Panthers Start Final Weekend Of Regular Season At UIC

Feb. 22, 2012

 Game #30 | Milwaukee (17-12, 9-7) @ UIC (8-19, 3-13)
 Date  Thursday, Feb. 23 | 7 p.m. CST
 Location  UIC Pavilion | Chicago, Ill.
 Milwaukee TV  Sports32 (Daron Sutton and Adrian Tigert)
 Radio  WISN-AM1130 (Bill Johnson and Kevin O'Connor) - Listen Live  Gametracker | HLN Broadcast
 More Information  Milwaukee Game Notes | Tickets

The Hot List
• The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team plays its final two regular season games on the road, starting with a Thursday night contest at UIC.

• The Panthers have won two in a row, including a 67-63 victory over Fairfield in Saturday's BracketBusters contest. Milwaukee also beat Cleveland State last Tuesday.

• UWM starts play Thursday in a tie with Youngstown State for fifth place, though Milwaukee loses the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Penguins. The Panthers can still finish anywhere from second to seventh in the league standings.

• Senior Tony Meier seems to have found his shooting touch over the last four games, making 11-of-21 from three-point range while averaging 14.5 points per game in that span. As a team, Milwaukee has made 45 three-pointers in its last five games.

• UWM is playing five of its seven February games on the road. This is the fourth-straight February where the Panthers will play at least five road games.

• Milwaukee has won 18 of its last 25 regular season Horizon League games. One year after sharing the league title with Butler and Cleveland State, the Panthers were picked to finish fourth.

• The Panthers are recovering from a flu bug that sidelined James Haarsma, Ryan Haggerty and Christian Wolf Saturday. Kaylon Williams also didn't start vs. Fairfield because of the flu.

• UWM has actually been battling injury troubles all season long. Currently, Ja'Rob McCallum (wrist) and Lonnie Boga (shoulder) are out, while Tony Meier (calf - six games), Evan Richard (back and ankle - six games) and Kyle Kelm (shoulder - two games) have all missed action this season. The Panthers have yet to play a game with what was expected to be their regular starting lineup in tact.

• Game #30
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team plays its final two regular season games on the road, starting with a Thursday night contest at UIC.

• About UIC
The Flames are 8-19 overall and 3-13 in the Horizon League ... UIC lost at Butler Tuesday night ... the Flames are likely to be the ninth seed in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament ... Gary Talton leads the Flames at nearly 12 points per game and he also has a team-best 85 assists ... UIC snapped a three-game losing streak with a BracketBusters win over Eastern Illinois Saturday ... the Flames are 7-5 at home, including victories over Detroit and Youngstown State.

• Matchup Notes
The Division I series between the two schools finds UWM with a slight 22-20 lead ... the two teams have played in some memorable and important contests in recent seasons, including five league tournament meetings ... the Panthers have won eight in a row in the series ... 15 of the last 24 meetings have been decided by eight points or less ... Kaylon Williams had 14 assists and 12 rebounds in a win at UIC last season.

• The First Time Vs. UIC
Kyle Kelm scored 18 points and UWM survived a UIC rally and poor free throw shooting down the stretch to claim a 73-71 overtime win Dec. 3 at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The Panthers led by 11 points with under five minutes to play in regulation but made just 2-of-11 foul shots in the final minutes as the Flames rallied to force overtime. Then, in the extra session, Paris Gulley made a three-pointer with just under a minute to play to put Milwaukee up 69-65. UWM followed by making 4-of-6 from the line while seeing Gary Talton miss a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.

• Standings Check
It may be the final week of the Horizon League regular season but not much has been decided. Valparaiso has clinched the league crown and hosting rights for the league tournament, but five teams remain in contention for second place with a scenario alive that would land all of those teams in a tie come Saturday afternoon. Milwaukee enters play Thursday in a tie for fifth-place with Youngstown State and the Panthers can still finish anywhere from second to seventh. The top two teams receive byes into the semis while the 3rd-thru-6th seeds earn a home game in the first round. If UWM hosts a first round game, it would be played in the Klotsche Center.

