UIC (5-17, 0-8 Horizon) returns to the UIC Pavilion, where it has not beaten a Division I opponent all season, on Saturday. The Flames will host the Valparaiso Crusaders (13-10, 5-3) at 3 p.m. CT.
These teams met in the conference opener at Valparaiso, and the Crusaders defeated the Flames, 87-72. UIC owned an eight-point lead at halftime, but Valparaiso dominated the second period, 55-32.
Last time out, UIC lost a close game at Detroit. The Flames held a two-point lead in the second half but once again struggled in crunch time, losing 74-68.
Valparaiso got off to a slow start after winning the Horizon League last season, but it has since found its groove. The Crusaders have won four of their last five games. Last time out, they handed Green Bay its first loss of the conference season, although the Phoenix were without star forward Alec Brown.
Valparaiso has been led by the stellar play of senior guard LaVonte Dority and freshman forward Alec Peters.
Dority leads the Crusaders with 16.6 points per game, ranking No. 5 in the Horizon League. He scored 26 points in the team’s win against Green Bay on 9-of-12 shooting, and he has reached 20 points in four of their last five games.
Dority struggled a bit in the first meeting with UIC, but he scored five points in the final six minutes as the Valparaiso pulled away. He finished the game with 14 points and six assists.
Peters has shown tremendous ability for a freshman, averaging 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. The 6’8″ forward is also a deep threat at 37.9%.