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Flames Sunday schooled

DePAUL DOES THE LITTLE THINGS RIGHT

December 14, 2009

Whoosh! photo

Robo Kreps led UIC with 18 points, but the Flames lost their sixth straight game.

ROSEMONT—DePaul’s star of the game didn’t score the most points, but Michael Bizoukas contributed the things that coaches crave the most.

Bizoukas, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Munster, Ind., came off the bench to bottle up UIC’s top scoring threat and also provided nine rebounds and eight assists as the host Blue Demons defeated the Flames 77-56 at Allstate Arena on Sunday night.

UIC, which lost its sixth straight game, seemed to have hope when Robo Kreps nailed three three-pointers early, but Bizoukas was called upon to put the clamps on Kreps and did an effective job as the Blue Demons eventually found a groove and pulled away.

DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright Jerry Wainwright beamed about Bizoukas.

“Kreps, as he usually seems to do against us, got out of the box quickly,” Wainwright said. “We made a slight adjustment on him and we put Michael in. Michael’s responsibility to stop [Kreps] and he took his defensive responsibility seriously.”

“He’s kind of a throwback kid, an old throwback gym rat. He is so unpretentious.”

Kreps ended up with 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting to lead the Flames (1-6), but he had just seven points after his early burst.

“I wanted to make life as hard as possible on him,” Bizoukas said. “When he’s open, he’s going to knock them down.”

“When they put Michael on me, I knew he was coming after me no matter what,” Kreps said.

Will Walker led DePaul (6-3) with 18 points. Devin Hill contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocks and Jeremiah Kelly added 11 points and six rebounds.

The game was close for the first 15 minutes, but the Blue Demons may have been spurred on by an incident late in the first half.

UIC’s 6-foot-11 junior center K.C. Robbins jabbed the Demons’ Mario Stula with a stiff elbow to the head out of frustration with 5:50 left in the first half after Robbins had two shots blocked on the same possession. Stula crumpled to the grounded and after a short discussion, officials ejected the emotional Robbins.

“I want to apologize to the Demons’ fans and the Flames’ fans for that elbow, which was totally uncalled for,” Collins said. “We don't advocate it, and we don’t teach it. We will take care of Kyle. [The incident] hurt more than the loss for us. Kyle plays too much off emotion. He went haywire on us tonight.”

Stula returned to the lineup less than two minutes later and hit a three-pointer to help DePaul finish the half on a 17-3 run for a 39-27 advantage.

“I didn’t see the elbow,” Wainwright said. “[The ejection] certainly affected their size. [Robbins] is UIC’s biggest player. Jimmy was the first to apologize. I don’t it was that big of an incident.”

Shortly before the elbow, UIC had 24-22 lead but Walker hit back-to-back threes to start the half-closing spurt.

The Flames showed a little spark early in the second half as a 9-2 run closed the deficit to 10 points at 48-38 after Zavion Neely’s reverse layup with 12:50 remaining.

UIC had numerous chances to close to within single digits, but couldn’t connect. DePaul finally put the game away with an 8-0 run midway through the second half, which was kick-started by Kelly’s lone three-point basket.

A small dose of good news was the fact that UIC had more assists (16) than turnovers (15) for just the second time all season. The Flames had assists on all but two of their baskets.

Spencer Stewart came off the bench to contribute team highs with eight assists and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. Stewart did also have six turnovers, but some of them came when teammates didn’t anticipate his passes.

“It kind of tells you how important Spencer is to our ballclub.”

Neely also had a decent game with 15 points and four assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough for UIC, which ended up shooting just under 33 percent for the game.

“This is the first game we played this year where we had more assists than turnovers.

FLAMES FLICKERS:This game wrapped up a three-year contract between the two schools with DePaul winning two of the three meetings. Each team won the road in the last two seasons. … UIC forward Brad Birton played 15 minutes in the first half, but did not play in the second half. … Besides Kreps (18) and Neely (15), no other Flame had more than five points. … Senior forward Jeremy Buttell was visibly frustrated by a couple of questionable fouls and finished with just five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes before fouling out.

UP NEXT: UIC finally returns home for the first time in five games to host Oregon State on Wednesday night at the Pavilion. Tip time is 7 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Horizon League Network at horizonleaguenetwork.tv and the radio feed at WMVP-AM 1000 and espnchicago.com.

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