Green Bay Set for National TV Battle at Wright State
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Continuing its four-game road trip, Green Bay (13-3, 3-0 HL) plays on Friday night against a Wright State team that finished just one vote behind the Phoenix in the Horizon League Preseason Poll. The contest is set for 6:05 p.m. CT on Friday night at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio, and will be televised live nationally on ESPNU.
The two teams enter their first meeting of 2013-14 in the spots predicted, as Green Bay is in first place at 3-0 and Wright State (11-8, 3-1 HL).
The Phoenix brings an eight-game winning streak to the Nutter Center after rallying for a 93-86 overtime victory at Milwaukee on Sunday. Against the Panthers, junior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) scored a career-high 34 points and senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) added 19 points and nine rebounds. That same duo has combined to average 43 points in league play and 39.7 points during the team’s longest winning streak since winning nine-straight in 2003-04.
Wright State is a perfect 9-0 at the Nutter Center heading into the meeting with the Phoenix after rallying for a 58-53 win over UIC on Monday night. Green Bay has won four-straight and five of its past six conference road games dating back to last season.
GREEN BAY PROBABLE STARTERS
G – #24 Keifer Sykes, G, Jr., 5-11, 175
G – #35 Vincent Garrett, G, Sr., 6-6, 220
F – #4 Jordan Fouse, F, So., 6-7, 225
F – #15 Greg Mays, F, Jr., 6-9, 222
C – #21 Alec Brown, C, Sr., 7-1, 235
LIVE COVERAGE: Friday night’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU and will also be available on Watch ESPN. Jim Barbar (play-by-play) and Malcolm Huckaby (analyst) will be on the call. On WNFL 1440 AM, Matt Menzl (play-by-play) and Andrew Gavin (analyst) will bring fans the radio call.
INSIDE THE SERIES: Green Bay and Wright State have met 48 times heading into Friday night’s game, and the series is tied at 24-24. The Raiders hold an 18-8 record in Dayton, including 10 of the past 11. The exception was a 53-48 Phoenix win at the Nutter Center on Feb. 20, 2012.
WINNING WEEKLY: After averaging 27.5 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds in wins at Chicago State and Milwaukee, Sykes was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday for the second-straight week, league-record fifth time this season, and Green Bay record ninth time in his career. Detroit’s Rashad Phillips holds the all-time record with 10. Sykes and Brown have won a program-record seven weekly awards in 10 weeks this season.
SYKES SET APART: Sykes not only ranks among the leaders in numerous Horizon League categories, but the Phoenix point guard is the only player in the country averaging 20-plus points and 5-plus assists while shooting 50 percent or higher from the field. His scoring average of 20.5 points ranks 21st nationally in points per game.
LAST SEASON’S MEETINGS: In two meetings last season, Wright State swept the Phoenix. The Raiders won 64-53 in Dayton on Jan. 3 in the Horizon League opener for both teams, and WSU rallied multiple times to win 70-68 in double overtime at the Resch Center on Feb. 7. Brown and Sykes combined to shoot 36 free throws in the two games but also shot just 10-of-39 from the field.
HANDLE THE ROCK: In the past three three games, Sykes has dished out 23 assists while committing only two turnovers in 107 minutes. Against Milwaukee, the point guard played 43 minutes without a miscue. Sykes leads the Horizon League in assists (5.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.1) and ranks 23rd nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES: Green Bay enters Friday’s game leading the Horizon League and ranked 10th nationally in defensive field goal percentage (37.8%). Offensively, the Phoenix ranks second in the conference and 33rd nationally in field goal percentage (.481). Green Bay has shot 55 percent or higher in four of the past five games.
BLOCK PARTY: Green Bay has blocked 124 shots in 16 games this season. The 117 blocks are the third-most in a single season in program history, behind only the school-record total of 162 last season and the . With an average 7.8 rejections per game, the Phoenix ranks second nationally in blocks per game behind only St. John’s (8.8).
BROWN’S BLOCKS: Brown is having the best season of his career, which includes blocks. Averaging 3.4 per game, the 7-foot-1 senior ranks 12th nationally. With 55 blocks in 2013-14, Brown is on pace to break his own school record of 89, set in 2011-12. Brown now owns each of the top-four spots on the program’s single-season blocks chart (55, 59, 67, 89).
