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UIC posts first three-game winning streak under coach Howard Moore

Updated: December 26, 2012 9:43AM

With several players emerging as offensive stalwarts, it could have been easy for UIC to rely on hot shooting in its game Saturday against Southeast Missouri at the Pavilion.

But the Flames struggled all game offensively and were reminded that they’ll shape their identity on the defensive end.

UIC (4-1) used high ball pressure and outstanding half-court defense to stymie the potent Redhawks
(3-4) in a 56-45 victory.

For the first time since coach Howard Moore took over the program before the 2010-11 season, the Flames have won three in a row.

“These guys are going to get committed to playing defense, and that’s what’s going to win us games,” Moore said. “We’re not going to shoot lights-out all the time. We’re not going to wow people with our offensive prowess.

‘‘The state of where we are as a program is just learning how to win games. We’re not worried about aesthetics.’’

The Flames’ performance Saturday won’t make any highlight reels, but they showed they have become more mature and composed on offense. They also maintained belief in their defense and committed just five turnovers.

Center Josh Crittle was especially aggressive on defense and stayed out of the foul trouble that had plagued him through the first few games. He led the Flames with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

‘‘Staying out of foul trouble in the first half made me more aggressive in the second half,’’ Crittle said.

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