• Constantly Shorthanded
The injury bug has hit the Panthers all season long. Then Saturday, the flu bug struck. James Haarsma, Ryan Haggerty and Christian Wolf all missed Saturday's game - and didn't even come to the Arena - after being hit with the bug overnight Friday into Saturday. Kaylon Williams also got hit and required an IV before the game to work his way on the court. That episode added to a long list of injuries and illnesses that have sidelined a number of Panthers this season. The current "out with injury" list includes Lonnie Boga (shoulder) and Ja'Rob McCallum (wrist). Boga hasn't played a game this season and underwent surgery last month. McCallum played in the first six games before re-aggravating an injury he originally suffered, and had surgery for, this summer. Meanwhile, Evan Richard missed six games with both back and ankle injuries, Tony Meier missed six games with a calf injury and Kyle Kelm missed a pair of contests with a shoulder injury. In all, returning letterwinners have recorded 62 missed games because of injuries and Milwaukee has yet to play a game with its expected starting lineup.

• Ready For The Road
UWM has been spending plenty of time on the road over the final month of the regular season. In fact, the Panthers are playing five of their final six league games away from home, though three of the five are day-trips (Green Bay, UIC and Loyola). The good news is the Panthers have handled themselves pretty well on the road, having now won 11 of their last 19 league regular season road games. The idea of having to hit the road late in the year is also something Milwaukee is getting used to. UWM played four league road games in February last season and had played five league road games in the month in each of the two seasons before that.

• Tough Road Swings
UWM heads to Chicago this weekend for the fourth and final true road league weekends of the season. With the addition of Valpo to the league, the Horizon schedule has returned to a more traditional format, with Thursday-Saturday (or Friday-Sunday) road trips again the norm. And those trips are always difficult, even in years where UWM would have only one in a season. In looking only at league road swings that involve two games in three days since the 2001-02 campaign, UWM has won both games of a trip six times, split a trip nine times and been swept nine times. Last year, Milwaukee swept the two games on this Chicago road trip.

• The Home/Road Splits
Nearly every team in the country plays better at home than on the road. The home/road splits show the Panthers to be better in nearly every statistical category at home.

		Home	Road
FG%		43.0	39.6
3FG%		34.7	32.2
FG% against	39.0	43.8
3FG% against	25.3	29.9
PPG		67.1	59.7
PPG against	57.7	65.8
Scoring margin	+9.4	-6.1
Reb. margin	+4.3	-1.8
TOvers per gm	12.2	15.4

• Senior Salute
Three Milwaukee seniors - Tony Meier, Kaylon Williams and Ryan Allen - are all playing their final regular season games for the Panthers this week.

Meier is a four-year standout for UWM who has played in 114 games and made 92 starts. He is within striking distance of 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. He enters play Thursday with 968 points and 455 boards while he has also made 171 three-pointers in his career. Meier has been hot of late, having reached double figures in four-straight games while making 11 of his last 21 from three-point range. He is also a standout in the classroom, having earned Capital One Academic All-District 6 honors as a business major with a 3.65 grade-point average.

Williams has started 60 games in his two seasons and became UWM's all-time Division I assists leader last Tuesday night. He added 10 more assists to his tally Saturday against Fairfield in spite of battling the flu and playing off the bench. He now has 356 assists in his career and has 178 of those this season, a total that is just 11 assists off of the single-season UWM record. Williams also has 575 points in his two years in Milwaukee and, if you include his one season at Evansville, the guard has 771 points and 507 assists in three years of Division I basketball. Williams was on the league's all-newcomer team last season and seems poised to earn a spot on the all-league squad this year.

Allen was a key reserve a year ago and has now started every game this season. He has 405 career points and 234 rebounds and is nearing the single-season blocks record this year, having tallied 34 blocks so far this year. He set a single-game record for blocks earlier this season when he collected six against Marquette, a game in which he also had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

• A Decade-Plus Of Horizon Success
Over the last 11 years, Milwaukee and Butler have established themselves as the top two programs in the Horizon League. In fact, since 2000-01, Milwaukee has the second-most league wins behind Butler and those are the only two schools to average more than 10 league wins per season. UWM has been below .500 in league play just once in 11 years - only Butler and Wright State can also make that claim. And, Milwaukee has now won 10 or more league games in eight of 11 years while winning four regular season crowns. The standings over the last 11-plus years, including Youngstown State (joined 2001) and Valparaiso (2007).

