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Inside-out combo lifts Flames

MAYO, VANDERMEER HELP UIC SNAP SLIDE

February 1, 2008

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UIC’s Josh Mayo scored 29 points and surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career.

UIC stole a page from Cleveland State’s book in gaining a key Horizon League victory on Thursday night.

The Flames used aggressiveness and intensity on defense, plus a solid 1-2 punch on offense to pull out a 74-68 win over the Vikings at the UIC Pavilion.

UIC (11-10, 5-5) was pushed around in its 68-51 loss in Cleveland on Jan. 5. The Flames turned the tables and held CSU (14-8, 7-3) to 43 percent shooting.

“I was pleased with the way we competed,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “I was pleased with the way we scrapped and hustled with them. I was pleased with our intensity.”

Collins said the team discussed what they saw while they were reviewing tape for the Vikings.

“We knew we had to be tougher,” Collins said. “We knew we were capable of that. We saw that on tape.”

Offensively, the Flames got solid efforts from juniors Josh Mayo and Scott VanderMeer.

VanderMeer scored the Flames’ first six points and finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.

The 7-foot center credited his backcourt mates with setting him up.

“I’m getting more post touches,” VanderMeer said. “The guards were driving and dishing it to me for the easy layups. They penetrated and I got into position underneath for the shot.”

VanderMeer’s early punch opened up Mayo on the perimeter.

Mayo finished with a game-high 29 points on 9-for-11 shooting. The nation’s leader in three-point field-goal percentage made 4 of 5 from beyond the arc and in the process became the 19th Flame to reach 1,000-point mark for a career.

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Cleveland State coach Gary Waters wasn’t pleased with the stat sheet during the postgame press conference.

“We didn’t shut down Mayo,” CSU coach Gary Waters said. “He went for 29, and there’s no way we’re going to beat them in this house like that.

“We were in his face. He just hit some big shots. He was the best player on the floor.”

UIC grabbed an early 8-2 lead, but the Vikings stormed back with an 11-1 run, which included seven points by speedy reserve guard Joe Davis.

The Vikings led by as many as six points and took a 31-27 lead into halftime.

The Flames started the second half on a 12-2 burst. Sophomore Spencer Stewart nailed a three-pointer – his first basket since returning from his hand injury – to give UIC a 32-31 lead with 18:41 left.

“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Waters said. “We had a chance to extend it to about a 10-point lead. I thought we let them off the hook. In the second half, [UIC was] ready to go. They threw the first punch and we didn’t respond.”

The Flames never trailed again. UIC extended its lead to 39-33 after Karl White Jr. hit a leaner and then whipped a nice pass to Jeremy Buttell for an easy layup.

CSU pulled within 43-42 on Cedric Jackson’s jumper with 9:44 to play, but the Flames maintained the lead thanks to Mayo, who hit threes on two consecutive possessions to give UIC a 53-46 advantage with 6:56 remaining.

“I hard to work for every bucket,” said Mayo, referring to CSU’s tough defense. “They do a lot of grabbing and holding. I just let the game come to me and just knocked down the shots.”

Jermaine Dailey scored on a leaner and converted a three-point play for a 61-53 edge with 3:55 left.

The Vikings climbed back to within three at 65-62 after J’Nathan Bullock scored on a layup after a stolen inbounds pass. With CSU pressing again, Mayo broke free for a layup on a runout for five-point advantage.

UIC made 7-for-10 from the free-throw line in the final minute to close out the win.

White joined Mayo and VanderMeer in double figures, scoring 11 points off the bench. Senior Robert Bush grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds for the Flames, which snapped a two-game home losing streak to CSU.

The Flames shot 51 percent for the game and made 37 trips to the free-throw line (making 23) to CSU’s 18.

“We were a little more prepared for them,” Mayo said. “They embarrassed us last time. We cleaned up on some of the little things.”

Davis led the Vikings with 27 points – CSU’s only double-figure scorer. Jackson, who has injected the Vikings with a strong dose of intensity, added eight points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

“We did a pretty good job defensively,” Collins said. “We played some man-to-man, we played some zone, we also doubled on ball-handlers. The main thing is that we played with more intensity.

“They came together and decided that ‘we’re better than this.’ ”

FLAMES FLICKERS: Mayo moved into 18th place on UIC’s all-time scoring list, passing Brian Wilson, who had 1,015 points from 1981-85. Mayo now has 1,027 career points. In striking distance are Larry Frey (1,048), Craig Lathen (1,062), Bobby Locke (1,067) and Jordan Kardos (1,114). …

UIC tied a Pavilion record with 11 blocked shots. VanderMeer led the charge with five, Buttell and Dailey each had two and White and Jovan Ignjatovic each recorded one. …

The Flames used 10 players for the time in the calendar year. Ignjatovic made his first appearance since having the flu a couple of weeks ago. The redshirt sophomore forward recorded two rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot in six minutes. He also altered another shot. …

UIC won its Horizon League-best ninth home game of the season. The Flames are now 9-1. Butler is the only undefeated team in the league at home at 8-0. …

Former Flames star Cedrick Banks and former UIC assistant coach and radio announcer Dick Nagy were in attendance. …

Mayo appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times’ Sunday Drive feature in the sports section. The piece mentioned Mayo’s three-point shooting exploits. …

Former Flames forward Justin Bowen, who now plays for Austin of the NBA D-League, was in a group photograph that appeared in Sports Illustrated taken from the recent D-League Showcase.

UP NEXT: The Flames host Youngstown State on Saturday night.

The Penguins (7-14, 3-8) have lost five straight and seven of their last eight contests. YSU dropped a heartbreaker to Loyola 69-68 at the Gentile Center on Thursday night when the Ramblers’ Tracy Robinson hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

UIC will be looking for revenge after YSU took an 80-68 victory on Jan. 3 at the Beeghly Center. Freshman Vytas Sulskis scored a season-high 26 points and John Barber added 24 for the Penguins.

Guard Byron Davis leads YSU at 15.0 points per game.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. on Saturday from the UIC Pavilion. Coverage is available with video streaming available on the Horizon League Network and audio with Adam Levinsonwill be on WIND-AM 560.

In other recent news:
Freshman boosts Bulldogs past Flames (at Butler) (1/27/08)
UIC lets road win slip away at Valpo (Stewart retruns) (1/25/08)
Mayo, Flames three-mendous (Valpo preview) (1/24/08)
Balance helps Flames bounce back (vs. Detroit) (1/20/08)
Perfect home record suffers Brown-out (vs. Wright State) (1/18/08)
Finding success halfway around the world (A. Williams, Bowen, Dailey) (1/16/08)
White, Mayo help Flames secure double-OT win (vs. Loyola) (1/13/08)
With Ramblers on horizon, Flames making tweaks (plus Stewart update) (1/11/08)
Flames extinguished in Cleveland (plus Bowen update) (1/6/08)
Flames sleepwalk in Youngstown (1/4/08)