GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Winners of three-straight home games, Green Bay begins Horizon League play as one of the hottest in the Horizon League on Thursday night, playing at Wright State at 6 p.m. In opening conference play at Wright State, the Phoenix returns to the road, where it has not played since a 75-64 loss at Wisconsin on Dec. 12 and has lost all five games this season. Green Bay trusts that road games at the likes of Wisconsin, Virginia and Nevada have prepared it for life on the road in league play.
The five meetings between Wright State and Green Bay in the last two years have been decided by an average of just 4.2 points per game, with four of the five decided by five or less. The Raiders won all three meetings in 2010-11, but the Phoenix swept the two games a season ago, winning 57-56 in Green Bay on Jan. 14 and 53-48 in Dayton on Feb. 10.
Green Bay is led in scoring by sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.), who is averaging 16.7 points per game to rank third in the Horizon League. First-Team All-Horizon League big man Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) has been resurgent of late, averaging 14.3 points and shooting 61.3 percent during the win streak.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX: Fans will be able to follow the action from Dayton by tuning into Time Warner Cable Sports32. Chris Roth (play-by-play) will be on the call alongside Dave Cecutti (color analyst) for the television broadcast.
The game will also be carried live by WDUZ The Fan 1400 AM and online at thefan1075.com. The play-by-play voice of the Phoenix Matt Menzl will be on the call. Live stats will be available on GreenBayPhoenix.com. You can also stay up-to-date by following @GBPhoenixMBB and @GBGavin on Twitter.
1. ON GUARD: Green Bay's defense has been a major factor for its recent three-game winning streak. The team's last three opponents have averaged just 48.3 points per game while shooting 34.6 percent from the field. The Phoenix defense has also forced 42 turnovers during this stretch and held opponents to just 32.8 percent from long range in that stretch.
2. ON POINT: After inserting freshman Carrington Love (Milwaukee, Wis.) into the lineup, head coach Brian Wardle has started two point guards for the past three games. The move has worked as Love and Sykes have combined to dish out 32 assists while committing only seven turnovers. Sykes has averaged 17.3 points and 6.3 assists while Love has handed out 4.3 assists per game.
3. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENTS: Green Bay welcomes or welcomes back three key pieces for Horizon League play. Junior Daniel Turner (McCordsville, Ind.) returned against Illinois-Springfield after missing the previous seven games with a torn MCL. Senior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) will be back for the game against the Raiders after serving a suspension for violating team rules. Sophomore Cole Stefan (Minnetonka, Minn.) will be active for the first time after transferring for La Salle last December.
• HANDLE THE ROCK: Since a forgettable opener in which he committed eight turnovers without an assist, Sykes has been terrific handling the ball. After an eight assist outing against South Dakota, Sykes has now dished out 50 assists compared to just 20 turnovers in the past 12 games. In addition to ranking third in the conference in points, he is seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8) and assists (3.8).
• FREE AND EASY: Green Bay enters Horizon League play as the top free-throw shooting team in the Horizon League, and its 76.2 percent from the line is also 13th nationally. The Phoenix is 218-286 on the season and has four players with 10 or more attempts shooting at least 85 percent for the season - Kam Cerroni (23-23), Daniel Turner (11-12), Brennan Cougill (29-33) and Keifer Sykes (63-74).
• SULTAN OF STROKE: Junior Sultan Muhammad (Grand Rapids, Mich.) had the best game of his young Phoenix career against Illinois-Springfield. The junior college transfer made his first five three-pointers, all in the first half, en route to scoring a career-high 21 points. Muhammad ranks sixth in the Horizon League in three-point percentage at 44 percent (22-50).
• STREAKIN' SHOOTER: Cerroni carries a couple of impressive streaks into the contest at Wright State. The junior was the only Horizon League player to make a three-pointer in each game last season and has made a three in 18-straight league games. He has also made 38 free throws in a row dating back to last season (2/4/12), including a perfect 23-of-23 this year.
• HAULING IN 500: Junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) had one of his best efforts of the season against South Dakota. The 7-foot-1 big man was an efficient 8-of-10 from the field and made both of his threes en route to a game-high 19 points. Brown also grabbed eight rebounds to become the 14th Phoenix player to corral 500 for his career. He now has 506 career rebounds, grabbing 183 offensive rebounds and 323 defensive rebounds in 74 games.
• IN GOOD COMPANY: Sykes was added to the Bob Cousy Watch List as one of the nation's top point guards. The honor named after Hall of Famer Bob Cousy is handed out at the Final Four to the player named the top point guard in the country.
• HISTORIC WIN: Not only was Green Bay's 49-47 Dec. 19th win over Marquette historic because it was the first time the Golden Eagles had visited Green Bay in 12 all-time meetings, but it was also the first Phoenix victory in the series since Jan. 7, 1995 (50-48). Green Bay improved to 3-9 all-time in the series and, of course, 1-0 at home.
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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