Green Bay Hosts Illinois-Springfield Sunday at Noon
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Sunday marks the final game of a four-game homestand, as Green Bay hosts Illinois-Springfield at 12 p.m. The Phoenix will look to continue to build momentum and post its first three-game winning streak of the season before its Horizon League schedule kicks off on Jan. 3 at Wright State. Green Bay has won two games in a row after victories at the Resch Center over Marquette and South Dakota.
The Prairie Stars will be the fourth-straight Phoenix opponent visiting Green Bay for the first time. IUS, which has not played since Dec. 13, has dropped three games in overtime this season, including two in a row. Illinois-Springfield is led by 6-foot-10 big man Dylan Sparkman, who is averaging 13 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The Prairie Stars score 72.7 points per game but have been plagued by an average of 17.6 turnovers per game.
After a pair of road games to start Horizon League play, the Phoenix returns home for another four-game homestand beginning Jan. 9. Green Bay hosts Loyola (Jan. 9), UIC (Jan. 12), Youngstown State (Jan. 17) and Cleveland State (Jan. 19) in an 11-day stretch.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX: Fans in the seats or those unable to attend Sunday's will be able to follow the action in numerous ways on Saturday night. The game will 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 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: Geen Bay is 4-1 at home this season after the victory over Marquette. In the past three seasons under head coach Brian Wardle, the Phoenix is 26-7 at the Resch Center, including a 16-3 mark since the start of the 2011-12 season. With 17 or more points in all five games, sophomore Keifer Sykes is averaging 22.0 points per game and is 45-53 from the free-throw line at home this season (84.9 percent).
2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sykes celebrates his 19th birthday today as the most recent winner of Horizon League Player of the Week honors, which he won on Dec. 24. The 5-foot-11 Sykes averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 assists per game in wins over Marquette and South Dakota and ranks second in the Horizon League averaging 16.8 points per game.
3. CATCH THE ROAD ACTION: As Green Bay starts Horizon League play at Wright State and Detroit, both games will be televised in Northeast Wisconsin by Sports32. The contest at WSU on Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. will have Chris Roth and Andrew Gavin on the call from Dayton, and the Phoenix game at Detroit at 1 p.m. is the Horizon League Game of the Week.
• 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 44 assists compared to just 19 turnovers in the past 11 games. In addition to ranking second in the conference in points, he is seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio and eight in assists.
• 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.
• HAULING IN 500: Junior Alec Brown 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 42 games. Brown ranks in a tie for fourth in the Horizon League in rebounds per game this season (6.8).
• HOME FREE: Led by perfection from junior Kam Cerroni (21-21), the charity stripe has been kind to the Phoenix this season as the team is 26th nationally in free throw percentage. Green Bay has been especially efficient at the line at the Resch Center, shooting 78.0 percent (110-141) from the line and making exactly twice as many free throws as its opponents (110-55). Cerroni is a perfect 12-of-12 from the stripe at home while Sykes has connected on 54-for-66 from the line at the Resch Center.
• HISTORIC WIN: Not only was Green Bay's 49-47 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.
• STIFLING DEFENSE: Green Bay played almost exclusively zone defense in Wednesday's win over Marquette, and the scrappy Phoenix stifled the Golden Eagles throughout the night, especially in the second 20 minutes. In the second half, Marquette scored just 16 points and made 6-of-22 field goals. The 47 points scored were the fewest by a Phoenix opponent since holding Loyola to 47 points on Dec. 3, 2011. Green Bay's 49 points scored were the fewest scored in a Phoenix win since beating Detroit 45-42 on Jan. 30, 2006.
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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