 35 points in game that featured 11 ties and 17 lead changes. …

In the 2005 quarterfinals in Milwaukee, the Ramblers defeated the Flames 87-81 in overtime as Blake Schilb scored 39 points, including nine of Loyola’s 15 in the extra session. Banks had 22 points in his last college game for UIC. …

In last season’s quarterfinals, Schilb struck again, scoring 31 points as Loyola nipped UIC 66-62 at the Nutter Center in Dayton. The Flames trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half before Othyus Jeffers helped to pull the Flames within two before Schilb hit a critical three-point play with 10.8 seconds left. Jeffers had 14 points and Mayo added 13 for UIC.



#3 Wright State 60, #10 Detroit 37

#6 Valparaiso 75, #7 Green Bay 67

#4 UIC 70, #9 Youngstown State 59

#8 Loyola 57, #5 Milwaukee 51


#3 Wright State (21-9) vs. #6 Valparaiso (20-12), 5

#4 UIC (17-14) vs. #8 Loyola (11-18), 7


WSU/Valpo vs. #2 Cleveland State (20-11), 3:30

UIC/Loyola vs. #1 Butler (27-3), 5:30


At highest remaining seed, 8

All times Central

In other recent news:
HORIZON TOURNEY: Balance boosts Flames past YSU (3/5/08)
Mayo, VanderMeer receive Horizon honors (3/4/08)
VanderMeer lifts Flames to No. 4 seed (at Milwaukee) (3/2/08)
UIC's last-second loss puts home game in peril (at Green Bay) (2/29/08)
Bush leads Flames' balanced attack (at N. Iowa) (2/24/08)
Three spree helps Butler escape UIC (2/21/08)
Raiders steal victory from Flames (at Wight State) (2/17/08)
Bad night for Flames, Goode for Titans (at Detroit) (2/15/08)
Stewart helps put Flames in cruise control (vs. Valpo) (2/12/08)