Panthers Face SEC Tourney Champ In NCAA Second Round
March 17, 2006
Game #31 - Milwaukee (22-8) vs. Florida (28-6)
Sat. March 18 2:20 CST
Veterans Memorial Coliseum (14,000) Jacksonville, Fla.
TV: CBS provides coverage of all games - UWM on CBS-58 in Milwaukee
Radio: WOKY, 920 AM (Bill Johnson, play-by-play)
Internet: Live audio available at www.uwmpanthers.com. Live video and other features are also available through the website.
Tickets: The game is sold out. Fans interested in purchasing tickets through UWM's official allotment should contact the UWM Ticket Office at 414-229-5886. Priority is given to students and season-ticket holders.
Series Info: First meeting
Last NCAA Appearance: 2005 - Milwaukee beat Alabama, 83-73, and Boston College, 83-75; lost to Illinois, 77-63 in regional semifinals
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team plays in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, taking to the court Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., against Florida. The game, which is part of the Minneapolis Regional, tips off at 2:20 p.m. CST.
For the second-straight season, UWM finds itself still alive entering the second round of the NCAA Tournament after its 82-74 win over Oklahoma Thursday afternoon in Jacksonville. The Panthers had never won an NCAA Tournament game until last season, when they advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. And, Milwaukee is now 3-2 all-time in the NCAA Division I Tourney, with wins over Alabama, Boston College and Oklahoma and losses to Notre Dame and Illinois. UWM has just eight all-divisions postseason wins in school history, claiming two wins in the NCAA Small College/Division III ranks, two in the NCAA Division II ranks and now four (including one NIT win) in Division I.
Getting To The NCAAs
UWM earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Horizon League Tournament title for the second-straight year. The Panthers, playing on their homecourt in the tourney after winning the league's regular-season title, posted an 80-66 win over Loyola in the semifinals and an 87-71 win over Butler in the championship contest. It was UWM's third Horizon League Tournament title.
Success On The Horizon?
If it's March, it must be the time of the year where teams from the Horizon League make a name for themselves on the national scene. In fact, a Horizon League school has won now at least one NCAA Tournament game six times in the last nine years. Plus, two Horizon League schools (Butler in 2003 and Milwaukee in 2005) have advanced to the Sweet 16 in the last three seasons and the Horizon League is one of just eight leagues to place a team in the Sweet 16 in two of the last three years. UWM's success in the tourney over the last two seasons is unprecedented for any current member of the league. Until UWM added one win this season to its two tourney wins a season ago, no current Horizon League school had ever won three tourney games in a two-year span. Among all-time members, only Xavier has ever accomplished the feat, winning two games in the 1990 tourney and one win in the 1991 tournament.
Planting The Seeds
UWM's 11-seed in the Minneapolis Regional marks the best seeding in the school history. In Milwaukee's previous two NCAA Tournament appearances, the Panthers were a 12-seed. The seeding is also the best for a Horizon League team since Butler earned a 10-seed in 2001. That year, the Bulldogs pounded Wake Forest by 16 points in the first round before falling to Arizona in round two.
A New Face
UWM and Florida will be meeting for the first time in school history when the teams square off Saturday in Jacksonville. But, the Panthers will be facing an SEC team in the tournament for the second-straight year after UWM and Alabama met in the first round of the tourney a year ago. All-time, Milwaukee is 1-2 against teams from the SEC. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is playing in the state of Florida this weekend for the first time since 2000, when UWM played a pair of games at a tournament at Florida International and a single game at Bethune-Cookman.
Of late, a lot of the talk has surrounded all of the down time the Panthers have had, with 11 days off between the end of the regular season and the Horizon League Tournament and then another week-plus off before their NCAA game Thursday. Now, UWM will be taking the court Saturday for the second time in just over 48 hours. But, all in all, the Panthers have thrived in those situations this year. The Panthers went 3-1 in games where they had just one day to prepare, and their only loss was at Butler in overtime. In their three victories, they won by an average of 18 ppg.
