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Salukis’ 2nd-half spurt douses Flames

FAY LEADS 19-0 RUN; UIC COMMITS 21 TURNOVERS

November 29, 2009

Whoosh! photo

Zavion Neely scored a career-best 24 points for UIC.

Five bad minutes and a boatload of turnovers led to another long bus ride home for UIC.

Reserve forward Carlton Fay scored a career-high 23 points and Southern Illinois used a 19-0 run midway through the second half in a 74-64 victory over the Flames at SIU Arena in Carbondale on Saturday night.

The 6-foot-8-inch Fay scored 11 points and hit three three-pointers in the spurt for the Salukis (3-1), which turned a two-point deficit into a 59-42 lead with 7:38 remaining in the game.

Robo Kreps hit a three-pointer to give UIC (1-3) a 42-40 lead with 12:07 left in the contest, but SIU’s Tony Freeman answered with a three of his own to put SIU back on top.

Fay hit a layup and two three-pointers to extend the lead to nine. After two Kevin Dillard free throws, Fay hit another trey. Dillard finished the run with an old-fashioned three-point play.

“I always said Fay was a heck of a player, and he proved that,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “Anytime you got a guy his size with his strength who can step out and shoot threes and go inside and post you up, he’s obviously a problem. We didn’t switch, we missed our assignments and the rest was history.”

The Flames also committed 21 turnovers, including four in the game-deciding run. The miscues kept the Salukis close until they were able to break the game open.

“We got careless with the basketball at the wrong time,” Collins said. “We didn’t get anything from our guards in terms of protecting the ball.”

Dillard had 17 points, five assists and five steals and Nick Evans chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds for SIU.

Sophomore Zavion Neely scored a game-high 24 points on 8-for-17 shooting to go with a team-high six assists in 39 minutes for UIC. Neely kept the Flames close again with his fearless drives to the basket.

“He brings us quickness and toughness,” Collins said. “He’s the only guy we got right now who’s playing tough.”

Kreps contributed 19 points and five three-pointers and Jeremy Buttell added 12 points and six rebounds for UIC, which lost to its second consecutive Missouri Valley foe.

UIC fell behind 10-4, but two baskets by Neely sandwiched around a Buttell three-pointer put the Flames ahead.

SIU went on a 10-3 for a 24-18 lead until Neely scored five straight points, including a three-pointer that pulled the Flames back to within a point late in the first half. Fay hit a jumper 43 seconds before the break that gave the Salukis a 26-23 halftime advantage.

UIC built a three-point lead early in the second half as K.C. Robbins converted on a putback and Neely hit a layup, but the Flames couldn’t keep the momentum.

In the end, turnovers were the killer as Kreps, Neely and forward Brad Birton each had six. SIU capitalized with 30 points off the takeaways.

“Turnovers are always going to be a factor whether you win or lose,” Collins said. “We turned the ball over and it led to scoring opportunities for them. That put air in their sails, and they sailed on out with the win.”

FLAMES FLICKERS:Birton pulled down a game-high eight rebounds for the second straight game for UIC. … The Flames tightened their rotation, playing a season-low nine players. UIC’s bench had just one point — on a Kris Harris free throw. … The 21 turnovers were the most for UIC since it committed 21 against Bradley in an 84-75 win at the Pavilion on Nov. 10, 2007. … The Flames’ big-man duo of Robbins and Louis Green combined for four blocked shots in 34 minutes. … SIU shot 18-for-19 from the free-throw line for 94.7 percent. … The Salukis’ Tony Freeman is the son of the former UIC guard of the same name, who played for the Flames from 1988-91.

UP NEXT:UIC opens Horizon League play at Milwaukee against the rival Panthers on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Arena.

The Panthers are 5-2 and winners of four straight after a gritty 90-83 overtime win at Bowling Green on Saturday. Senior forward James Eayrs is averaging 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Senior Ricky Franklin is averaging 13.3 points and 3.9 assists per outing.

The game can be seen on HLN at horizonleaguenetwork.tv and can be heard on WMVP-AM 1000 or espnchicago.com. Former Flames play-by-play man and current Tampa Bay Rays announcer Dave Wills makes a cameo appearance to handle the call over the radio.

In other recent news:
Flames’ comeback falls just short (vs. Illinois St., plus Stewart update) (11/24/09)
Bitter cold night in Mt. Pleasant (at C. Michigan) (11/19/09)
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)