Illini Extinguish Flames


Posted Dec 28, 2013


Facing a 44-34 halftime deficit, Illinois used a 40-16 second half in their favor to avoid the upset bid by the hometown UIC Flames.

CHICAGO -- Rayvonte Rice led a furious second-half comeback on Saturday, scoring 28 points as the University of Illinois beat the University of Illinois-Chicago 74-60.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, the Fighting Illini went on an 8-0 run over the first 1:04 of the second half to erase the deficit and seize momentum. Rice scored seven points in 58 seconds a few minutes later to turn a two-point deficit into a five-point lead -- Illinois' first lead of the game.

The junior's left-handed layup at 13:24 tied the game at 53. His layup and 3-pointer on the ensuing possessions put the Illini in the driver's seat.

Rice also had seven rebounds and three assists. He has scored in double-digits every game this season. Tracy Abrams scored 16, and Joseph Bertrand added 14 for Illinois (11-2), which has won four of its last five.

UIC senior Kelsey Barlow led the Flames with 21 points Barlow put the Illini defense on its toes right from the opening tip, scoring 14 of the Flames' first 18 points en route to an early 10-point cushion.

With the Illini's attention focused on Barlow, the floodgates opened up for his teammates, who shot 64.7 percent from the floor in the first half.

Marc Brown drained a pair of easy 3-pointers on consecutive possessions midway through the first half when Illinois collapsed on Barlow, who drove into the paint only to dish it back out to a wide-open teammate.

UIC (5-9) was unable to sustain its success, shooting just 26.1 percent in the second half.

Barlow, Brown and Pat Birt, who combined for 35 points in the first half, scored just seven between them in the second. Barlow eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the fifth time this season and the Flames are 2/3 when he does so.

Though the United Center is less than two miles from the UIC Pavilion, the Flames were engulfed in a sea of orange-clad Illini fans.

Illinois has won 13 of 15 meetings all-time against UIC, and three of four at the United Center. The Illini are 35-12 overall at the United Center since the 1994-95 season.

UIC won 57-54 when the teams last met on Dec. 18, 2010. Illinois was ranked No. 12 at the time.


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