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DALLAS_The pushing and shoving began well before tipoff. As the Illinois-Chicago players huddled at midcourt for their pregame solidarity ritual, the Oklahoma Sooners, heading out to do the same thing, apparently thought their personal space had been invaded.
There was some jockeying for position, and feisty 5-foot-10-inch sophomore Flames guard Martell Bailey, who is used to clearing out space in the key, refused to yield his piece of the floor. "We were there first," he said. "Coach told us, `Don't fear anyone.""
UIC didn't play scared, but bravery doesn't automatically bring the favorable bounce or make punishment from a bigger, stronger, faster team any …