GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay men's basketball returned home on Saturday after a challenging road trip and in need of some kind rims and a big win over a streaking opponent with a stingy defense. The team was shooting just 22.6 percent from long range, a number that in part help keep the team's assist numbers down to just 12 per game.
In its 74-59 win over visiting North Dakota State, those numbers were reversed against a Bison team that came in allowing just 56.8 points per game. The opening possession ended with a Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) three-pointer off a pass from Sultan Muhammad and Green Bay was on its way to a wire-to-wire win. Nineteen assists and eight three-pointers later, the Phoenix had shot over 50 percent (9-17) from long range and placed five players in double figures.
"We beat a very good, very well coached team tonight," said head coach Brian Wardle after the game. "We had more legs under us today and we shot the ball better because of it. We moved the ball really well on offense, with great reversals and getting the ball from side to side and inside out. It was a good team win."
In his first career start, Muhammad knocked down 4-of-6 three-pointers en route to 13 points and junior Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) made 3-of-5 from long range and chipped in 12 points.
Sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) tallied four assists in the contest and led the five double-figure scorers with a game-high 21 points. Proving his ability to create his own shot, Sykes made all four of the team's unassisted field goals as Green Bay had helpers on 20 of 24 made field goals.
"It was a quiet 21 and I said that in the locker room, but that is what you want in a point guard," said Wardle. "With really good point guards you get quiet points. Keifer picked his spots and attacked when he needed to and pulled it back when he needed to. He was a good floor general out there."
With five coming from Cougill, the team's leader in assists, Green Bay got 12 assists from its starting frontline. Junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) had a career-high four assists while freshman Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) added three. Cougill (12) and Brown (10) were the fourth and fifth Phoenix scorers in double digits.
It was the first time Green Bay had placed five players in double figures since Feb. 12, 2012 at Detroit and the last time the team handed out 20 assists since Dec. 31, 2011 at Valparaiso.
Green Bay returns to the road to start a three-game swing on Saturday at Virginia, playing the Tony Bennett-led Cavaliers at 3 p.m. CT in a game televised by Fox Sports. Bennett, a Phoenix Hall of Famer, played for Green Bay from 1988-92 and is still the program's all-time leading scorer.
- Green Bay placed five players in double figures for the first time since Feb. 12, 2012 at Detroit.
- The nine three-pointers were a season-high for the Phoenix, besting the six the team made at Nevada (11/17).
- Seven different Phoenix players handed out at least one assist in the contest.
- Green Bay led the Bison by 20 on two occasions, its largest lead of the season.
- Green Bay won the tip for the fifth time in six games this season.
- With 12 points from Cerroni, Green Bay got double figure off the bench for the third time this season (Muhammad, Carrington Love).
- The Bison had season lows for a Green Bay opponent in points in a half (23, 1st) and three-pointers made (3).
- The Phoenix held NDSU's top-two leading scorers to just four combined points. Mike Felt was held scoreless (0-3 FG) after entering with a team-high 14.7 points per game. Taylor Braun scored four points (2-12 FGs), 10 below his average.
- Green Bay won its 99th all-time game at the Resch Center on Saturday, improving to 99-34 in its 10-plus seasons in the building.
- With two home wins in 2012-13, the team is 14-2 at the Resch Center in the past two seasons.
- Sophomore Keifer Sykes had his fifth 20-plus point performance of his career in second of the season.
- After 52 points (31 vs. Chicago State Nov. 10) in two games, Sykes is averaging 26.0 points per game at the Resch Center this season.
- Sykes has reached double figures in five of the team's six games in 2012-13 and 22 times in his career, including 20 times in the past 23 games.
- Sykes is 5-of-11 from long range this season after making just 7-of-30 from long range as a freshman.
- In 23 games since turning 18 on Dec. 30, 2012, Sykes is averaging 15.1 points per game. He averaged 6.5 points per game in 13 games as a 17-year old.
- Junior Alec Brown has a blocked shot in 45 of 68 career games and a Phoenix record 164 career blocks.
- Brown has scored 809 points in his career for an average of 11.9 points per game.
- Freshman Jordan Fouse grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and has led the Phoenix in rebounds in four of six games this season. He has at least six rebounds in every game.
- Fouse is the first person not named Alec Brown to have at least four blocked shots in a game since Randy Berry had four against Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2009.
- The freshman leads the Phoenix in rebounds, blocks and steals.
- Senior Brennan Cougill has scored in double figures in five of six games.
- The 6-foot-9, 265-pound Cougill leads the Phoenix in assists per game and is ranked in the top-10 in the Horizon League in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Cougill is also ranked 13th in points, seventh in rebounding, eighth in free throw percentage, tied for tenth in blocked shots and sixth in offensive rebounds.
- Junior Kam Cerroni is a perfect 13-for-13 on the season from the free-throw line to lead the conference.
Read a full season preview of the men's basketball team and watch a 1-on-1 interview with Wardle.
Full season ticket and Pick 5 packages 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.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.