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Complete effort

Ferguson, Blount, Boahen lead thrashing of ISU

By Mike Pankow

December 6, 2018

Mike Pankow/Whoosh!

Tarkus Ferguson recorded the second triple-double in UIC history on Wednesday night against Illinois State.

After flirting with history a few times, Tarkus Ferguson finally did it.

The junior guard from Belleville got his first career triple-double, despite a bad shooting night personally, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in UIC's 94-75 victory over Illinois State at Credit Union 1 Arena on Wednesday night.

Ferguson's triple-double is the second in school history after teammate Godwin Boahen did it nearly two years ago, racking up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against Roosevelt.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder shot just 4-for-16 from the field, but the Flames (4-5) as team drained 55.7 percent of its shots, helping Ferguson securing loads of assists.

"Shots were falling tonight," said Ferguson of his teammates, who hit 30-for-45 from the field.

Ferguson wasn't alone in having big nights. Junior Jordan Blount scored a career-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds and five steals while Boahen drilled six 3-pointers en route to a 22-point effort.

"Once we started to move the ball, they couldn't guard us," Blount said. "Once we put them in a number of actions and made them think, the more openings we had.

"Everybody contributed, both defensive and offensively. To get a commanding win against such a high-profile team is huge for us."

Even when the Redbirds (6-4) made their runs, UIC had the answers and made up for a depressing home loss to Loyola on Saturday.

"We had a tough game on Saturday and everybody walked away disappointed. We had to come back and get our energy going tonight. I thought our defensive intensity was way better, which also made our offense way better."

Blount had a couple of buckets and Boahen hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 15-2 run that put the Flames ahead 25-12 with 11:16 left.

Milik Yarbrough hit a hook shot in the lane to pull ISU back into a 34-34 tie, but Ferguson and Blount knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions before UIC surged back ahead 54-43 at halftime.

Yarbrough, who finished with a game-high 30 points, scored 13 points within the first four minutes of the second half to pull the Redbirds to within 58-57 with 16:10 remaining.

UIC answered with an 18-3 spurt, which included eight points from Blount and an alley-oop dunk and 3-pointer by reserve Michael Diggins (12 points). When the smoke cleared, the Flames led 76-60 midway through the second half.

"This was our most complete game from start to finish. Even when (ISU) made the run to start the second half, I knew that we had another run coming. We took off from right there, got the lead back to 10. What I was most proud of was we handled the pressure at the end of the game, came down, took time, got a great shot whether we scored or not."

The Flames led by as many as 20 before ending up with a 19-point victory.

UIC held ISU to 42.2 percent shooting and outrebounded the Redbirds 34-31.

"Our guys knew we were facing one of the best teams that we've played and we were going to have to be at our best to win," McClain said.

FLAMES FLICKERS: UIC snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series against ISU. The Flames' last win against the Redbirds was a 60-56 victory in Normal on Nov. 30, 2004. ... After being the only Flame to score in double figures in the first eight games, junior guard Marcus Ottey was held to nine points on 4-for-9 shooting. ... Diggins equaled his season high of 12, which he also had against Duquesne on Nov. 12. ... After being outrebounded in their first four games, the Flames have held the rebounding advantage in four of their last five games. ... Ferguson completed the triple-double with his 10th rebound on Josh Jefferson's missed 3-pointer with 4:26 left.

POSTGAME VIDEOS (courtesy UIC Flames on YouTube):

In other recent news:
Loyola 73, UIC 64: Crosstown quandary (12/4/18)
St. Joseph's 89, UIC 75: Another big lead goes poof (11/30/18)
UIC 94, UW-Parkside 74: Roller-coaster ride (11/27/18)
UIC 71, Bradley 70: Tired Flames find a way (11/22/18)
UIC 100, William & Mary 95 (OT): Extra mile-stone (11/16/18)
Duquesne 89, UIC 88 (OT): Late letdown leaves Flames winless (11/13/18)
Radford 88, UIC 78: Road doesn’t get easier (11/11/18)
Notre Dame 84, UIC 67: Just no answer (11/8/18)
Exhibition: UIC 81, Illinois Wesleyan 60: Flames pass test (11/5/18)