Horizon League's Hottest Team Opens Tourney Tuesday at YSU

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
         
Release: February 27, 2012
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Junior Brennan Cougill had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the last meeting against YSU.

By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GreenBayPhoenix.com

GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - On Jan. 22, Green Bay left the Beeghly Center in Youngstown embarassed by a 77-47 loss and losers of six of its last seven games. Head coach Brian Wardle brought his team together for some soul searching, still confident that the Phoenix was getting better and capable of playing its best basketball down the stretch.

Since that day in Ohio, Green Bay has won eight of its last 10 games, including a 71-65 home victory over Youngstown State on Feb. 14 to begin a current five-game winning streak. Now the Horizon League's hottest team, seventh-seeded Green Bay (15-14, 10-8 HL) opens the conference tournament Tuesday night at 6:05 p.m. at sixth-seeded Youngstown State (15-14, 10-8 HL).

Tuesday's game can be seen live for free on HorizonLeague.org. To watch, click here. The game will also be broadcast live on WDUZ The Fan with the pregame show beginning at approximately 5:45 p.m. CT. Matt Menzl and Andrew Gavin will be on the call for the radio broadcast. To listen live online, click here.

Green Bay's run has mirrored a similarly impressive streak by freshman point guard Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.). In the 10 games since the loss at YSU, Sykes has scored in double figures all 10 times while averaging 15.7 points and 5.8 assists per game.

In Green Bay's sweep of Chicago last weekend, Sykes averaged 20 points and seven assists. The Chciago native scored a career-high 27 points and added six assists in a 71-63 win at UIC last Saturday and was named co-Horizon League Player of the Week Monday.

The Phoenix and the Penguins split a pair of games this season, with junior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) averaging 13 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two contests. Youngstown State shot 47.5 percent (19-40) from three in the games. Junior guard Blake Allen averaged a team-high 19.5 points.   

 

• INSIDE THE SERIES: Green Bay leads the all-time series with Youngstown State 24-7, including a split this season. Green Bay is 3-1 in the Horizon League Tournament against the Penguins, with the last meeting resulting in an 81-67 Phoenix win in Green Bay in the 2010 tournament. All four of the previous four meetings have taken place in Green Bay. 

• SPLIT SERIES: Green Bay and YSU split the two meetings this season, with the Penguins posting a 30-point home win and Green Bay responding to win 71-65 at the Resch Center two weeks ago. YSU shot the lights out in the contest at the Beeghly Center, making 12-of-24 three-pointers. The Phoenix got historic double-doubles from junior Brennan Cougill (17 points/11 rebounds) and freshman Keifer Sykes (17 points/10 assists) in the victory in Green Bay.

• PHOENIX IN THE POSTSEASON: Green Bay's overall record in the Horizon League Tournament is 12-15. This is the fourth time that the Phoenix has gone into conference tourney as the seventh seed. Green Bay has lost the three previous times, including a 60-50 loss at Wright State as the seventh seed last season.

• PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME: With five wins in a row and eight in its last 10 games, Green Bay will go into the Horizon League Tournament as the hottest team in the conference. In those 10 games, the Phoenix has hit 70 points on eight different occasions and averaged 69.7 per game. Green Bay is shooting 45.5 percent from the field, 42.6 percent (66-155) from the three-point line and 76.7 percent from the free-throw line (145-189). Four players - Sykes (15.7), Brown (14.1), Cougill (11.5) and Cerroni (11.2) - have averaged in double figures over those 10 games, with all four players leading the team in scoring at least once.

• BROWN AMONG LEAGUE'S BEST: Sophomore Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team after a stellar regular season. The versatile Phoenix big man was impressive on both ends of the floor, ranking in the top-10 in the league in points (6th), rebounding (2nd), blocked shots (2nd) and free-throw percentage (6th). He was a second-team selection in the preseason.

• HONORED...BUT SNUBBED: Sykes played at an All-League and Newcomer of the Year level as a freshman point guard this season, but did not land either award. The freshman was named to the All-Newcomer Team after a remarkable freshman campaign. Sykes is averaging 15.2 points and 4.8 assists per game since turning 18 on Dec. 30, reaching double figures in 15 of 16 games in that stretch. In league play, he ranks eighth in scoring, third in assists and is tied for first in assist-to-TO ratio.

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