Green Bay (5-3) at South Dakota (3-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 14, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: DakotaDome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: Green Bay 3-1, USD 2-0. Away Record: Green Bay 0-1, USD 1-5. Neutral Record: Green Bay 2-1, USD 0-1. Conference Record: Green Bay 0-0, USD 0-0. Series Record: Green Bay leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Green Bay Phoenix try to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time this season as they clash with the South Dakota Coyotes in non- conference action at the DakotaDome.
Green Bay is coming off a disappointing 67-58 setback to Eastern Michigan four nights ago, snapping the team's brief two-game win streak. Following each of the earlier defeats suffered by the Phoenix, the team rebounded with consecutive wins, which is what it hopes for again this time around.
As for the Coyotes, they are dealing their second three-game slide of the season, having bowed to Kansas State by a mere two points, 64-62, back on Dec. 10 in Manhattan, Kansas. Prior to the loss South Dakota also came up short against Mountain West Conference foes, Air Force and Wyoming.
Green Bay won the only previous encounter between the teams by a score of 72-55 last season in Wisconsin.
The Phoenix were completely overwhelmed in the first half against Eastern Michigan, shooting a dismal 6-of-21 from the floor (.286), so it mattered little that the squad was able to rebound slightly in the second half. Overall, Green Bay knocked down a mere 35.3 percent from the floor and ended up with as many turnovers (18) as field goals. Alec Brown was the lone bright spot for the group as he registered a double-double consisting of 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Keifer Sykes accounted for 13 points as the only other player on the roster to convert more than three field goals.
Despite scoring a season low against the Eagles, Green Bay is still producing a modest 73.8 ppg, compared to 67.2 ppg for the competition. One of four players to have started every game, Sykes is one of the better scorers in the nation with 21.4 ppg, stemming from 50 percent shooting from the floor and 85.7 percent accuracy at the free-throw line. Sykes, who has made good on only 27.3 percent beyond the arc, has also delivered a team-best 39 assists. Brown (12.3 ppg) can project a solid presence in the paint, producing three blocked shots per game, but his mere 40.4 percent shooting from the floor and 63.0 percent at the charity stripe is less than optimal.
The Coyotes ran out to a 15-4 lead against Kansas State in the latest outing, but the team lost traction in the final minutes as the Wildcats surged ahead and remained on top. Trevor Gruis, who shot 7-of-8 from the floor, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds and also became the latest player to reach 1,000 points in program history. Adam Thoseby accounted for 16 points and six boards for the squad, but his 1-of-4 shooting behind the 3-point line contributed to the team's lackluster 4-of-14 showing out on the perimeter. Brandon Bos tallied just four points as he missed all seven of his field goal attempts.
Even though he struggled against KSU, Bos is still the leading scorer overall for South Dakota with his 13.7 ppg, shooting better beyond the arc (.424) than he is from the floor overall (.418). Gruis checks in with 11.8 ppg and is first with 6.4 rpg, but the area that continues to plague him is the charity stripe where he has connected on only 61.1 percent of his opportunities. As a group, the Coyotes are producing 68.8 ppg, shooting 42.7 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent behind the 3-point line.
As long as Brown can man the paint and provide some level of offense in order to justify his presence at that end of the floor, expect to see the Phoenix come out on top this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Green Bay 73, South Dakota 64
12/14 10:35:56 ET