CHICAGO (AP) -- Rich McBride scored 13 points and Illinois nearly blew a 16-point lead Saturday before holding to beat Illinois-Chicago 71-66.
The Illini (9-2) are now 29-6 all-time at the United Center and 12-1 against UIC.Chester Frazier added 10 points for the Illini and Brian Randle -- who'd missed the previous nine games following groin surgery -- had nine points and nine rebounds.Othyus Jeffers, who led UIC's comeback, scored 13 of his 16 in the second half. Josh Mayo added 13 for the Flames (5-5).Illinois led by 16 and was up 37-22 at the end of the first half. But the Flames scored the first 11 points of the second half as part of an opening 19-6 run. A pair of 3-pointers by Johan Stefanov helped cut the lead to two.The Flames were still within two with 9:11 to go, but Warren Carter banked in a jump hook and hit a 3-pointer during a quick 10-point as Illinois built the lead back to 12.UIC scratched back and was down 68-62 when Flames' coach Jimmy Collins was called for a technical foul with 51.5 seconds left. Jamar Smith made one of two free throws on the technical and McBride -- who'd been fouled on the play -- sank two from the line to make it a nine-point game.Jeffers hit a pair of free throws and then made a steal and drove for a layup to cut it to 71-66 with 17 seconds to go.After Trent Meacham of Illinois missed two at the line with 12 seconds remaining, Randle blocked a a floater in the lane and the Illini had the victory.UIC hit a pair of quick 3-pointers to go up 6-0 before Illinois went on an 18-1 run that featured a pair of 3-pointers from Chester Frazier.The Flames stayed close behind 3-pointers from Spencer Stewart and T.J. Gray and trailed just 24-18 late in the half.But McBride hit a pair of 3-pointers and Meacham another during an 11-1 run as the Illini went up 35-19 while UIC went nearly seven minutes without a basket.UIC shot just 27 percent in the first half and improved that to 50 percent in the second 20 minutes.