RECORDS IN REACH: Brown will be chasing a couple of records as his senior season continues. With 270 career blocks, Brown needs 44 more to break the Horizon League record of 309 set last season by Youngstown State’s Damian Eargle. The 7-foot-1 senior also needs just 34 more rebounds to break the Green Bay Division I record of 766 set by Terry Evans. The senior has been the program’s career leader in blocks since his sophomore season.
MOVING ON UP: Brown, the lone player in Horizon League history with 1,400 points, 700 rebounds and 250 blocks, now ranks ninth in Green Bay history in scoring (1,458 points). Sykes, with 1,202 career points, moved into 16th place with 34 points at Milwaukee. Against the Panthers, the junior passed Joe Mauel, Ryan Evanochko and Matt Rohde.
NORTH OF NINETY: Including the last two contests, Green Bay has scored 90 or more points five times this season. This year’s team is the first in the program’s Division I history to have reached 90 five times in a season. With a scoring average of 78.9 points, Green Bay is on pace to break the program’s Division I record for points per game. The team’s current average would be the highest in the program since 1971-72.
FILL IT UP: Prior to this season, Green Bay had not scored 90-plus points in back-to-back games during the Division I era and had not done so since the 1971-72 season. Including last week against Chicago State (98) and Milwaukee (93), Green Bay has now totaled 90 or more in back-to-back games twice this season. Green Bay’s 97 points against Pepperdine marked the most scored by the program since tallying 106 against Northern Michigan on Dec. 29, 2005. Against Minnesota Duluth and Pepperdine, the Phoenix scored 90 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 1971-72 season when Green Bay defeated Northland (Feb. 26, 1972; 106-71) and Milton (March 1, 1972; 98-80).
PHO SLAMMA JAMMA: In 2013-14, Green Bay has tallied 55 dunks through 16 games. Led by Greg Mays (20) and Sykes (15), the Phoenix has six different players with five or more dunks. Last season, Green Bay had 50 dunks in 34 contests. The high-flying Phoenix was dubbed Pho Slamma Jamma by the Anchorage Daily News during the Great Alaska Shootout. Check out a highlight video of some of Green Bay’s dunks this season.
MID-MAJOR POLL: Green Bay is appearing in two national mid-major polls. The Phoenix began the season at No. 21 in the CollegeInsider.com and has moved up to No. 6. In the Mid-Major Madness Top-15 poll which includes the Atlantic 10, Green Bay has vaulted up to No. 8.
DROPPING DIMES: Averaging 16.6 per game, Green Bay ranks 17th nationally in assists. Sykes leads the Horizon League and is tied for 48th nationally in assists. Fouse is the lone non-guard in the Horizon League ranking in the top-10 in assists per game (3.1). In three Horizon League games, Sykes is averaging 5.3 dimes and Fouse has added 4.7 assists per game.
FOUSE OF FURY: An All-Newcomer selection a season ago as a freshman, Fouse has been terrific in Horizon League play. The 6-foot-7 forward had 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in Green Bay’s league-opening win over Cleveland State. Fouse then had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals against YSU. Most recently, Fouse threatened a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists at Milwaukee. After starting the season shooting just 39.7 percent in the first 12 games, Fouse has made 64.3 percent of his shots (18-28) in the past four games. In league play, Fouse ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio and third in assists.
FIRST 50: The game at Milwaukee was the 50th of Fouse’s career. While starting all 50 games of his career, Fouse has accumulated 331 points, 403 rebounds, 117 assists, 99 steals and 75 blocked shots.
RARE COMBINATION: At 7-foot-1, Brown sports a rare combination of size and skill. Along with leading the Horizon League and ranking among the national leaders in blocked shots, Brown is third in the league in three-point percentage. After an 0-for-7 start to his senior season, Brown has made 22 of his last 43 from long range. The big man made just six triples in his first two seasons, but he is a combined 52-of-120 as an upperclassmen. In Horizon League play last year, Brown upped his percentage to 44.4 percent (16-36) to rank fourth in the conference.
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