SULTAN MUHAMMAD: JUNIOR TRANSFER BRINGS TOUGHNESS, SHOOTING
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay men's basketball team heads to Tennessee on Thursday night to play its fourth road game in as many states this 2012-13 season, facing Tennessee Tech for the first time in program history at 7:30 p.m. CT. The Phoenix, in the midst of a three-game road trip, play at Tennessee Tech (Dec. 6) and Wisconsin (Dec. 12) to finish off a challenging stretch of seven of its first nine games away from home.
The Phoenix is coming off a 67-51 setback on Saturday at the hands of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. In that contest, Green Bay trailed by just four at the halftime break before the Cavaliers pulled away with a second-half run. Junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) and sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) led the Phoenix with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Tennessee Tech enters the contest at 4-3 after a 69-45 victory over Berea on Monday night to improve to 3-1 at the Eblen Center. The Golden Eagles played a Horizon League foe on Nov. 28, falling at Loyola 81-78. Senior Jud Dillard leads the team in scoring at 20 points per game.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX: Phoenix fans will have numerous options to catch the action on Thursday night, including a live radio broadcast on WDUZ The Fan 1400 AM/107.5 FM and online at thefan1075.com. The play-by-play voice of the Phoenix, Matt Menzl, will be on the call with Andrew Gavin. Live stats and live video will be available. You can also stay up-to-date by following @GBPhoenixMBB and @GBGavin on Twitter.
1. GREEN BAY VS. THE VOLUNTEER STATE: Thursday's meeting will be the first all-time between Green Bay and Tennessee Tech and only the eighth all-time meeting between the Phoenix and a team from Tennessee. The Phoenix has a 4-3 record, inc. a 3-1 mark against Austin Peay.
2. IT'S BEEN AWHILE: Green Bay has only played two times in the state of Tennessee, with both games coming 38 years ago back in 1974 (Dec. 5 at Middle Tennessee, L/57-73; Dec. 7 at Memphis, L/67-75). The last time the Phoenix played against a team from Tennessee was on Dec. 27, 2002, downing Austin Peay 74-69 at the Resch Center.
3. OLD FOR 18: Sykes entered the 2012-13 season as a starting point guard and a team captain. He entered as a Preseason All-Horizon League Second-Team. He entered the year after a season in which he scored 335 points (most by a Phoenix freshman since Bennett) and was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team. Amazingly, he also entered as an 18-year old, and he will stay that way through the first 13 games of his sophomore campaign. After playing his first 13 games at age 17, Sykes is now averaging 15.0 in 24 games as an 18-year old.
• FAST START FOR THE FROSH: Head coach Brian Wardle started a true freshman in the opener for the third-straight season, and freshman Jordan Fouse has made it look like a great decision. The 6-foot-7 Fouse is averaging 5.3 points and leads the team in rebounds (7.3), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.4) through seven games. He has led the team in rebounding in four times.
• FAIR AND BALANCED: Led by leading scorer Keifer Sykes' 21-point game, Green Bay put five players in double figures against NDSU. Muhammad (13), Cerroni (12), Cougill (12) and Brown (10) joined Sykes in double figures as five Phoenix players reached double digits in a game for the first time since Feb. 12, 2012 at Detroit. The 20 assists handed out in the victory were the most by the Phoenix since Dec. 31, 2011 at Valpo, a span of 21 games.
• DOUBLE THE FUN: In its Division I history, Green Bay has had two players post double doubles on just four occasions. Remarkably, three of the four have come under Wardle in the past three seasons. The most recent was against Southern Utah on Nov. 16 when Brown had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Cougill registered 17 points and 10 boards in the 64-52 win.
• STARTING SUB, SUBBING STARTER: Wardle decided to make a switch in the starting lineup prior to the game against NDSU, and it worked out well for both Sultan Muhammad and Kam Cerroni. Muhammad made his first start in a Phoenix uniform and made 4-of-6 threes and scored a career-high 13 points. Cerroni, the Horizon League's leader in three-point percentage in 2011-12, broke out a shooting slump by hitting 3-of-5 from long range and adding 12 points.
• SYKES SANS SOPHOMORE SLUMP: Sykes has picked up where he left off in 2011-12, avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump in the process. Sykes has reached double figures in five of six games this season and dating back to his freshman campaign has scored 10 or more in 21 of the past 24 games. He leads the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game, and after making just 7-of-30 three-pointers in 2011-12, Sykes has gone 5-for-11 from long range.
• BLOCK PARTY: In his time at Green Bay, 7-foot-1 Alec Brown has swatted 164 shots to shatter the Phoenix career record. With 89 blocks as a sophomore, Brown averaged 3.0 per game, a number that ranked in the top-10 nationally.
• ELITE COMPANY: Alec Brown was in elite company in 2011-12. Brown, then a sophomore, was one of only two players to average at least 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game. The other? Kentucky's Anthony Davis, who was selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Brown is a Preseason All-Horizon League First-Team selection heading into 2012-13.
Pick 5 packages and single-game tickets are on sale now with the Green Bay Athletics Ticket Office. For more information and to order tickets, please call 920.465.2625, visit the athletics department offices in the Kress Events Center or access GreenBayPhoenix.com/tickets.
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