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UIC falls to Detroit but will host first-round game

Updated: April 4, 2013 6:54AM

UIC’s renaissance this season can be credited to its improvement in almost every aspect of its game, but most importantly to its commitment to taking care of the ball.

Last season, the Flames were among the country’s most turnover-prone teams. This season, they have the third-lowest average in the Horizon League.

But Saturday, when UIC hosted Detroit at the Pavilion in their regular-season finale, the Flames reverted to their bad habits. In a 79-67 loss, the Flames committed 19 turnovers, sparking a Titans team that likes to score off its defense.

“They’re really good at turning mistakes into opportunities,” UIC coach Howard Moore said. “When you’re getting in situations where you’re getting rattled and they’re getting their hands on the ball and making you do things uncharacteristically, it’s difficult and it kind of takes away from your confidence as a team.”

The Flames have the fifth seed in the conference tournament and will host Cleveland State in the first round Tuesday. The Flames have lost 12 in a row to the Vikings.

Detroit (20-11, 12-4) played suffocating defense from the start, picking up the Flames’ ball handlers almost immediately after they crossed halfcourt.

For the first few minutes, the Flames (16-14, 7-9) were able to stave off the Titans’ defense and got to the basket with some ease. But Detroit’s athletically superior guards eventually wore them out.

UIC committed 12 turnovers in the first half and trailed by 14 at halftime.

The Flames cut the deficit to five with 9:55 left in the game, a comeback almost solely led by Danny Barnes. He scored 25 of his game-high 28 points and hit seven of his career-high eight three-pointers in the second half.

“I wasn’t aggressive enough in the first half like I should have been, and I could have contributed to us getting out of the hole, but as a senior I own up to that,” Barnes said.

“We get a chance to redeem ourselves once again on our home floor in front of our family to potentially move on to the second round.”

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