GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Playing its Horizon League home opener at the Resch Center, the Green Bay men's basketball team kicks off a four-game homestand against Loyola on Wednesday at 7 p.m. as it looks to build momentum after a tough road trip to open Horizon League play.
The Phoenix dropped contests at Wright State and Detroit, the only two teams that opened league play with two wins. The Phoenix continued its good defense at Detroit by holding the Titans to just 37.5 percent shooting but were the victims of 42 Detroit free throw attempts.
In the Ramblers, Green Bay welcomes a surprise team but one that is coming off a disappointing home loss to Youngstown State on Saturday. Loyola is led by senior Ben Averkamp, a Wisconsin native who leads the team in scoring (15.9) and rebounding (6.6).
Sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) leads the Phoenix and is second in the Horizon League in points per game (16.5). Junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) had tremendous success in two wins against the Ramblers last season, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX: For fans unable to make it to the Resch Center on Wednesday night, the contest will be televised live on Time Warner Cable's Sports32. Chris Roth (play-by-play) will be on the call alongside Phoenix Hall of Famer Jeff Nordgaard (color analyst) for the broadcast, which will also be streamed live on the Horizon League Network.
The game will also be carried live by WDUZ The Fan 107.5 FM/1400 AM and online at thefan1075.com. The play-by-play voice of the Phoenix Matt Menzl will be on the call alongside Cordero Barkley. Live stats will be available on GreenBayPhoenix.com. You can also stay up-to-date by following @GBPhoenixMBB and @GBGavin on Twitter.
1. INSIDE THE SERIES: Wednesday will mark the 40th meeting all-time between Loyola and Green Bay, with the Phoenix holding a 24-15 advantage in the series. Green Bay swept two meetings last season, including a 73-70 overtime victory on Feb. 23 when Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) made a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. The Phoenix is 14-4 all-time at home with five victories in a row at the Resch Center.
2. HOME SWEET HOME: Green Bay is 5-1 at home this season after the victory over Marquette. In the past three seasons under head coach Brian Wardle, the Phoenix is 27-7 at the Resch Center, including a 17-3 mark since the start of the 2011-12 season. Sykes is averaging 21.0 points per game and is 49-of-57 from the free-throw line at home this season.
3. MAYS DAYS: Sophomore Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) has started the past six games and has been among the team's most consistent players. The 6-foot-9 Chicago native is coming off a career-high 18 points at Detroit, making 8-of-9 shots including five dunks. Mays is averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots and is shooting 66.7 percent (26-39) during that stretch with 11 dunks.
• LAST SEASON'S MEETINGS: Green Bay swept a pair of games against Loyola a season ago, with a 57-47 win at the Resch Center on Dec. 3 and a 73-70 overtime win on Feb. 23 in Chicago. Green Bay big men Alec Brown and Brennan Cougill combined to average 30 points and 18 rebounds per contest, making 23-of-40 shots from the field. The Phoenix shot 48.3 percent (14-29) from long range while Loyola hit just 26.1 percent (6-23).
• HOMETOWN HOOPIN': Sykes has had tremendous success in his last two meetings against schools from his hometown of Chicago, with both leading to Horizon League Player of the Week honors. Last season, in the regular season finale against UIC, Sykes scored a then career-high 27 points. He bettered that outburst in this season's opener, scoring 31 points in a 72-67 win over Chicago State. In his career, Sykes has led the Phoenix to a 5-0 record against his hometown schools, averaging 16.2 points.
• FREE AND EASY: Green Bay is the top free-throw shooting team in the Horizon League, and its 76.2 percent from the line is also tied for 10th nationally. The Phoenix is 247-324 on the season and has four players with 10 or more attempts shooting at least 85 percent for the season - Kam Cerroni (25-25), Daniel Turner (11-12), Brennan Cougill (31-35) and Keifer Sykes (75-88).
• RECORD STREAK: With two free throws against Detroit, Cerroni broke the program's record for consecutive free throws made. Cerroni has now connected on 40-straight free throws, breaking a record of 38 held by Matt Rohde (2002-03). Cerroni is 25-of-25 from the line in 2012-13 and his last miss came on Feb. 4, 2012 against Milwaukee. Cougill has made 20 free throws in a row, with his last miss coming on Nov. 17, 2012.
• HANDLE THE ROCK: Since a forgettable opener in which he committed eight turnovers without an assist, Sykes has been terrific handling the ball. With a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, Sykes has 56 assists compared to just 28 turnovers in the past 15 games. In addition to ranking second in the conference in points, he is seventh in assists (3.7) and eight in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5).
• 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. After two more threes at Wright State, Muhammad ranks sixth in the Horizon League in three-point percentage at 41.9 percent (26-62) and is averaging 7.1 points per game, good for fourth on the squad.
Single-game tickets are on sale 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.xom/tickets.
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