Time To Find The Suitcase
It seems too much to believe, but UWM's trip to Jacksonville for the NCAA Tournament this weekend is the first road trip for the Panthers since mid-February. In fact, UWM's last road game came Feb. 11 in Cleveland and the Panthers took their charter flight back to Milwaukee immediately after the game. And, now, UWM finds itself playing what will likely feel like a true road game Saturday against Florda in its home state. But, even though the Panthers have spent plenty of time at home of late, they also got a ton of road experience earlier in the season. Milwaukee played six of its eight league road games within a three-week period and endured a stretch where it played six of seven games on the road. UWM's success away from home is one big reason why the Panthers have been able to stay atop the Horizon League standings for such an extended period of time. Milwaukee was 5-3 on the road in league play this season and 8-6 on the road overall. The Panthers have now won at least seven road games in each of the last four seasons and are 34-22 in away games in that span. Milwaukee's five league road wins this season were the most of any league school. Horizon League teams were 26-46 in league road games this season - 21-43 if you don't count UWM's 5-3 record. You don't have to look too far back, though, to find a time when the Panthers struggled mightily on the road. In the three seasons prior to Bo Ryan's arrival in Milwaukee for the 1999-2000 campaign, UWM was just 5-38 on the road.
Milwaukee is back in the tournament just a year after taking the nation by storm in sweeping to the Sweet 16. UWM beat Alabama and Boston College in Cleveland before falling to top-seeded Illinois in the regional semifinals. Milwaukee is one of 12 teams that reached the Sweet 16 last season that has returned to the tournament this year. Oklahoma State, Louisville, Texas Tech and Utah all failed to qualify for the tournament this season. This is also the first time a team from the Horizon League has made two-straight tournament appearances since Butler went in both 2000 and 2001.
Celebrating A Championship
UWM lived up to preseason expectations again by winning its third-straight outright Horizon League title. It's another step in the incredible progress of the program. UWM had never won a regular season Division I league title until the 2003-04 campaign. In fact, prior to winning the 2003 Horizon League Tournament title, UWM hadn't won a basketball title of any kind since winning the 1960 Wisconsin State Collegiate Conference title. This year's league regular season and tournament titles give UWM 13 in the 110-year history of men's basketball at the school. Seven of those crowns came in the WSCC, which was also known as the Wisconsin Normal Conference and the Wisconsin State Teachers College Conference, while the other six (three regular season and three tournament) have come in the Horizon League. The outright crown is the sixth outright league title in school history.
In Select Company
By winning a third-straight outright regular-season league title, UWM has joined select company nationally. In fact, Gonzaga is the only other school in the country that has won its league regular-season title outright for the last three seasons. Two other teams -- Nevada from the WAC and Pacific from the Big West - have won at least a share of their league title for the past three seasons. In Horizon League annals, UWM and Butler are the only two schools to have won a regular season title in the last seven years, with Milwaukee winning the last three after Butler won four-straight from 2000-2003.
Putting It In Perspective
In the midst of such a great run of success, it can be easy to forget just how far the Milwaukee basketball program has come in the last seven years. In the four seasons prior to Bo Ryan's arrival on campus, the Panthers tallied a 28-81 record, won just 16 games in league play and won just one league tournament game. The building process started when Ryan and current coach Rob Jeter helped the Panthers to back-to-back 15-win seasons, the first back-to-back plus-.500 seasons in 10 years. Then, Milwaukee went to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in 2002-03 and has now won three-straight regular season Horizon League titles. Milwaukee made the move back to Division I starting with the 1990-91 campaign and has collected 255 wins in those 16 Division I seasons. But, of note, 138 of those wins have come in the last seven seasons and 92 of those wins have come in the last four seasons.
A Regular Season Thumbnail
Expectations were high heading into the 2005-06 season for the Panthers, and they delivered. After surviving a difficult non-league schedule highlighted by a western road swing sweep of Wyoming and Montana, the Panthers dashed to the front of the pack by winning nine of their first 10 league games. Close losses at Wright State and Butler made for a tight title chase in the final three weeks, but the Panthers overcame an injury to Adrian Tigert and an unexpected loss to UIC to beat Detroit in the final game of the regular season and win the league title.
Looking At The Non-League
The Panthers put together an extremely difficult non-league slate, and those challenges seemed to pay off during league play. In fact, UWM faced three NCAA Tournament teams during the regular season, losing to Wisconsin and Memphis while winning at Montana. Plus, the Panthers also faced NIT squads Missouri State and Butler. In all, the unofficial RPI numbers say Milwaukee played the 21st most-difficult non-league schedule in the country. The most impressive RPI wins include a win at Montana (62nd), a pair of victories over league-rival Butler (82nd) and home wins over Hawai'i (100th) and Saint Louis (101st).
