GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - No matter what jersey he wore on Saturday evening, freshman Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) was in complete control for the Green Bay men's basketball team. Due to a blow that left his head gashed midway through the first half, Sykes left the game three times and ended up putting on three different uniforms (#24, #1 and #11) against Butler in front of a season-high crowd of 5,820 fans.
Sykes excelled in each of them, scoring 14 points and dishing out seven assists to help Green Bay (9-12, 5-6 HL) to an 80-68 victory over Butler (12-11, 6-5 HL) in Horizon League action at the Resch Center.
The freshman point guard was not alone as he got help from big men Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) and Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) who scored 21 and 19 points, respectively, and each added eight rebounds. Late in the second half, Cougill scored started an 8-0 Phoenix run that turned a tied game into a 61-53 lead with 4:29 to play.
Butler refused to go away, scoring on its next four possessions. The problem for the Bulldogs, however, was that Green Bay kept scoring, too. In fact, the Phoenix scored on 13 consecutive possessions late in the game, beginning Cougill's three that broke a 53-53 tie with 5:50 to play.
After a three from sophomore Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) made it 61-53, Butler hit two free throws. Cougill then scored on a thunderous dunk, and Butler answered with two free throws. Junior Steve Baker (St. Paul, Minn.), who had 10 points off the bench, then drilled a three before Ronald Nored answered with one of his one. Sykes scored on a pair of free throws, but Nored then connected on a pair to make it 68-62 with 2:17 remaining.
With the shot clock winding down on the next Green Bay possession, Sykes drilled a tough pull-up jumper in the lane. Green Bay got a defensive stop, and Cougill hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 10 (72-62) with 1:33 left. The Phoenix closed the game out at the free throw line, where it made 25-of-30 on the night.
Cougill was impressive throughout on his way to a career-high point total. The junior scored his first basket of the night on a three-pointer to make it 13-6 early in the first half, and went to halftime with nine points and four rebounds. Cougill was 6-of-11 for the game, including 3-of-6 from long range and a perfect 6-of-6 from the line.
Butler used an 8-0 run to take its first lead (24-21) with 4:12 left in the first half. It was during that run when Sykes' head was gashed due to a collision with Jackson Aldridge. The freshman went to the locker room for most of the rest of the half, but checked back in with 56 seconds to play.
On the next possession, Sykes put the Phoenix ahead 33-32 with a jumper with 25 seconds on the first-half clock. Sykes' team would never let Butler reclaim the lead. The second half featured five ties, but Butler never led in the final 20 minutes.
Brown scored his 19 points despite taking just seven shots. The 7-foot-1 sophomore was 5-of-7 from the floor and made his first nine free throws before finishing 9-of-10. The Phoenix as a team knocked down 25-of-30 free throws, including 14-of-18 from the line in the last five minutes.
The 80 points scored by Green Bay were the most given up in regulation by Butler in 55 games, dating back to an 82-70 loss against Duke on Dec. 4, 2010.
Getting eight apiece from Cougill and Brown, the Phoenix outrebounded Butler 35-30. Eight different Green Bay players grabbed two or more rebounds.
Green Bay will complete its three-game homestand next Saturday, hosting Milwaukee at 1 p.m. for the Blackout Cancer Game. The Phoenix will wear black jerseys at home for the first time in its history, helping to raise awareness for cancer research and generate funds for the Bellin Health Patient Assistance Fund.
Season tickets, Pick 5 packages and single-game tickets for both programs are currently on sale with the Green Bay ticket office. For more information on ticket packages and promotions, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com/tickets.
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