Green Bay (20-5) at Cleveland State (17-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wolstein Center (13,610) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio, CSN-CHI. Home Record: Green Bay 12-2, CSU 10-2. Away Record: Green Bay 6-2, CSU 8-7. Neutral Record: Green Bay 2-1, CSU 0-0. Conference Record: Green Bay 10-2, CSU 9-3. Series Record: Green Bay leads, 40-27.
GAME NOTES: The top two teams in the Horizon League get together in Ohio this afternoon, as the Cleveland State Vikings host the Green Bay Phoenix at the Wolstein Center.
Green Bay had been cruising along with just a single loss in the first 11 league bouts, but then the team was tripped up last weekend by Milwaukee at home, 73-63. The Phoenix responded to the wake-up call two nights ago by pummeling Youngstown State on the road, 71-40, in order to remain one game ahead of the pack in the league standings.
Also in action two nights ago, the Vikings continued to keep the pressure on Green Bay by rolling to a seventh consecutive victory, taking down Illinois- Chicago rather convincingly, 73-53. It was the start of a four-game homestand for CSU, which is all alone in second place in the Horizon with a mark of 9-3.
Green Bay won the first meeting of the season early last month at the Resch Center by a score of 66-55 to kick off the league slate. The Vikings shot only 39.7 percent from the floor and 3-of-21 behind the 3-point line in the meeting. With that victory the Phoenix moved to 40-27 in the all-time series.
Since that loss to the Phoenix, Cleveland State has bowed only two more times by a combined four points to YSU and Wright State.
With still several weeks remaining in the regular season, the Phoenix broke the single-season Horizon League record for blocked shots on Thursday night as Alec Brown tallied three rejections, the rest of the team four more, to five the squad 185 for the campaign. Brown finished with a game-high 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting, followed by Keifer Sykes with 14 points, nine boards and five assists as the team connected on 54.5 percent from the floor and held YSU to a mere 31.9 percent, including 3-of-16 behind the 3-point line.
In conference play, Sykes is the go-to guy for the offense as he produces 21.3 ppg, adding 6.7 rpg and 59 assists to lead the Phoenix in all three categories during the 12-game run. Brown, who has teamed with Sykes to account for 25 of the unit's 44 3-pointers during league action, steps up with 16.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 32 blocked shots. Greg Mays contributes another 10.1 ppg to the offense, shooting 59.0 percent from the floor, as the squad generates 72.8 ppg and limits the Horizon opposition to 64.8 ppg.
Cleveland State got to the free-throw line just eight times against UIC two nights ago, sinking only three of those opportunities, but it didn't much matter as the team connected on 50 percent from the field and 10-of-18 behind the 3-point line in order to take down the Flames by 20 points at home. Trey Lewis led four players in double figures with his 18 points, followed by Jon Harris and Bryn Forbes with 15 apiece and Anton Grady 12 points during the blowout.
Sporting a balanced scoring attack that features four players putting up double figures over the course of 12 conference games, the Vikings follow the lead set by Forbes with his 13.7 ppg, although he is shooting just 38.4 percent behind the 3-point line. Having an even bigger impact is Harris who has managed to generate 13.3 ppg as a reserve in all 11 games in which he has appeared, shooting not only 65.8 percent from the floor in those game and pulling down 6.6 rpg, but also hitting on a staggering 21-of-33 (.636) behind the 3-point line, elevating the entire team to 45.5 percent accuracy from long range.
This could be the game of the year in the Horizon League with so much on the line between a pair of teams that seem to be doing everything right. Clearly the Phoenix have the edge on the interior, particularly at the defensive end of the floor, but the strength for CSU lies much further out and if the host can connect with regularity beyond the arc it should result in a victory for the Vikings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 68, Green Bay 64
02/15 10:29:15 ET