That Tourney Title
UWM's run to the Horizon League tourney title included two surprisingly easy victories. In the semifinals, the Panthers made a 17-2 run in the first half and then built their lead to 20 points en route to an 80-66 win over Loyola. Joah Tucker and Boo Davis each scored 20 points to lead Milwaukee. Then, in the title game against Butler, the Panthers led by eight at halftime and then by as many as 19 points in the second half in claiming an 87-71 win. The 87 points were the most for the winning team in the league title game since Evansville scored 95 in 1992. The Panthers once again scored off the court in the tournament, too, drawing 7,502 for the semifinals and 10,021 for the final. It's the fourth-straight year Milwaukee has attracted a plus-10,000 crowd for the title game. Finally, three Panthers were honored for their play in the league tourney, as Tigert was named the tournament most valuable player, while Davis and Tucker joined Tigert on the all-tournament team. Davis had the best numbers in the two games, leading the team in scoring at 19.0 ppg while also averaging 9.5 rpg. Tucker averaged 17.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg. But, Tigert earned the MVP nod after missing the final two games of the regular season and clearly sparking the Panthers. He averaged 15.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 4.5 apg while shooting 52 percent.
Filling Up The Awards Case
Three Panthers earned Horizon League honors following the regular season. Joah Tucker was named to the First-Team All-League squad for the second-straight season, while Adrian Tigert and Boo Davis each earned Second-Team All-League honors for the first time in their careers. Plus, Tigert was named to the League's All-Defensive Team. Tucker earned the first-team nod by reaching double figures in all but one game this season. He has a current string of 26-straight double-figure outings and ranks sixth in the league in scoring at 16.4 ppg. Tigert has posted career-bests in points (12.9) and rebounds (7.4) while tallying nine double-doubles. He has also shot a team-best 54.8 percent from the field. Davis emerged as one of the best three-point shooters in the Horizon League, making 85 shots from three-point range while averaging 16.2 ppg. The three players on the all-league squads are the most-ever for the Panthers, while UWM is the first school to place three players among the top 10 in the league since UIC had three honorees in the 2002-03 season.
The Panthers have now collected 20 wins for the fourth-straight season. That is something that has never happened in the 110-year history of the program. In fact, until last season, no UWM team had ever even tallied three-straight 20-win seasons. The Panthers have also long ago cinched a seventh-straight plus-.500 season, notable for a program that had just seven plus-.500 seasons in the 20 years prior to the hiring of Bo Ryan in 1999. The school record for plus-.500 seasons is nine-straight from 1965-66 thru 1973-77, and UWM also had another streak of seven-straight from 1953-54 thru 1959-60. All of UWM's winning has also led to a number of extended winning streaks by the Panthers. Milwaukee had an eight-game winning streak earlier this season and has had at least one winning streak of eight games or more in each of the last four seasons. The school record for wins is 26, set last season, and this season's 22 wins rank fifth on the school's all-time list:
2004-05 26-6 NCAA Sweet 16 2002-03 24-8 NCAA 1st Rd. 1998-99 24-7 NCAA D2 QF 1992-93 23-4 No postseason 2005-06 22-8 NCAA 2nd Rd. High Scoring
For the fifth-straight season, the Panthers have led the Horizon League in scoring. Including Thursday's 82-point effort, UWM has averaged 74.5 ppg. The Panthers have two players in the top seven and three players in the top 12 in the league in scoring, with Joah Tucker (16.7 ppg), Boo Davis (16.5) and Adrian Tigert (13.0) all appearing on the league charts. UWM has cracked the 80-point barrier 11 times, including two outings of better than 90 points. And, the Panthers are 16-2 this season when scoring at least 80 points.
Fabulous First Year
As the wins continue to pile up, first-year head coach Rob Jeter has etched himself a permanent spot in the record books. With the Panthers' 22-8 record, Jeter now has more wins that any other first-year head coach in the 110-year history of the program. Steve Antrim (1987-88) and Bruce Pearl (2001-02) each won 16 games in their first seasons in Milwaukee. Plus, this season Jeter is one of just five coaches nationally in their first year at a school to collect at least 20 wins, and one of just four first-year coaches to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament. Also, Jeter's 22 wins are the most of any coach nationally in his first season as a Division I head coach.
