Milwaukee (16-11) at Cleveland State (18-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wolstein Center (13,610) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: TWC. Home Record: Milwaukee 6-5, CSU 10-3. Away Record: Milwaukee 7-5, CSU 8-7. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 3-1, CSU 0-0. Conference Record: Milwaukee 6-7, CSU 9-4. Series Record: Milwaukee leads, 23-18.
GAME NOTES: Sitting alone in second place in the Horizon League standings, the Cleveland State Vikings try to keep hope alive for at least a share of the regular season title as they battle the Milwaukee Panthers this afternoon at the Wolstein Center.
The Vikings, who trail only Green Bay in the standings at the moment, lost to those same Phoenix a week ago by a score of 68-54 in the second of four straight home games for CSU. On Thursday night, the Phoenix wrapped up at least a share of the regular season title with a win over Valparaiso, so at this point the Vikings may just be jockeying for position for the league tournament.
As for the Panthers, they played just two nights ago against Youngstown State and went to overtime before being handed an 88-83 loss by the Penguins. Milwaukee is now showing a 6-7 league mark after losing two in a row.
According to CSU sources, the Panthers lead the all-time series by a 23-18 margin. The Vikings did teach Milwaukee a serious lesson in the first meeting of the season however, posting a 77-49 win on the road early last month.
Milwaukee, which was playing without a suspended Jordan Aaron, was led by Austin Arians with 28 points, followed by JeVon Lyle off the bench with 15 points, Kyle Kelm 13 and eight boards, and J.J. Panoske who pitched in 11 points for a program that has lost back-to-back decisions when taking into account the setback to Youngstown State a few nights back. The Panthers allowed the hosts to shoot 53.3 percent from the floor and control the glass, 39-27.
With Aaron out of the picture for several more games, that means the Panthers have to find a way to replace his team-best 14.3 ppg, as well as fill in the gaps left by his absence when it comes to passing the ball as well. Matt Tiby can help to add some scoring punch to his 12.8 ppg hopefully, but he has to be careful not to sacrifice his efforts in the paint where he leads the program with 6.7 rpg at the moment.
Against Green Bay a week ago, Trey Lewis produced 20 points for the Vikings on 6-of-19 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-11 behind the 3-point line, but he was the only CSU player in double figures during the double-digit loss. The team had trouble finding the basket from all over the floor, shooting just 21-of-68 from the field, 5-of-23 beyond the arc and a dismal 7-of-14 at the free-throw line where they were outscored by a 20-7 margin.
In conference games, Lewis is second on the unit in scoring with his 13.6 ppg, now only a fraction of a point behind Bryn Forbes (13.7 ppg) who has converted just 38.4 percent of his field goal attempts over the course of 12 decisions. Anton Grady steps up with another 11.5 ppg and is first on the unit with almost nine rebounds per contest and that has helped the program to beat foes on the glass by more than three per game.
Without their leading scorer, the Panthers are certainly at a disadvantage. Given that Cleveland State has had plenty of time to rest, prepare and is playing at home, all of those factors rolled into one should give the hosts the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 71, Milwaukee 63
02/22 10:47:33 ET