DePaul (5-4) didn’t help themselves by shooting just 30 percent from the field in the second half after shooting a hot 62.1 percent in the first half.
“We didn’t play with any energy in the second half,” said senior guard Billy Garrett, Jr. “We didn’t guard. We didn’t do what we try to do every day. We didn’t play hard. We didn’t defend that well. That’s where the biggest disappointment is.”
Despite getting a career-high 27 points from sophomore guard Eli Cain, DePaul somehow couldn’t find Cain at all during the last four minutes of the game.
DePaul drove the ball aggressively in the first half, and led by as many as nine points with 15:27 to play, but repeatedly failed to capitalize on opportunities in the second half.
“We’ve got to play with more purpose and I don’t know that we did that particularly in the second half,” said Leitao. “Defensively, guys didn’t play with the same character and understand what their roles are.”
The Flames got the job done with some balanced scoring after Dikembe Dixson left the game in the first half with a left knee injury.
UIC (5-5) had four players finish in double-figures. Kyle Guice led the way for the Flames with some key 3-pointers in the second half. Guice scored 14 points off the bench, including four of six from beyond the arc. Center Tai Odiase and guard Tarkus Ferguson added 12 points apiece. Freshman Marcus Ottey chipped in with 11 points off the bench.
Garrett tied his career-high with 26 points while shooting seven of 18 from the field.
Joe Hanel grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds along with nine points in the losing effort.
- Tonight was DePaul’s 15th game at McGrath-Phillips Arena... the Blue Demons are 12-3 all-time in the on-campus facility and 2-1 this season.
- DePaul’s 43 points in the first half are most in the opening period this season... previously the Blue Demons scored 34 in the first half on two occasions.
- The 32 second-half points were the fewest in a second half this season... previously, DePaul scored 33 against Rutgers.
- Eli Cain and Billy Garrett Jr. each scored at least 20 points for the third time this season... Cain’s 27 points are a new career high and Garrett’s 26 points match his career high (second time).
- Eli Cain reached the 500-point plateau in his 40th career game... he recorded his sixth game this season (10th career) with 20 or more points.
- Billy Garrett Jr. (1,283 points) passed Brandon Cole (1,262 points, 1991-95) and Bobby Simmons (1,263 points, 1998-01) for 24th and 23rd on DePaul’s all-time scoring list... Garrett (465 free throws) passed Mark Aguirre (456 free throws, 1978-81) for third all-time... with three assists tonight, Garrett (352 assists) passed Brandon Cole (351 assists, 1991-95) for 14th all-time.
- Joe Hanel posted his first career game of 10 or more rebounds with a career-high 12 boards.
- DePaul leads the series, 5-2, against UIC... against the Horizon League, the Blue Demons are 73-20 all-time.