Jeff Bzdelik Air Force 24-6 NCAA 1st Rd. Rob Jeter Milwaukee 22-8 NCAA 2nd Rd. Bruce Pearl Tennessee 22-7 NCAA 2nd Rd. Dave Rose BYU 20-9 NIT 1st Rd. Buzz Peterson Coastal Carolina 20-10 Just One Of Many Titles
The Horizon League regular season and tournament titles won by the Panther men's basketball team adds to a growing list of league titles won by UWM athletic teams this season. In fact, the men's basketball team is the fourth team from the school to reach the NCAA Tournament this season and join the UWM women as part of "March Madness." UWM is now the only school in Horizon League history to win both the men's and women's regular season and tournament titles in basketball in the same year. But basketball is far from the only successful sport at UWM. The men's and women's track and field teams each claimed Horizon League indoor crowns just weeks ago. And, this fall, the UWM women's soccer team won both the regular season and league tournament titles, the men's soccer team won the tourney crown and the women's volleyball team won its third-straight regular season title. Plus, both the men's and women's soccer teams advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. But, being on top of the Horizon League is nothing new for the Milwaukee athletic department, which has won the McCafferty Trophy - the league's all-sports award - each of the last two years.
Another mark of just how far the Milwaukee basketball program has come is the growing number of national television appearances the Panthers have made. It was just four years ago that UWM had never appeared on national television, something that changed when Milwaukee faced Southern Illinois on ESPN2 in the inaugural Bracket Buster Saturday. Since then, UWM has made 16 more appearances on national TV. The Panthers' second NCAA game will mark their sixth national TV appearance of the season, with UWM having had a game on ESPN, two games on ESPN2 and a game on ESPNU so far this season.
On Feb. 14, UWM had a 19-game homecourt winning streak, the second-longest streak in the country. Then, back-to-back home losses to UIC (Feb. 15) and Missouri State (Feb. 18) ended the streak before the Panthers bounced back with a win over Detroit to close out the regular season on Feb. 21. But, with the addition of two more home wins in the league tournament, Milwaukee still has a sparkling homecourt record, something else that has played a major role in its recent dominance of the Horizon League. The Panthers are now 36-6 in regular season and postseason contests at the U.S. Cellular Arena since returning downtown for the 2003 Horizon League Tournament and are 87-58 all-time as the home team at the Arena. Also, combining games at both the Klotsche Center and the U.S. Cellular Arena, UWM is now 47-7 in regular season Horizon League home contests over the last seven seasons. This season, the Panthers finished 13-2 at home.
Adrian Tigert's absence from the starting lineup in the final two games of the regular season snapped a string of 88-consecutive starts by the senior. Tigert had started every game since the start of his sophomore season. But, Tigert is still the school record-holder in that category, having now made 118 starts. He broke the existing school record when he made his 112th start Feb. 4 at Butler, moving past Chad Angeli, who played from 1997-2001. In fact, Tigert is one of just three players in school history to have started more than 100 games. His career began as a true freshman in a six-point, five-rebound effort off the bench against Concordia-St. Paul in 2001. He then started the next 27 games of that season until a knee injury in the final regular season game of the season sidelined him for more than a year. Once he returned from that injury for the start of the 2003-04 campaign, he had started every game until Feb. 18. Meanwhile, teammate Joah Tucker has been in the starting lineup for every game of his UWM career -- a streak that now encompasses 93-straight contests. Those 93 starts rank him fourth in the school's Division I history.
More Tigert Milestones
Adrian Tigert has also been working toward a number of other personal and school milestones this season. He is now Milwaukee's Division I rebounding leader, as the senior has 752 career boards. He is one of just four players in the all-divisions basketball history of the school to tally more than 700 boards, and he ranks fourth on the school's all-divisions list. He trails Richard Cox for third place by six rebounds. He is also now UWM's all-time minutes played leader, playing 3,331 minutes in his career. He broke the record Feb. 15 against UIC, moving past the 3,222 minutes Chad Angeli played in his career. Plus, Tigert has been named the Horizon League Player of the Week twice this season -- the first two such honors of his career.
