GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - For the first time in three weeks and just the third time in 2012-13, Green Bay plays on its home floor at the Resch Center on Saturday night, hosting Southern Illinois at 7 p.m. The Phoenix, the only Horizon League team to have played just two home games this season, kicks off a four-game homestand and will play eight of its next 10 games in Green Bay.
In conjunction with the game, the first 1,000 youth fans will receive a Titanium Phoenix Necklace presented by Baylake Bank. The contest will mark the first Festival Foods Family Game of the season, with adult tickets starting at just $8 and youth tickets starting at only $7. Hot dogs and small sodas will also be sold for just $1. After the game, the Phoenix players will welcome youth fans to the floor for Free Throws with the Phoenix and to sign autographs.
Southern Illinois and the Phoenix have met four times but the Salukis will be playing in Green Bay for the first time. SIU holds a 3-1 series edge and is making a return trip after Green Bay visited Carbondale in 2010-11 for a BracketBusters contest. In that game, the Phoenix fell 61-60 on Feb. 19, 2011. Only five players from either team that played in that game are on the current rosters - Green Bay juniors Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.), Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) and Daniel Turner (McCordsville, Ind.) and SIU's Kendal Brown-Surles and Diamond Taylor.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX: Fans in the seats or those unable to attend Saturday's will be able to follow the action in numerous ways on Saturday night. The game will 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 with Cordero Barkley. Live stats and live video will be available on GreenBayPhoenix.com. You can also stay up-to-date by following @GBPhoenixMBB and @GBGavin on Twitter.
1. HOME SWEET HOME: Green Bay is 2-0 at home this season with wins over Chicago State and North Dakota State back in November. In the past three seasons under head coach Brian Wardle, the Phoenix is 24-6 at the Resch Center, including a 14-2 mark since the start of the 2011-12 season. Sykes, who is averaging 15.8 points per game, is averaging 26 points per game and has made 21-of-23 free throws at home this year.
2. SYKES SANS SOPHOMORE SLUMP: Sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) has picked up where he left off in 2011-12, avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump in the process. Sykes has reached double figures in eight of nine games this season and dating back to his freshman campaign has scored 10 or more in 23 of the past 26 games. Still 18 years old until Dec. 30, the Chicago native is averaging 15.1 points per game in 26 contests as an 18-year old.
3. WELCOME TO THE RESCH: All four of the Green Bay opponents on the current homestand will be making their first visits to the Resch Center. Wardle's alma mater, Marquette, will visit Green Bay for the first time in 11 meetings on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Games against two first-time opponents - South Dakota (Dec. 22) and Illinois-Springfield (Dec. 30) - will wrap up the homestand later this month.
• ROAD TRIPPIN': Wednesday night's game at Wisconsin was the last non-conference road game for a Green Bay until a BracketBuster contest in late February. The contest also ended a stretch of seven of nine games away from home to start the season. The Phoenix has played road games in five different states and traveled over 4,000 miles during a 35-day stretch with just one home game.
• CHARITY CASE: The charity stripe has been kind to the Phoenix this season as Green Bay ranks second in the Horizon League and 29th nationally in free throw percentage (.759). The Phoenix has connected on 31 more made free throws than its opponents and has three players shooting over 85 percent. Cerroni has yet to miss in 16 attempts, senior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) has made 18-straight free throws (29-33, 87.9%), and sophomore Keifer Sykes is 35-of-40 for 87.5 percent.
• 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 until Dec. 30 when Green Bay hosts Illinois-Springfield. After playing his first 13 games at age 17, Sykes is now averaging 15.1 in 26 games as an 18-year old.
• FAST START FOR THE FROSH: Wardle started a true freshman in the opener for the third-straight season, and freshman Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) has made it look like a great decision. The 6-foot-7 Fouse is averaging 4.9 points and leads the team in rebounds (7.1), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.2) through nine games. He has led the team in rebounding in five times.
• SECOND CHANCES: Green Bay has hit the offensive glass extremely hard this season, grabbing 27 more offensive rebounds than its opponents. Led by Fouse's 21, Green Bay has four different players with 10 or more offensive rebounds (Cougill-20, Brown-19, Mays-14). The Phoenix corralled 11 at Wisconsin and have tallied 10 or more offensive rebounds in seven of nine games this season. The offensive rebounds have turned into a 109-85 edge in second chance points.
TIDBITS (FOLLOW @GBPHOENIXMBB ON TWITTER)
- Without a miss since Nov. 17, @GBPhoenixMBB senior Brennan Cougill has made 18-straight free throws #gophoenix #HLMBB
- Including his first 16 this season, junior Kam Cerroni has made 31 consecutive free throws dating back to Feb. 4, 2012 #gophoenix #HLMBB
- Sophomore Keifer Sykes has scored in double figures in 8 of 9 games this year and 23 of his last 26 games #gophoenix #HLMBB
- After playing 13 games as a 17-year old, Sykes will play 29 games at age 18. Thru 26 games at the age, he's averaging 15.1 ppg #gophoenix
- In a pair of home games at the ReschCenter, @GBPhoenixMBB's Sykes has scored 52 points and made 21-of-23 free throws #gophoenix #HLMBB
- Seven different @GBPhoenixMBB players have scored in double figures at least one in 2012-13 #gophoenix #HLMBB
- Freshman Jordan Fouse leads @GBPhoenixMBB in rebounds, blocks and steals and has at least 4 boards in each game #gophoenix #HLMBB
Read a full season preview of the men's basketball team and watch a 1-on-1 interview with Wardle.
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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