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Road still unkind to Flames

UIC RALLY FALLS JUST SHORT

January 10, 2010

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Jeremy Buttell scored 22 points to lead UIC.

UIC took a 16-point deficit and cut it to three in just over three minutes, but the Flames couldn’t quite finish in a 70-63 loss to Cleveland State at the Wolstein Center on Saturday.

Senior Jeremy Buttell posted his second consecutive strong showing, scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds, but the Flames (5-11, 1-5 Horizon League) dropped to 0-9 on the road.

Chicago native Jeremy Montgomery scored 17 points to lead four players in double figures for the Vikings (7-10, 3-2). Norris Cole and D’Aundray Brown contributed 13 points and Trevon Harmon added 12 points.

It was a seesaw game that seemed to be over after CSU went on a 10-0 run to take a 65-49 lead with 4:01 remaining, but the Flames went on a closing kick to put a major scare into the hosts.

Chris Buchanan scored six points in a 14-1 run, including a three-point play with 51.4 seconds left, to cut the deficit to 66-63. However, the Flames didn’t get a crucial stop in the final minute as Brown and Montgomery each hit a pair of free throws to close the scoring.

“I am pleased with some of the progress that we have made,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “Any time that you go against a Gary Waters team, it is tough. They get loose balls, play defense and are just a tough team to play. We went out and played hard tonight and made progress with our offense and defense.”

The game had enough peaks and valleys for an entire season.

CSU opened the game with a quick 8-0 spurt, forcing Collins to call an early timeout.

The Flames roared back with a 15-2 run, which featured eight points by point guard Spencer Stewart, for a 30-22 UIC advantage with 3:16 left in the first half.

The Vikings responded with three three-pointers in an 11-3 run to close the half and tie the game at 33-33.

CSU forged ahead 41-35 after Cole hit a three-pointer with 17:48 left in the contest, but Zavion Neely hit a layup to cap a 6-0 burst that re-tied the game at 41-41. However, the Vikings grabbed control again until the Flames made it close in the final minute.

Stewart finished with 11 points and six assists, but he also had six turnovers for the Flames. Neely tallied 10 points and Brad Birton added eight points and three steals.

Junior guard Robo Kreps was limited to two shot attempts in 29 minutes as he was playing with an injured left shoulder. Kreps had just four points and did not play down the stretch.

“We wanted to get Kreps in the game in the beginning although he has an injury just to see how he plays and responds,” Collins said. “We didn't keep him in long because we still have a lot of basketball to play this season. Tonight he pulled defenders off other players which allowed them to make plays, because when Kreps is on the floor you have to guard him.”

FLAMES FLICKERS: UIC had 17 turnovers and CSU had 21. … Both teams shot it well: UIC was 46 percent and CSU hit 51 percent. … Kreps extended his consecutive free throw streak to 31. … UIC’s home game against CSU on Feb. 4 was added this past week to Comcast SportsNet’s schedule.

UP NEXT: UIC hosts Loyola at the Pavilion on Friday night. Tip time is 8 p.m. with TV coverage on ESPNU. UIC’s radio broadcast will air on a tape-delayed basis following Bulls basketball. Loyola radio is available on WNTD-AM 950, WAUR-AM 930 and WLUW-FM 88.7.

In other recent news:
Buttell's big night can't save UIC (at Youngstown St.) (1/8/10)
Flames look listless, lost (vs. Wright St.) (1/3/10)
Kreps gets free ride as Flames beat Titans (vs. Detroit) (12/31/09)
Neely flips switch, Flames burn Rockets (vs. Toledo) (12/30/09)
Coal in Flames’ stockings (at Wisconsin) (12/28/09)
Zips dominate boards, extinguish Flames (at Akron) (12/22/09)
Flames take bite out of Huskies (vs. NIU) (12/20/09)
Kreps finishes off Flames' comeback (vs. Oregon St.) (12/17/09)
Flames Sunday schooled (at DePaul) (12/14/09)