By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – On Thanksgiving Night, Green Bay (3-1) put five players in double figures in one of the best offensive efforts in recent program history en route to a 97-89 victory over Pepperdine in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. Green Bay’s Black Friday present for Thursday’s win is a semifinal matchup with Harvard (5-1), the three-time defending champions in the Ivy League.
Green Bay and Harvard will meet at 11:05 p.m. CT on Friday night in a contest televised nationally by CBS Sports Network with Brent Stover (play-by-play) and Pete Gillen (color analyst) on the call. The Crimson is receiving voted in both nationwide top-25 polls and ranks No. 4 in the College Insider Mid-Major Top-25. The Phoenix ranks No. 15 in the Mid-Major Poll.
Junior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) made all 12 of his free throws on Thursday and led the Phoenix with 23 points. Senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) finished with 20 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and junior Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) tied his career high with 18 points. Carrington Love (15) and Vince Garrett (11) each came off the bench to reach double figures for Green Bay, which shot 10-of-19 from long range.
On the defensive end, the Phoenix overcame a hot shooting Pepperdine squad by tallying 13 steals and 11 blocked shots. The 24 combined blocks and steals are the most in program history, with the 13 steals being tied for the 10th most all-time and the 11 blocks ranking third.
GREEN BAY PROBABLE STARTERS
G – #24 Keifer Sykes, G, Jr., 5-11, 175
G – #5 Lamin Fulton, G, Jr., 5-10, 175
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: For fans who are unable to watch Friday’s game on CBS College Sports, a radio broadcast of the contest will be available on WNFL 1440 AM and GreenBayPhoenix.com (live audio) with Matt Menzl (play-by-play) and Andrew Gavin (analyst) on the call.
PHO SLAMMA JAMMA: The Anchorage Daily News tabbed the Phoenix as Pho Slamma Jamma in Friday morning’s paper, recognizing the team’s high-flying style and highlight reel dunks. Green Bay had five dunks on Thursday, with three coming from Mays and the other two thrown down by the 5-foot-11 Sykes. Sporting his 44.5 inch vertical, Sykes has at least one dunk in every game this season and a team-high eight of the team’s 17 dunks this season.
FILL IT UP: Green Bay’s 97 points mark the most scored by the program since tallying 106 against Northern Michigan on Dec. 29, 2005. The Phoenix has now 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).
SCORELESS STATLINE: With 97 points scored and five players in double figures, it is surprising that one of the most impressive stat lines came from a player who finished with zero in the scoring column. Sophomore Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) played 30 minutes and totaled seven rebounds, six steals, four assists and three blocked shots without committing a turnover.
BLOCK PARTY: Green Bay came to Anchorage as the nation’s top shot-blocking team at 10.33 blocks per game, and delivered an 11-block effort on Thursday. Senior Alec Brown, junior Greg Mays and sophomore Jordan Fouse each blocked three shots in the win. On the season, Brown has 17 blocks this season, Fouse has 12 and Mays has tallied seven blocks. Of the top-9 single-game team block shots efforts in program, four have happened this year (13, 11, 9, 9).
MID-MAJOR POLL: Green Bay has vaulted up to No. 15 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll after holding steady at No. 21 for the first three polls. Three other teams from the field of the Great Alaska Shootout are in the poll, including Harvard (No. 4), Indiana State (No. 6) and Denver (No. 16) all represented in the poll.
WINNING WEEKLY: Senior Alec Brown was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday. The 7-foot-1 Brown became the second-straight Phoenix player to win the weekly award after junior Keifer Sykes won on Nov. 18. Brown and Sykes are the first Phoenix teammates to win in back-to-back weeks since Ryan Tillema and Troy Cotton in 2008-09.
HANDFUL OF HARDWARE: The fifth career Horizon League Player of the Week honor for Sykes ties him for the most in Green Bay history with Jeff Nordgaard. He also ranks tied for 12th in conference history, with former Detroit star Rashad Phillips holding the record with 10. The point guard won the award once as a freshman and three times in 2012-13.
SPACED START: Green Bay played only two times through the first 14 days of the season, tied for the fewest for any team in the country. Only three teams (North Dakota, Weber State, Denver) waited longer before playing their third game. The Phoenix was slated to play twice on opening weekend before the HBCU Tip-Off Championship was cancelled.
COMPETE, DEFEND, REBOUND: This signature Brian Wardle philosophy was on full display in 2012-13 for the Phoenix. In Horizon League play, Green Bay led the conference in rebounding margin, field goal percentage defense and blocked shots. So far this season, Green Bay is carrying over the mantra. Green Bay holds a plus-7.3 rebounding margin, is blocking 10.33 shots per game, and its three opponents have combined to shoot just 33.9 percent from the field.
IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN: Senior Alec Brown opened this season in select company as the nation’s only active player with 1,200-plus points, 600-plus rebounds and 200-plus blocks. Brown is only the second player in HL history to accumulate those numbers and is on pace to be the first league player to finish his career with 1,500 points, 750 rebounds and 250 blocks.
CLOSE TO A GRAND: With 960 career points, Sykes is closing in on becoming the program’s 26th member of the 1,000-point club. He is on pace to reach 1,000 points faster than all but two players in the program’s Division I history - Tony Bennett (56 games) and Richard Sims (68). Only five players in program history at any level have scored more points through 68 games than Sykes. Transfer Ray Willis (1969-71) was the fastest player to reach 1,000 points, doing so as a junior and senior in a remarkable 39 games.
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