UIC’s strong Horizon League finish puts destiny in their hands

UIC defeated Detroit 94-87 on February 19th at the UIC Pavilion.

CHICAGO – It’s so easy to say but it’s too fitting with their play and their name.

So just say it – UIC is on fire on the hardwood right now.

The Flames (Get it!) have lived up to their moniker over the past two months, perhaps to the surprise of those in the Horizon League, and suddenly find themselves in control of their championship destiny.

A 94-87 win over Detroit at UIC Pavilion on Monday night brings the Flames to 12-4 league as they’ve now won nine of their last ten games. It a run that came after the Flames lost their first two games in the Horizon which put their record at 5-10 overall.

That’s improved to 17-12 and the chance to capture a championship is now in their hands. Ahead of them in the standings by a game are Northern Kentucky and Wright State, whom UIC will host in their final two regular season games on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Win them both and Steve McClain’s team would capture their first regular season Horizon League championship since the 1997-1998 season. That would also guarantee the Flames at least a spot in the NIT, which they haven’t appeared since the 2003 season, with an NCAA Tournament bid just a league tournament title away.

The Flames came into the week knowing they would control their destiny as far as a regular season crown goes and they took care of business with another strong offensive effort on Monday night. Dikembe Dixson and Marcus Ottey each had 20 points as UIC grabbed as much a 17-point lead in the second half before finishing with a seven-point triumph.

It marked the third time in the last 14 games that the Flames scored over 90 points – and they’ll need it to complete the week with an undefeated record.

To start the Horizon League, it was Wright State (65-61) and Northern Kentucky (86-51) that knocked off UIC to hand them two quick losses. Should they return the favor this week, then the Flames will be adding some new hardware to a trophy case in need of a new addition.