Youngstown State (9-6) at Milwaukee (10-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Cellular Arena (10,783), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Television: HLN. Home Record: YSU 6-1, Milwaukee 3-1. Away Record: YSU 1-5, Milwaukee 4-2. Neutral Record: YSU 2-0, Milwaukee 3-1. Conference Record: YSU 0-0, Milwaukee 0-0. Series Record: Milwaukee leads, 24-9.
GAME NOTES: Horizon League action kicks into gear on Thursday night, as the Milwaukee Panthers entertain the Youngstown State Penguins at U.S. Cellular Arena.
Setting a new school record for wins against non-conference opponents during the regular season, the Panthers have already surpassed their entire win total from a season ago when they tallied just eight victories. The team has not played since taking down Alabama State on Dec. 22 by a score of 67-54. The triumph snapped a brief two-game slide by the Panthers.
As for the Penguins, a team which has just a single win in six true road games to this point, they closed out the 2013 calendar year last Sunday with an 85-59 blowout of South Dakota at home. It was the second victory in the last three outings for a team which begins 2014 with three straight road dates against the likes of Milwaukee, Green Bay and Illinois-Chicago.
With respect to the all-time series, the Panthers are ahead by a count of 24-9 dating back to 1974. YSU has won four straight over the Panthers, although Milwaukee still owns a 16-8 advantage in meetings since the Penguins joined the league back in 2001-02.
Kamren Belin scored a game-high 21 points, shooting an impressive 5-of-8 behind the 3-point line, while also clearing seven rebounds for the Penguins as they crushed South Dakota at home over the weekend. Shawn Amiker added 20 points and another seven boards off the bench, followed by Kendrick Perry and Bobby Hain with 17 and 10 points, respectively, as the team converted 10-of-24 beyond the arc and forced 19 turnovers on the afternoon.
Perry, one of the standout performers in the Horizon League, is living up to his billing by leading the Penguins not only with his 20.8 ppg, but also with 67 assists and 43 steals over 15 starts. Claiming close to four rebounds per contest, Perry is shooting not only 51.5 percent from the floor overall but also 40.0 percent beyond the arc, as the team averages 8.5 3-pointers per game.
During the Westin Holiday Classic at Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans a few days before Christmas, the Panthers easily handled Alabama State by limiting the opposition to only 35.1 percent shooting from the floor and 5-of-17 beyond the arc. Kyle Kelm produced a significant double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Matt Tiby did the same with 14 points and 11 boards, not to mention five assists. Austin Arians pitched in with 17 points and five rebounds.
Despite the breakout game by Kelm, it is Tiby who continues to lead the team in both scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg), although the fact that he has fouled out of four games means he has limited his own production. Kelm checks in with 13.8 ppg and 5.1 rpg, both of which are second on a unit that is scoring 73.1 ppg and limiting the competition to 68.6 ppg, as those foes shoot a mere 29.6 percent out on the perimeter.
Milwaukee has been a tough out at home this season and with the big front line handling the paint, the only chance YSU has is if Perry takes over and dominates as only he can.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Milwaukee 75, Youngstown State 66
01/02 10:33:10 ET