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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Resch Center (9,729) -- Green Bay, Wisconsin. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Milwaukee 7-6, Green Bay 13-2. Away Record: Milwaukee 8-6, Green Bay 9-2. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 4-1, Green Bay 2-1. Conference Record: Milwaukee 7-9, Green Bay 14-2. Series Record: Green Bay leads, 30-22.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded Green Bay Phoenix will begin their stay in the Horizon League Tournament on Saturday night when they do battle with the fifth-seeded Milwaukee Panthers at the Resch Center.
The winner will advance to Sunday's championship game to take on the survivor of the Wright State/Cleveland State matchup.
Milwaukee pulled off a minor upset over fourth-seeded Valparaiso in the quarterfinals on Friday, as it won easily, 74-57, for its third straight win on the heels of a four-game losing streak in late February. The Panthers are now a solid 19-13 overall this season and have performed well on the road at 8-6.
Green Bay earned the No. 1 seed, a double bye into the semifinals and the right to host the event by dominating the league from the very start this season, finishing two games better than any other Horizon League team at 14-2. The Phoenix closed out the regular season with five straight victories, including a 75-66 triumph at Detroit in the finale last Saturday, and they have been predictably outstanding at the Resch Center, winning 13 of 15 at home.
Milwaukee delivered one of Green Bay's two league losses this season, winning at the Resch Center on Feb. 8, 73-63, although the Phoenix still hold a 30-22 lead in the all-time series.
The Panthers cruised in their opening bout of this event on Friday night, running out to a nine-point lead at the half over Valpo and never looking back from their en route to the 17-point triumph. Oddly enough, they were outshot from the field, 48.7 percent to 37 percent, but they dominated the rebounding battle (41-19), which led to them attempting 15 more field goals than Valpo. They also were outstanding on their many attempts at the stripe (28-of-33). Jordan Aaron poured in a game-high 20 points, Matt Tiby knocked down all 11 of his free throws for 18 points and Austin Arians and Kyle Kelm netted 13 and 10 points, respectively.
On the season, Milwaukee puts up nearly identical numbers (.434 FG percentage, 70.9 ppg) as it allows to its opponents (.438, 70.8 ppg). Aaron leads the way with 14.4 ppg, albeit on just 38.2 percent from the floor. Kelm (12.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Tiby (12.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg) are mainstays in the paint, while Arians adds 10.8 ppg to the mix.
The Phoenix cruised to the nine-point win over Detroit in the regular-season finale by shooting an impressive 48.1 percent from the field, including 9- of-17 from 3-point range, while holding the Titans to less than 40 percent shooting. Keifer Sykes was the catalyst in the win with 29 points on 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 at the foul line. Carrington Love scored 11 points and handed out six assists, while Greg Mays also netted 11.
Green Bay has been a well-balanced squad all season long, as it shoots a lofty 47.8 percent from the field for 74.9 ppg while allowing just 63.7 ppg on 38.9 percent shoot, and a team with no discernable weaknesses also owns positive rebounding (+3.5) and turnover (+1.4) margins while shooting a solid 70 percent at the foul line. Sykes is the league's third-best scorer with 20.4 ppg, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 80.9 percent at the line while also finding time to hand out 5.0 apg. Alex Brown (15.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) swats away more than three blocks per contest, while Greg Mays pours in 9.9 ppg on nearly 58 percent efficiency.
Green Bay cannot be pleased with this draw, as Milwaukee is the rare visiting team to have won at the Resch Center this season, and a repeat performance for the Panthers is certainly possible. Still, the Phoenix will be extra focused to not let history repeat itself in this one and will use their fresh legs to advance to the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Green Bay 75, Milwaukee 68
03/08 11:56:49 ET
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