On a mission
With family in the house, Blount lifts Flames
By Mike Pankow
January 25, 2019
The junior from Cork, Ireland, was steamed about having to miss last Saturday's narrow loss at Green Bay due to a suspension by the Horizon League, plus his some of his family made the trip to Chicago to see him in person.
Blount showed the fire early and often, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds in UIC's 79-67 victory over Detroit Mercy at Credit Union 1 Arena on Thursday night.
Blount was issued a one-game suspension for violating the conference's "student-athlete sportsmanship principles," which likely stemmed from an incident in Milwaukee in the previous game.
"To be able to get back on the court was unbelievable especially with my family here from Ireland," Blount said. "Not being able to play with the guys in Green Bay in a game we could have/should have won definitely hurt."
Blount shot 6-for-9 from the field and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and also had three assists in one of his best all-around games of the season.
"I thought Jordan had a really nice game," UIC coach Steve McClain said. "He did a great job on the defensive glass. He did a great in the middle of the zone, scoring when he could and making great passes out of there. He had 10 rebounds and that's what we need out of him. He had a very solid night."
Blount was instrumental in the Flames' offensive attack against UDM's zone defense along with Rob Howard and Tarkus Ferguson. Howard finished with 11 points and while Ferguson didn't score a lot, he contributed eight rebounds and seven assists.
"We worked on it all week," Blount said. "We knew if got it into the spots, the high post and the short corner, we could make stuff happen. We executed the game plan."
UIC (10-11, 4-4 Horizon League) opened the game with nine straight points, but the Titans (8-12, 5-3) stormed back to within 14-11 behind freshman phenom Antoine Davis, son of UDM coach Mike Davis. Antoine Davis hit a 3-pointer to close the deficit to three with 13:07 left in the first half.
Then Blount stoked the Flames again, scoring on a layup to ignite a 26-5 run. Six different players scored during the burst and when sophomore Jamie Ahale drilled a 3-pointer, the Flames' lead bulged to 40-16 with 2:48 left in the first half.
The Flames settled for a 41-22 lead at the break after shooting 50 percent in the first half and holding UDM to 36 percent.
Howard hit a 3-pointer to put UIC up 48-29, but the Titans answered with an 11-0 run, which included eight points by Davis. During the run, Blount was called for an extremely questionable flagrant foul for supposedly holding the jersey of Gerald Blackshear.
Davis hit a spinning shot in the lane to cut the deficit to 48-40 with 15:08 remaining. He finished with a game-high 28 points, but the Flames always had a hand in his face and pretty much every shot he attempted was contested.
"There's no question he's such a talented guy," McClain said. "He can go right, go left, step back."
Davis entered the game second in the nation, averaging 27.2 points per game, and could be a candidate to go pro immediately after his freshman season. The Flames assigned junior guard Marcus Ottey as his primary defender, though Godwin Boahen and Michael Diggins also had their turns against him.
"He makes tough shots," said Ottey, who also finished with 14 points. "I've got to give him credit. I have a lot of respect for his game. We wanted to keep the ball out of his hands as much as we could."
The Titans made one last effort to finish off a comeback as Josh McFolley drained a 3-pointer and Davis made a pair from the line to cut the Flames' lead to 68-63 with 2:56 left.
Boahen, who had 13 points, countered with a huge 3 from the right wing and UIC never trailed by fewer than seven the rest of the way.
"We were playing a really good team tonight, a team that came in here at 5-2 (in the league), beating good teams and have won on the road. I thought our guys were really locked in." said McClain, also crediting the atmosphere from the crowd of 2,782. "When this building has the feel it had tonight, it makes it a tougher place (for opponents) to come in and win."
FLAMES FLICKERS: Ferguson scored just six points and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, marking only the second time all season he didn't hit a 3-point attempt. ... UIC was just 7-for-24 from 3-point range, a departure from its trend for most of the season as the Flames were able to diversify their offense. ... The Flames also had one of their better rebounding games of the season, beating the Titans 36-25 on the glass. ... Former UIC point guard and assistant coach Tracy Dildy returned home Thursday. He is in his first season as an assistant at UDM. ... Former Bulls guard Randy Brown and current Bulls forward Jabari Parker were courtside sitting next season-ticket holder and former Flame J.T. Wilson.