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Shakeup can’t end Flames’ slide

COLLINS TRIES 4-GUARD LINEUP, BUT NO LUCK

February 5, 2010

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Jeremy Buttell had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds against CSU.

Jimmy Collins reached into his bag of tricks to try to end UIC’s eight-game losing streak on Thursday night.

The Flames’ coach started a four-guard lineup in hopes to shake up his team’s fortunes, but visiting Cleveland State was just too much in a 74-63 victory at the Pavilion.

The Vikings (11-12, 7-4 Horizon League) used balance and sheer will to wear down the Flames.

Trevon Harmon led the way with 17 points. D’Aundray Brown had 15 points and nine rebounds and Norris Cole added 13 points and 10 assists. Jeremy Montgomery also contributed 13 points.

Collins started guard Robo Kreps, Zavion Neely, Spencer Stewart and Chris Buchanan along with forward Jeremy Buttell in part to match up with CSU’s smaller, athletic lineup.

“Cleveland State is a very quick, active team,” Collins said. “Going down the stretch, we want to get a little bit more activity, a little bit more movement. We haven’t had as much success in the post, other than Jeremy. We were just trying give ourselves another avenue to try to win a game.”

Buttell had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Neely also scored 17 points to lead UIC (5-17, 1-11), which lost its ninth straight — the longest skid during the school’s Division I tenure.

The Vikings grabbed a quick 14-5 lead and controlled most of the first half. CSU took a 44-29 lead into intermission.

The Flames showed some heart early in the second half, using a 14-4 run to close the gap to 48-43 with 14:11 left, thanks to seven points by Buttell.

“Even they haven’t won a lot of games, UIC still fights,” CSU coach Gary Waters said. “They’re not quitting.”

The Vikings responded with an 8-2 burst to rebuild a double-digit lead and UIC never pulled closer than seven points after that.

“I think we were a step slow and we didn’t have that real mean streak,” Collins said. “Losing really hurts, but I think these guys are still trying.”

CSU ripped the Flames’ hearts out in the final minutes as it chewed down almost 90 seconds after grabbing two offensive rebounds before Harmon drove the dagger with a layup for a 13-point advantage with 2:22 left.

“We’ve got to keep working,” Buttell said. “The coaches have been telling us all year that we’ve got to get tougher and we’ve got to continue to fight back.

“Everybody realizes that we need to get those long rebounds. We were getting outwilled and pushed around. They were beating us to the loose balls and the rebounds.”

Defensively, the Flames struggled, allowing the Vikings to shoot 59 percent in the first half and 53 percent for the game. CSU was very efficient with 22 assists to just 10 turnovers.

The Vikings also did a good job of keeping Kreps quiet. The Flames’ go-to-guy finished with 11 points — just two in the second half.

“Kreps has a quick shot, so you can’t really give him any breathing room,” Harmon said. “He can hurt you. My job was to limit his touches, keep him off the ball as much as possible.”

FLAMES FLICKERS: It was announced that UIC will play at Evansville in the Feb. 20 BracketBuster game. The game will tip at 7 p.m. at Roberts Stadium. … UIC forward Brad Birton missed the game with an injured left shoulder and will likely miss the next two games as well. … The Flames shot just 36 percent, but Collins insisted the players “had good looks.” … UIC lost the rebounding battle by just three, 35-32. … The nine-game slide ties the longest within a single season in school history. The team record is 11 straight defeats, which dates back to parts of two seasons (1947-48 and 1948-49 when the school was still at Navy Pier).

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McCammon puts daggers in Flames (vs. Loyola, plus roster news) (1/15/10)
Road still unkind to Flames (at Cleveland St.) (1/10/10)
Buttell's big night can't save UIC (at Youngstown St.) (1/8/10)
Flames look listless, lost (vs. Wright St.) (1/3/10)
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