Youngstown State (9-7) at Green Bay (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Resch Center (9,729) -- Green Bay, Wisconsin. Television: HLN, ESPN3. Home Record: YSU 6-1, Green Bay 7-1. Away Record: YSU 1-6, Green Bay 1-1. Neutral Record: YSU 2-0, Green Bay 2-1. Conference Record: YSU 0-1, Green Bay 1-0. Series Record: Green Bay leads, 26-8.
GAME NOTES: The Green Bay Phoenix aim for a sixth straight win today, as they host the Youngstown State Penguins in Horizon League action at the Resch Center.
Outside of a 67-58 loss to Eastern Michigan on Dec. 10, the last month has been outstanding for the Phoenix as they've celebrated with seven wins in eight tries. The team opened conference play on Thursday night with a date against Cleveland State and dismissed the Vikings, 66-55, in order to move to 7-1 in its own building.
Also in action two nights ago, the Penguins were on the road at Milwaukee and came up short versus the Panthers in an 82-76 final. The setback was the second in three games for a YSU program that is in the midst of a three-game road trip that has them stopping off at Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday as well before returning home for a four-game conference run.
In a series that is now two decades old, the Phoenix lead YSU by a commanding 26-8 margin.
The Penguins trailed by double figures at the break versus Milwaukee on the road two nights ago and never fully recovered, particularly since they shot only 62.5 percent at the free-throw line in the second half. Nevertheless, Kendrick Perry still had a strong outing for YSU as he tallied a game-high 31 points, although he did shoot just 2-of-9 beyond the arc. Ryan Weber added 14 points and both Bobby Hain and Kamren Belin tacked on 10 points, but the latter shot a mere 1-of-10 out on the perimeter.
With his 21.4 ppg on 51.6 percent shooting from the floor, Perry is one of the more dangerous offensive players in the Horizon League this season. Not only can he seemingly score at will, he is also first on the unit with both 71 assists and 44 steals, making sure he takes advantage of every opportunity at both ends of the floor. Belin (13.0 ppg) and Weber (10.4 ppg) have combined with Perry to convert 100 of the unit's 136 triples on the campaign thus far.
The 66 points by Green Bay on Thursday were a far cry from the 91 the team put up in the previous outing versus St. Francis, but the end result was still the same. The Phoenix trailed by six points at the break, but stormed back with 63.2 percent shooting from the floor over the final 20 minutes, thanks in part to Alec Brown who tallied 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Jordan Fouse and Keifer Sykes tacked on 15 points apiece and 12 combined boards.
Sykes may be the leading scorer for the Phoenix at the moment with his 19.2 ppg, but his 28.2 percent effort out on the perimeter takes some of the luster off that lofty effort. Sykes is also first on the squad with 61 assists, but the player who probably has more to do with the team's success right now is Brown with his 15.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 47 rejections. His presence in the paint has been huge at both ends of the floor for Green Bay. even opening up lanes for Fouse to find his way for 8.5 rpg himself.
With Sykes, Brown and Fouse all forcing their will on opponents these days, Green Bay is a tough match up, particularly at home and that should be the case yet again today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Green Bay 72, Youngstown State 64
01/04 10:38:01 ET