Whoosh! Net News

Bitter cold night in Mt. Pleasant


November 19, 2009

Whoosh! photo

Robo Kreps had a team-high 12 points in the Flames’ loss.

In a town named Mt. Pleasant, things were quite unpleasant for UIC.

Even with two veteran players returning from a one-game suspension, the Flames had a miserable time in almost every facet of the game in a 67-48 loss to Central Michigan at Rose Arena on Wednesday night.

Where to begin?

UIC shot just 27 percent from the field, making 14 of 52 shot attempts. The Flames were outrebounded 47-29 for the game. They didn’t score a two-point field goal in the first half and allowed nine three-pointers in the same half.

In a few words, UIC looked like a club that endured a significant personnel turnover in the last several months.

“It’s discouraging,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said after the game on the espnchicago.com broadcast. “But we’re going to work on it. We’re working to try to put something together. We’re going to get better.”

Robo Kreps scored 12 points and Jeremy Buttell added 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds to lead the Flames (1-1).

Robbie Harman had 20 points and hit six three-pointers to lead the Chippewas (2-1), which shot 44 percent from downtown.

The Flames fell behind 11-0 within the first 2:06 of the contest and it appeared CMU was going to coast. However, UIC put together a rally, scoring the next 11, which included five points from Kreps, to tie the game.

The Flames’ momentum didn’t last long as the Chippewas regained control. Harman hit four three-pointers as the Chippewas outscored the Flames 28-11 to close the first half for a 39-22 lead.

“It was target practice for them,” Collins said. “We identified the shooters before the game, but they didn’t move their feet. We didn’t get to them.”

UIC clawed back to within 10 points at 45-35 on a Kreps layup with 13:26 remaining, but that was the closest the Flames would get.

CMU went on a 9-2 spurt, capped by a Jordan Bitzer three with 7:55 left to swell the lead back to 17. The Flames trailed by as many as 23.

“I don’t know what it was,” Collins said. “For whatever reason, we just didn’t play well.”

DRIVERS SLAM ON THE BRAKES: After having a moderate level of success driving to the basket and drawing fouls (though not making baskets), UIC abandoned the tactic, which puzzled Collins.

“We shoot too many threes,” Collins said. “We had on the board that we could drive ‘em.”

Sophomore guard Zavion Neely, who was the most successful at penetrating to the hoop particularly against UIS on Saturday, committed three fouls in the first half, including a charge, and was ineffective thereafter. Neely had just four points in 10 minutes after notching a team-high 19 points in his last outing.

FLAMES FLICKERS: Seniors Buttell and Kris Harris returned after a one-game suspension. Buttell started, while Harris came off the bench and scored five points in 22 minutes. …

The Flames’ big men both struggled: Junior K.C. Robbins and freshman Louis Green were shutout in the scorebook, combining to shoot 0-for-3 from the field with four rebounds and five fouls in 19 minutes. …

The Flames played all 14 of their active players, including sophomore guard Austin Hood, who made his season debut by scoring seven points in eight minutes of play in the second half. …

In an interview that aired before the game, Kreps said that senior point Spencer Stewart “would be back soon.”

In other recent news:
Neely seizes opportunity as Flames win opener (vs. UIS) (11/15/09)
It's not easy being green (Exhibition vs. Lewis) (11/11/09)
Flames tabbed ninth in preseason (plus HL/Whoosh! vote) (11/9/09)
Collins turns to Robbins in the post (plus departures, schedule) (10/6/09)
SUMMER UPDATE: Marquee names on non-conference schedule (7/8/09)