Bench production helps UIC blow by Detroit

Photo: UIC Athletics

UIC won their first Horizon League game of the 2016-2017 season Friday at the UIC Pavilion, defeating Detroit 78-64 in impressive fashion.

Freshman guard Tarkus Ferguson led the way with an all-around effort, producing 16 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Fellow freshman Marcus Ottey chipped in 12 points, and junior forward Tai Odiase added 11 points and eight blocks. UIC (8-7, 1-1) dominated on both ends of the floor, shooting 57% as a team and limiting Detroit to 38% from the field.

Reserves Produce

UIC had four reserves garner playing time off the bench against Detroit: Kyle Guice, Michael Kolawale, Dominique Matthews and Clint Robinson.

They combined to score 30 points and shot 66% from the field.

Kolawale, who scored a season-high 11 points, and Matthews (eight points) were particularly aggressive in the first half. Guice once again played within the flow of the offense and hit spot up three’s when given the opportunity.

Block Party for Odiase

A big reason for Detroit shooting 31% from the field was Odiase’s penchant for blocking shots in the paint. Odiase tied a season-high with eight blocks, effectively taking away Detroit’s close-range shots.

He thrives providing weakside help, his timing is great and his tremendous length all lead to great rim protection. Since sophomore star Dikembe Dixson has been sidelined, Odiase is averaging 14.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.4 blocks while shooting 64% from the field in five games.

Notes

-K.J. Santos missed the game with food poisoning, and there’s still no word on whether he’ll be healthy to play on Sunday against Oakland.

-UIC committed 23 turnovers, but Detroit only scored 27 points off UIC’s turnovers. In contrast, UIC scored 26 points off 16 Detroit turnovers.

-Ottey and Lance Whitaker both drew the start against Detroit with Santos out. Robinson came off the bench. Because Detroit played several perimeter players, the matchups worked for UIC. I expect to see a different starting lineup against Oakland.

-Oakland visits the UIC Pavilion on Sunday, fresh off a Friday night win at Valparaiso. When the next Horizon League Power Rankings come out, Oakland will have a great shot at being #1.

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