Friday, December 11, 2015

Five players to watch for in Saturday's UIC/Illinois game

                                     Photo Credit: Damon Warren

On Saturday, the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames and the Illinois Fighting Illini will meet for the third time in six seasons at the United Center.

Here are five players to watch for in this in-state showdown:

1) Illinois forward Kendrick Nunn:

After missing the first five games due to a thumb injury, Nunn has responded as the Fighting Illini's top scorer with an average of 21.0 points per game.

In Illinois' 69-65 win over Yale on Dec. 9, Nunn scored a career-high 28 on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and six makes from three-point range.

Nunn will look to go for a third straight game of 20 or more points in Saturday's game against Illinois-Chicago at the United Center.

The Fighting Illini have benefited from Nunn's return going 3-2 since and stand at 5-5.

2) Illinois guard Malcolm Hill:

In a season filled with injuries across the board for Illinois, Hill has been the only player to start all 10 games.

Hill is second on the team in scoring with 16.6 PPG and leads the Fighting Illini in assists with 4.2 per game, which ranks tenth in the Big Ten Conference.

3) Illinois forward Michael Finke:

Looking to fill the void of injured center Mike Thorne, Jr (torn meniscus), Finke will be counted on to play major minutes Saturday.

If the last four games are any indication, Finke could make a bigger impact than expected. 

Finke has averaged 12.0 points per game and with a shooting percentage of 67. 9 (19-28) in that span.

4) UIC forward Dikembe Dixson:

Despite a 1-5 start this season, Dixson has been one of the few bright spots for the Flames.

The freshman ranks seventh in the Horizon League and leads the team in rebounds with 6.5 per game.

5) UIC forward Najeal Young:

If Illinois-Chicago expects to pull an upset at the United Center, then its bench must show up.

Young will be counted on to provide some energy off as he leads the Flames bench in scoring (6.2) and rebounding (5.0) per game.

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