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Rock bottom

Flames outclassed in loss at NKU

By Mike Pankow

January 2, 2018

Mike Pankow/Whoosh! file photo

UIC sophomore Marcus Ottey’s 15 points led the team against Northern Kentucky on Saturday night.

Any negative adjective you want to describe UIC’s performance would have been fitting Saturday night.

After losing their three previous road games by a combined 11 points, the bottom fell out for Flames, who looked listless and outclassed in an 86-51 loss to defending Horizon League tournament champion Northern Kentucky.

The Flames (5-10, 0-2 Horizon) were picked to finish third in the conference just behind NKU with Oakland being voted the league favorites. However, UIC didn’t look like it belonged on the court with the Norse (9-5, 2-0).

Drew McDonald put up a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds for NKU with his usual stellar inside-outside game. Mason Faulkner scored 15 points and Lavone Holland II added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Marcus Ottey was the only player to reach double figures for the Flames with 15 points, but he sat out a large portion of the first half with two fouls as the Norse controlled the game.

NKU opened leads of 11-2, 21-4, 35-8 and 43-10 during its dominant first half.

UIC shot just 35.7 percent from the field, including 2-for-15 from 3-point range, committed 18 turnovers and was outrebounded 46-34. Flames star Dikembe Dixson scored just two points on 1-for-10 shooting with just two rebounds and four turnovers in 23 minutes.

The Norse blew the game open, thanks to its 47.6 percent shooting from 3-point land (10-for-21). Holland had four 3s and Faulkner added three from deep.

In the end, the Flames left the Cincinnati metro area with a head-scratching performance in their wake and an 0-7 road record.

Mike Pankow/Whoosh!

Michael Diggins

FLAMES FLICKERS: If there was one positive to take out of Saturday night, it was the play of UIC’s freshmen. Michael Diggins scored a career-high nine points on 4-for-5 shooting with four rebounds and Jacob Wiley added a career-best six points on 3-for-7 from the field and three rebounds. The duo played with an energy that missing from most of the team’s veterans. … Sophomore forward Jordan Blount contributed nine points and eight rebounds for the Flames. … UIC reserve center Clint Robinson played just six minutes after catching an errant elbow in the head from a Northern Kentucky player while going for a rebound in the first half. … Dixson needs three points to become the 22nd player in UIC history to reach the 1,000-point mark. … The 35-point loss was second largest in coach Steve McClain’s tenure as Flames coach behind an 87-49 loss at Wright State on Feb. 26, 2017. … UIC plays IUPUI for the first time in a Horizon League conference game Thursday in Indianapolis.

In other recent news:
Wright State 65, UIC 61: Right through their fingers (12/28/17)
UIC 84, Trinity Christian 45: Tandem offense (12/26/17)
Northern Illinois 69, UIC 63: State of disappointment (12/22/17)
Illinois State 71, UIC 70: Cruel road (12/20/17)
UIC 76, Dartmouth 60: Point made (12/16/17)
DePaul 65, UIC 55: The kid that got away (12/12/17)
UIC 76, Wis.-Parkside 48: That’s more like it (12/7/17)
Loyola 85, UIC 61: Crosstown classic beatdown (12/4/17)
Troy 87, UIC 66: Lost trip continues (12/1/17)