			W	L
Butler 			149	50
Milwaukee 		128	70
Wright State 		113	85
Detroit			97	101
Green Bay 		97	101
Cleveland State 	89	109
UIC 			84	114
Loyola 			75	123
Youngstown State 	48	136
Valparaiso 		49	35

• The Last Time Out
Paris Gulley scored 19 points and Tony Meier added 18 as UWM overcame a shorthanded roster to claim a 67-63 win over Fairfield Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The Panthers led by as many as 18 points but needed to pull the win out at the end. UWM was minus three players, as starter James Haarsma along with reserves Ryan Haggerty and Christian Wolf were at home with the flu. Kaylon Williams was also battling the same bug and did not start but collected 10 assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Paris Gulley put Milwaukee ahead for good on a follow-up basket with just over two minutes remaining and UWM's defense did enough from there to give the Panthers their 12th home win of the season.

• Time To Step Up
The odds seemed to be stacked against the Panthers Saturday with three players sidelined with the flu and a fourth sitting in the locker room ill when the game tipped off. But, UWM instead got a wide variety of contributions beyond the scoring of Paris Gulley and Tony Meier. Shaquille Boga started for Kaylon Williams, who even missed his pregame Senior Day ceremony to get an IV in the locker room. Boga wound up with five points and an assist in 15 minutes. Demetrius Harris had three points, three rebounds in two blocks in 20 minutes off the bench, helping overcome the absence of Ryan Haggerty and Christian Wolf. And, Kyle Kelm made his return to the starting lineup in place of James Haarsma and had eight points, four boards and two blocks in 31 minutes.

• It's All About The Defense
UWM's defense has been good all year long and was at it again Saturday against Fairfield. The Stags wound up shooting 39.3 percent from the floor and made just 24 percent of their shots in the first half. The Panthers have put together a long list of stellar defensive efforts this season.

- 12 of UWM's opponents have failed to get to 60 points. That happened just five times all of last season. UWM has also now held five opponents under 50 points.

- Milwaukee has now held two opponents to fewer than 40 points, the first time in the modern era (post-1940's) that has occurred. UWM held three opponents under 40 points during the 1948-49 campaign.

- The Panthers have held 21 of their 29 opponents to under 44 percent shooting, with 15 of the 29 opponents failing to reach 40 percent. UWM has also held a pair of league opponents to under 30 percent shooting from the field.

- Milwaukee is chasing down the best defensive season in Division I history, with the current lows at 64.3 ppg (2004-05) and 65.1 ppg (2000-01). The lowest points per game in the last 30 years was in 1982-83, when UWM gave up just 60.7 points per contest.

- The Panthers have never finished a season holding opponents to less than 30 percent shooting from three-point range.

• Standout Players
A number of Panthers seems to be playing some of their best basketball of the season down the stretch. Kaylon Williams had 10 assists Saturday against Fairfield, the fifth time in his career he has reached double figures in the category. He has also had a pair of nine-assist games and UWM is 11-2 this season when Williams has at least seven assists. James Haarsma scored a collegiate-high 25 points and hit five 3-pointers in the win over Cleveland State last week. And, Paris Gulley averaged 18 points per game in UWM's two wins last week. The Panthers are 12-4 in games Gulley makes a three-pointer and 8-2 when he reaches double figures.

• More Notes
The Panthers have hit double figures in three-pointers made eight times, including the 13 they hit last week in the win over Cleveland State ... UWM has scored better than 80 points in three of its last five wins ... the Panthers are still shooting just 60.8 percent from the foul line but have made 84-of-116 from the line in their last five games ... UWM is now 7-4 this season and 37-22 under Rob Jeter in games decided by five points or less ... Milwaukee has won five games when scoring fewer than 60 points. The last time Milwaukee won that many times with less than 60 points was all the way back in 1950-51 ... the 36-point margin of victory against UNO surpassed the 35-point margin in UWM's win over Texas Southern and was the biggest since a 41-point win over Youngstown State in 2006 ... this is also the first time since 2004-05 Milwaukee has tallied at least two wins of 30 or more points ... the Panthers have had double-digit leads in the second half of three of their six league losses ... Milwaukee is 12-3 at home this season and is now 95-34 in regular season and postseason contests at The Cell since their return in 2002-03. If UWM should win a tournament home game, it would tie a Division I school record for home wins in a season.

• Up Next
Milwaukee plays at Loyola Saturday.



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