No. 11 seed Illinois-Chicago (9-12, 6-10) vs. No. 6 seed Youngstown State (14-11, 9-11)
Horizon Conference Tourney First Round, Beeghly Physical Education Center, Youngstown, Ohio; Thursday, 8 p.m. EST
BOTTOM LINE: Illinois-Chicago and Youngstown State are set to do battle in the opening round of the Horizon tournament. The teams split the regular season series at one win apiece. The teams last played on Jan. 23, when the Penguins forced 19 Illinois-Chicago turnovers and turned the ball over just eight times en route to an eight-point victory.
VETERAN PRESENCE: Each team has relied heavily on their seniors this year. Naz Bohannon, Michael Akuchie and Garrett Covington have collectively accounted for 49 percent of Youngstown State’s scoring this season and 55 percent of the team’s points over its last five games. For Illinois-Chicago, Teyvion Kirk, Michael Diggins, Braelen Bridges, Maurice Commander and Rob Howard have collectively accounted for 70 percent of all Illinois-Chicago scoring, including 94 percent of the team’s points over its last five games.
KEY CONTRIBUTIONS: Kirk has either made or assisted on 47 percent of all Illinois-Chicago field goals over the last three games. The junior guard has accounted for 20 field goals and 16 assists in those games.
PERFECT WHEN: The Penguins are 5-0 when they turn the ball over eight times or fewer and 9-11 when they exceed eight turnovers. The Flames are 6-0 when they hold opponents to 66 points or fewer and 3-12 whenever opponents exceed 66 points.
COLD SPELL: Illinois-Chicago has lost its last five road games, scoring 72.4 points, while allowing 80.6 per game.
DID YOU KNOW: Youngstown State gets to the line more often than any other Horizon team. The Penguins have averaged 20.8 free throws per game this season.
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