CHICAGO — Milwaukee thoroughly enjoyed its trip to Chicago on Saturday, blowing past UIC for a 87-62 victory.
The Panthers have now won four of their last five games with the only loss coming on the road to first-place Valparaiso. Meanwhile, the Flames’ slump continues with six straight losses, and 15 consecutive defeats against Division I opponents dating back to last season.
—UIC struggled mightily at the rim.
Deep into the first half, UIC ran solid offense but missed several easy opportunities for points, shooting 4-of-10 on layups in the opening 20 minutes.
With the ball not going through the rim, UIC’s offense started getting sloppy as the Flames started forcing the ball inside. UIC had three turnovers in its last seven possessions of the first half.
During that stretch, Milwaukee’s lead grew from 12 points to 23 points.
The Flames were not much better in the second half, going 5-of-11 on layups on dunks to finish the day at 42.9 percent on shots at the rim.
—UIC could not handle Matt Tiby. The Milwaukee forward dropped 23 points in 30 minutes, needing only 11 field-goal attempts to get there.
UIC had no way of stopping him, as Tiby was more physical than the Flames in the post and stepped out to knock down three jumpers.
Tiby has always been a ferocious post player. With his 3-point shooting hovering just under 40 percent this season, the 6-foot-8 senior is becoming one of the more versatile scoring threats in the conference.
—Michael Kolawole is developing into one of the more promising players on this UIC team.
The 6-foot-5 guard recorded 11 points Saturday and is now averaging 9.8 points in his last four games.
Early in the season, it looked like Kolawole would spend a lot of time on the bench. He only had one game against a Division I opponent (20 minutes vs. Illinois, Dec. 12) where he played more than eight minutes before becoming a consistent rotation player starting Dec. 29 against Northern Illinois.
Kolawole is one of UIC’s best players in the open floor, and a serviceable jumper makes him a threat in the half court, too.
—There weren’t many good moments for UIC, but Paris Burns’ posterization of Tiby belongs on the highlight reel. With 13:40 remaining in the second half, Burns flew in for a tomahawk slam that brought the meager UIC crowd to its feet for at least a brief moment.
Burns could get some time on SportsCenter tomorrow morning.
—Looking forward…In its first five conference games, UIC had to play the top five teams in the conference as picked in the preseason poll. (So far, the preseason poll is looking pretty accurate.)
The Flames finally get some games against teams closer to their level, but they have to play the next three games on the road, starting with Cleveland State on Monday.