Through 16 games entering Friday night’s important Horizon League tilt at Wright State, Brian Wardle’s Green Bay Phoenix have been one of the league’s best offensive teams. Green Bay entered the game ranked second in the conference in scoring (78.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (48.1%), with guard Keifer Sykes and center Alec Brown being two of the key reasons why.
And that was once again the case on Friday night, as Brown (24 points, five rebounds) and Sykes (18, seven assists and six rebounds) led four Phoenix in double figures in Green Bay’s 79-69 victory. Greg Mays added 14 points and seven rebounds and Jordan Fouse scored ten points for Green Bay, which remains undefeated in conference play.
As a team the Phoenix were solid offensively, taking smart shots and that paid off as they shot 59.6% on the night. And when they didn’t attempt shots Green Bay got to the foul line, making 21 of their 26 attempts while shooting just four three-pointers (making two). If there’s one issue with Green Bay’s offensive performance it would be the 15 turnovers, more than two above their season average (12.4). However due to what the Phoenix were able to do when they took care of the basketball, those turnovers didn’t have the impact that they could have in the end.
Reggie Arceneaux scored 17 points to lead five Wright State players in double figures, but with the defeat they fall two games behind Green Bay in the loss column atop the Horizon League standings. And the separation gained by Green Bay is important given the league’s conference tournament setup. The top two seeds receive byes to the semifinals, with the top seed hosting the quarterfinals and semis and the title game being played on the home floor of the highest remaining seed.
Green Bay still has 12 Horizon League games to play, but with a 4-0 record (14-3 overall) and a two-game lead on the field (in the loss column) they took a step in the right direction on Friday night. And given the nature of conference tournaments in smaller leagues, it never hurts to have those games on your home floor.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.