Illinois-Chicago (3-5, 0-2) at Oregon St. (6-2) at 7 PM at Gill Coliseum / ROOT Sports NW / KEJO 1240 AM / KPAM 860 (Streamed)
The Illinois-Chicago Flames from the Horizon Conference visit Corvallis tonight for the middle game in Oregon St.'s current 5 game home stand.
The Flames snapped a 3 game road losing streak Saturday with a 62-55 home win over still winless Northern Illinois. Illinois-Chicago has been more competitive than their record indicates, with their last 2 losses by 3 points and 2 points in overtime. They also have a 4 point loss. Their schedule hasn't been intimidating at all, though, with non-conference games against teams from the MAC the highlights of their season so far.
The Beavers had their first truly poor game of the season Friday night in losing to the Idaho Vandals 74-60. Roberto Nelson came off the bench to lead the Beavers with 16 points, and Joe Burton added 15, as well as a smorgasbord of rebounds, assists, steals, and a block. But the rest of the team had what Coach Craig Robinson described as a "bad day at the office", especially offensively. Oregon St. shot just 33% from the field, and only 13 % (3 of 23) on 3 pointers. Jared Cunningham missed every shot he took from the field.
The double whammy of the passing of football player Fred Thompson two evenings before the game, and right in the middle of the rigors of finals week doubtless played a part in causing the out-of-sync outing.
Illinois-Chicago has become a regular winter break opponent for Oregon St., and home court has held serve the last 2 years. The Beavers lost by a narrow 63-61 margin in 2009 in Chicago, and took a 74-54 win three days before Christmas last year when Cunningham posted a 22 point performance, and the Flames flamed out in their first visit to Gill.
The Flames utilize a 3 guard offense, and were led by 6'4" freshman Marc Brown, who had 15 points in the win over Northern Illinois. The other starting guards, 6'2" senior Daniel Barnes and 6'1" junior Gary Talton, added 12 and 11 points, and are the usual primary scorers for Chicago-Illinois, both averaging just a hair under 10 points per contest so far this season.
6'8" sophomore forward Hayden Humes pulled down 10 rebounds in the win over the Huskies, while 6'9" senior center Darrin Williams, who rounds out the starting 5, and 6'7" senior forward Paris Carter, who generally gets the greatest amount of time off the bench, both average 6 1/2 rebounds per game for the Flames.
Oregon St.'s front court should have a good night against the smaller Chicago-Illinois squad, but their backcourt depth could be tested. Challe Barton could see an opportunity to make a difference as the fourth guard in this one.
The question of the night will be how the Beavers bounce back from a performance that was as disappointing as the results were against Idaho, especially against a less than marquis name opponent, and on what could be a pretty quiet night. With the students mostly out of town for Christmas break, the Flames are definitely getting a break in terms of not facing the energy level the Beaver Dam normally imparts into Gill.
If your not taking in the game at Gill, here's the place to take a break from Christmas shopping, and discuss how the game is going, as you watch it on ROOT Sports NW, or reflect on how things are going this season for the Beavers.