UIC Hosts Southern Methodist In Return To Chicago

Coming off a surprising third-place finish at the Gulf Coast Showcase, UIC (3-4) returns home to the UIC Pavilion, where it will host Southern Methodist (7-2) on Wednesday night.

The Mustangs, who are coached by Hall-of-Famer Larry Brown, have won their last two games and five of their last six.

The most intriguing matchup of this game is at point guard, where Purdue transfer Kelsey Barlow goes up against Illinois State transfer Nic Moore.

Photo: USATSI
Nic Moore enters Wednesday’s game as SMU’s leader in points, assists, steals, and three-pointers. (Photo: USATSI)

At 6’5″, Barlow gives UIC a huge size advantage against Moore, who stands at only 5’9″.

Barlow started the season rusty after not playing a Division I game in about 21 months. Plus, he was playing point guard for the first time in his collegiate career. However, now appears to be coming into his own.

Despite his shaky start, Barlow performed well in three games at the Gulf Coast Showcase.

The redshirt senior averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and three assists, and he also shot 46.7% from the field, 45% from beyond the arc, and 84.4% from the foul line.

Entering Wednesday, he ranks No. 2 in the Horizon League in assist rate behind Oakland’s Duke Mondy.

However, Moore has also been off to a great start for the Mustangs. Although Moore also sat out last season after transferring from Illinois State, “rusty” is the last way someone would describe him.

Through nine games, he is averaging 13.9 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 56% from the field and 60% on three-pointers. In his last two games, he has shot 9-of-11 from beyond the arc.

If he can overcome his size disadvantage against UIC’s taller guards, he can give the Flames nightmares.

Last week, the Flames also received breakout contributions from sophomores Jake Wiegand and Gabe Snider and freshman Pat Birt.

Wiegand struggled in UIC’s loss to Louisiana Tech, but in the two tournament wins he averaged 11 points and eight rebounds.

Snider recorded a career-high 11 points against San Diego and then came back strong against Wagner with eight points.

UIC freshman Pat Birt has scored 11 points in each of his last two games. (Photo: UIC Athletics)
UIC freshman Pat Birt has scored 11 points in each of his last two games. (Photo: UIC Athletics)

After scoring a total of five points in his first three collegiate games, Birt exploded for 11 points in back-to-back outings against Louisiana Tech and Wagner.

Guards Jay Parker and Lance Whitaker have been dealing with injuries and junior guard Joey Miller was granted his release from the program on Tuesday, so UIC will need consistent production like this from Snider and Birt in the backcourt.

A potential NCAA Tournament team, Southern Methodist has many weapons other than Moore.

Junior college transfer Yanick Moreira, a 6’11” center, is averaging 11 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 59.4% from the field.

Whether the Flames give his defensive assignment to Wiegand, Jordan Harks, or Hayden Humes, Moreira will have a three-inch size advantage to exploit.

Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy gives the Mustangs another good frontcourt option. Kennedy, who averages 8.9 points and 4.9 rebounds, has struggled in his last two outings, but last week he had a 14-point performance against Virginia.

At guard, Southern Methodist sports senior Nick Russell and freshman Keith Frazier along with Moore.

Russell is not a consistent scorer with 8.7 points per game on 37.9% shooting, but he ranks in the top 20 in the American Athletic Conference in free throw rate. Although Moore leads the team in assists, Russell also distributes well with 3.3 assists and fewer than two turnovers per game.

Frazier, who was a top-100 recruit in the Class of 2013, has been a solid contributor with 6.4 points per game on 42.9% shooting.

Tip-off at the Pavilion is set for 7 p.m. CT.

 

Predictions
The Catch and Shoot

Southern Methodist 82, UIC 77

KenPom

Southern Methodist 79, UIC 68

Sagarin

Southern Methodist by 9 points

Vegas

Southern Methodist by 7

 

All advanced statistics are courtesy of KenPom.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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