By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Playing its final non-conference home game and in search of its fourth-straight victory, the Phoenix aims to carry momentum into Horizon League action by playing well against visiting St. Francis.
Green Bay (8-3) hosts the Fighting Saints, an NAIA opponent from Illinois, at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Resch Center. The game continues a five-game homestand, which concludes with Horizon League games against Cleveland State (Jan. 2, 7 p.m.) and Youngstown State (Jan. 4, 1 p.m.).
Getting impressive play from both of its All-Horizon League players, Green Bay has won five of its past six games, including two home wins last week over Tennessee Tech (76-49) and Fairfield (74-58). Junior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) continues to lead the team in scoring (19.7) and assists (4.6) while senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) has made 16 of his past 27 three-pointers and is averaging 15.5 points per game.
The Phoenix defense was stifling in its home wins last week, holding its opponents to a combined 29.2 percent shooting from the field and forcing 20.5 turnovers per game. On Dec. 17, Tennessee Tech shot 38.3 percent from two-point range and just 1-of-16 from long range. On Dec. 21, Fairfield made 37 percent (10-27) on threes but only 20 percent from inside the arc (6-30).
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: For fans who are unable to attend Saturday’s game, the contest will be available on the Horizon League Network (live video) and WNFL 1440 AM (live audio) with Matt Menzl (play-by-play) and Cordero Barkley (color analyst) on the call.
HISTORIC NIGHT: In Green Bay’s win over Fairfield, Brown totaled a career-high 40 points by making 12-of-17 shots from the field and 14-of-15 free throws. Brown is the third player in program history to ever score 40 or more points, and his effort was the first 40-point game since Tony Bennett scored 44 points against Wright State on Feb. 11, 1989.
MORE ON 40: Brown finished the Fairfield game with 40 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals. He is the third player in the country since 2000 to record those numbers (Illinois’ Brandon Paul and Florida State’s Al Thornton).
WINNING WEEKLY: Brown won Horizon League Player of the Week accolades for the second time this season on Monday. Including Sykes’ three weekly awards, Green Bay has now earned five player of the week awards in seven weeks this season. That total ties the 1995-96 squad for the most in program history.
STUFFING STATS: Brown’s 40-point night against Fairfield overshadowed the fact that the 7-foot-1 senior also grabbed his 700th rebound and went over 250 career blocked shots in the win. With 1,388 points, 700 rebounds and 251 blocks, Brown is one of only two players in the country to rank in the top-40 nationally in all three career statistics (Buffalo’s Javon McCrea). He is on pace to become the only player in Horizon League history to accumulate 1,500 points, 750 rebounds and 250 blocks.
BUILDING BLOCKS: With an average of 7.9 blocks per game, the Phoenix is second nationally. Green Bay has blocked 87 shots through 11 games and is well on its way to breaking the single-season program record for the fourth-straight season. Alec Brown (36), Jordan Fouse (22) and Greg Mays (12) are all on pace to block more shots this season than last season. Of the program’s top-12 all-time single-game team block efforts, six have been recorded in 2013-14 and 10 have happened in the past three seasons.
ON GUARD: Last season, head coach Brian Wardle’s focus on the defensive end came to fruition with the Phoenix leading the Horizon League in field goal percentage defense and blocks. Green Bay has carried over the strong defense into this season. Wardle’s squad leads the conference in field goal percentage defense (.379) and blocks (7.9) while ranking second in scoring defense (66.4) and steals (8.2).
GRAND THEFT PHOENIX: With 15 steals against Tennessee Tech, Green Bay came just one shy of tying the program’s record of 16. The 15 swipes tied for the third-most all-time and were the most by a Phoenix squad since Dec. 13, 1989.
STREAKING SOPHOMORE: Sophomore Jordan Fouse opened the 2013-14 season by extending two impressive statistical streaks. The reigning rebounding champion in the Horizon League has grabbed five or more boards in 30 consecutive games. At Eastern Michigan, the 6-foot-7 sophomore wing had a streak of blocking a shot end at 30.
TOUGH LOSSES: Green Bay has dropped three games this season, losing to Wisconsin (12-0), Harvard (10-1) and Eastern Michigan (7-3) teams that have combined for a 29-4 record to date. The Phoenix held second-half leads against both Wisconsin and Harvard.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: Green Bay has three different players in the top-50 nationally in a statistical ranking. Sophomore Jordan Fouse is tied for fifth in the country in steals per game (3.0), senior Alec Brown ranks 16th in blocks per game (3.3), and junior Keifer Sykes is 44th in points per game (19.7).
All tickets for the 2013-14 men’s basketball season are on sale now. For more information about season tickets, ticket packages and more, please visit the ticketing page at GreenBayPhoenix.com.
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