Odiase’s big blocks help Flames build on winning streak

Tai Odiase

Tai Odiase blocked a career-high nine shots versus Northern Kentucky. — Photo: Steve Woltmann

UIC center Tai Odiase threw a one-man block party Saturday and the outstanding effort helped propel the Flames to their second consecutive victory, 79-77, over Northern Kentucky.

The Flames host Detroit Friday and Oakland Sunday at the UIC Pavilion.

Odiase matched the best single-game mark in program history Saturday as he turned away a career-high nine shots. He is the seventh player in the NCAA, and first in the Horizon League, to block at least nine shots in a single game this season. The Glenwood native has been on a defensive tear of late and has catapulted himself into sixth place on UIC’s all-time list with 119 rejections.

The 6-foot-9 center saved his biggest block for last Saturday against the Norse. Trailing by two, Northern Kentucky called timeout with possession and 11.8 seconds left on the clock. The visitors got the ball into the hands of Drew McDonald and the freshman drove to the right, where Odiase greeted him at the rim and rejected his effort. The UIC sophomore kept the ball from going out of bounds, corralled the rebound and flipped it Najeal Young as time expired, sealing the victory for the Flames.

The Flames needed a second-half comeback to knock off the Horizon League’s newest member. Both teams slogged through much of the first half.

UIC quickly erased the halftime deficit and tied the score at 39 each. Northern Kentucky countered and it gained an eight-point edge with 14:01 left in the contest. The Flames soon knotted the score up when Dikembe Dixson splashed down one of his two three-pointers just over three minutes later.

With 9:14 remaining in regulation, UIC grabbed the lead for good.

On the offensive end, Dixson and Gabe Snider were paramount to the second-half comeback. Dixson scored 17 points, including eight from the free-throw line, and Snider buried three of his five three-point attempts down the stretch.

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