Pair of barn burners in chilly and windy Chicago

SONG SELECTION:

Natalie Prass, “Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time)”
Found on Stereogum, make your online purchase at https://natalieprass2.bandcamp.com/releases

For a minimum contribution of $1.29, all proceeds will benefit the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) of Virginia.

On a evening that saw lots of near frostbite conditions in and around Chicago, two really hot games took place at the communities of Evanston and Lincoln Park

Both games on Wednesday night saw some great basketball action as a pair of inner-city rivalries renewed acquaintances.

First, Chicago State traveled north to take on Northwestern in one of the final games before Welsh-Ryan Arena gets its’ much overdue makeover.

Northwestern got off to a nice start during the first half, but somehow Chicago State clawed their way back in the middle of the second half.

Thanks to a three-point basket by Fred Sims, the Cougars took a brief 52-50 lead.  However, the Wildcats were quick to respond by scoring the next seven points and never relinquished the lead after that point.

Leading the charge for Chris Collins was Vic Law, Jr.  He had a very nice game finishing with 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting, including 3 of 6 from long distance.  Chicago State was led by Fred Sims, Jr. who ended up with 22 points.

Chicago State won the rebounding battle surprisingly by a 40-33 margin.  But a great defensive play off an inbounds pass by Barret Benson saved the evening and would ice the game a few moments later with two free throws in a narrow 68-64 win.

Both teams will be having some time to rest after finishing up semester final exams and then there will be a huge doubleheader at “The House That Michael Jordan Built” as the United Center will play host to two games on Saturday night:

Chicago State will take on DePaul, and the nightcap features Dayton vs. Northwestern.

Speaking of DePaul, they had more than a battle on their hands with the Flames from Illinois-Chicago.  UIC came out hotter than a wood brick oven making a piping hot pizza at 500 degrees .  Led by junior forward Kyle Guice, he was a difference maker hitting 4 of his 6 shots from deep and ending up scoring 14 points.  Tarkus Ferguson and Tai Odiase (yes, that’s his real name) each finished with 12 points in what you can basically call a mild upset as UIC upended DePaul 80-75 in one of the final games at their campus in McGrath-Phillips Arena before relocating to their new arena which will be housed inside one of the key spaces occupying McCormick Place next season.

Just like the Chicago Bulls have been suffering through in recent years in not getting up for the teams that they should be beating with regularity, DePaul is going through a major funk at the time of this blog posting.

The Blue Demons have dropped two straight games and three of their last four games overall.  Even though guard Eli Cain had a career best 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting from the field, including nailing 4 of 7 attempts from beyond the arc, DePaul misfired on their last five shots as Guice’s last three point shot was the final nail in breaking a 73 all tie.

Another light schedule, but another pair of games that was worth noting were in Wisconsin and Rutgers

The Badgers helped Greg Gard earn his 25th career win as head coach when he stepped in this time one year ago replacing the legend in Bo Ryan as Wisconsin easily won their intrastate battle with Wisconsin-Green Bay 73-59.  Senior Nigel Hayes led the Badgers with 24 points to go along with five rebounds.  In New Jersey, the Scarlet Knights are off to their best start since 1976 as they dispatched Fairleigh-Dickinson by a count of 80-69.  My only comment about Rutgers is similar to what I used to comment to friends before I started this blog about Northwestern–nice start to the non-conference schedule, but once New Year’s comes around, look out below.

99 games are on the docket for Saturday, weather permitting in the Midwest

In-season round robin tournament in Indianapolis with the annual Boilermaker Blockbuster, along with the third annual CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas should be some excellent viewing for those of you getting ready to either finish up your holiday shopping–or in my case, finally getting down to wrapping like a pro those sometime odd-shaped and most often than not fragile holiday presents.

If I get a little bit of time on either Sunday or Monday, I will try to post one final blog before I take my usual holiday break.  Hope to see you all then.

For most of the country, please have a good night and try your best to stay warm.

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