Keeping Up Appearances
Seniors Adrian Tigert and Chris Hill continue to move up the all-time appearance list in school history. Tigert has now played in 119 games, setting a new school record for appearances. Chris Hill meanwhile, made the 115th appearance of his career in Thursday's first round NCAA game, putting him in a tie for fifth place on the all-time list. There are now just 17 players in UWM history that have appeared in at least 100 games. Three players share the honor for having played the most games in UWM history, with Jason Frederick, Dan Weisse and Ronnie Jones having all played in 118 contests as Panthers, with all three players a part of UWM's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The top 10 all-time appearance leaders in school history, a list Tigert and Hill are both on:
Adrian Tigert 2001-present 119 Jason Frederick 1999-2003 118 Ronnie Jones 1999-2003 118 Dan Weisse 1999-2003 118 Chris Hill 2001-present 115 Kalombo Kadima 1999-2004 115 Into The Top 10
Senior Joah Tucker moved into the top 10 on UWM's all-time, all-divisions scoring list Feb. 2 at Wright State and continues to move up the scoring charts, tallying 1,407 points in his three seasons in Milwaukee. He is one of just 22 players in school history to surpass 1,000 points and is one of just eight players to pass 1,400 points. He is also fourth on the Division I scoring list, having passed Jason Frederick (1,185) and Ronnie Jones (1,182) in the last month of the regular season, and moved up to number nine on the school's all-time list in the league title contest. The top 10 all-division scoring list in UWM history:
Clay Tucker 1999-03 1,788 Larry Reed 1959-60/64-67 1,693 Jerry Grochowski 1957-61 1,688 Gerald Hardnett 1975-79 1,602 Tom Kneusel 1955-59 1,565 Tom Reikowski 1965-70 1,459 Chad Angeli 1997-01 1,417 Joah Tucker 2003-present 1,407 Dylan Page 2000-04 1,388 Dexter Riesch 1966-70 1,359 A Couple More Milestones
A few other Panthers have also been reaching some personal and career milestones of their own of late. Boo Davis just passed 800 career points and now has 822 career points. Davis has also gone past 100 career three-point field goals and now has 145 in his two years with the Panthers. Meanwhile, Chris Hill has now gone past 700 points (755) and 302 assists (302). His assist tally places him fourth on UWM's all-time Division I list, with Hill having just passed Ronnie Jones (273 assists) in the last month. Joah Tucker also now has 511 career rebounds.
Topping The Charts
UWM has enjoyed record-breaking success over the last few seasons and, in the process, has cemented itself as the top program in the Horizon League. In fact, over the last five regular seasons, the Panthers are 63-17 (.788) in regular season Horizon League contests. And, over the last four seasons, UWM has lost just 12 league games. The league standings for the last four-plus seasons, updated through all of this season's league action:
W L Milwaukee 63 17 Butler 52 28 UIC 48 32 Detroit 47 33 Wright State 39 41 Loyola 38 42 UW-Green Bay 37 43 Cleveland State 20 60 Youngstown State 16 64 Used To This Position
The recent success of the UWM men's basketball team in league play can be summed-up best by one streak. UWM has played 57-straight regular season league games where it has either been in first place or within a game of first place. The last time UWM was not in that situation was Jan. 23, 2003, when the Panthers entered a home game with Butler 1 1/2 games back of the Bulldogs. UWM won that game, moving to within a half-game of the top spot and eventually into the league lead. They've either been in first or within a game of first ever since.
Last Time Out
Boo Davis scored 26 points and Joah Tucker added 24 as the Panthers claimed an impressive 82-74 win over Oklahoma Thursday in an NCAA Tournament First Round game in Jacksonville. Milwaukee led by 10 points midway through the first half but had that lead trimmed to two by halftime. Then, the Panthers bolted to a 12-point lead in the first nine minutes of the second half and hung on down the stretch.
Milwaukee had no shortage of offensive contributors in the win over Oklahoma Thursday. In fact, the Panthers had four players reach double figures, the ninth time this season at least four players have reached double digits for the Panthers. Plus, with Boo Davis scored 26 points and Joah Tucker adding 24, UWM had two players score 20 or more points in the same game for the first time since Jan. 14 at UW-Green Bay.
Taking Advantage Of Charity
UWM coach Rob Jeter makes a point of stressing the need for the Panthers to get to the foul line, and Milwaukee followed the gameplan perfectly Thursday. UWM went to the line 32 times, converting on 26 of its opportunities. UWM has attempted 20 or more free throws in a game 20 times and has had 30 or more tries from the line on eight occasions. Plus, Jan. 2 against Cleveland State, Milwaukee tallied 45 free throw attempts. On the season, the Panthers have attempted 702 free throws.
Finally Getting The Big 12
Milwaukee's NCAA Tournament wins over the last two seasons have allowed the Panthers to break into the win column for the first time against various BCS leagues. Thursday's win over Oklahoma was the first-ever for UWM against a Big 12 school. The Panthers had been 0-8 against the league until Thursday. Last season, Milwaukee claimed its first-ever win over an SEC school and just its second win against a Big East school.
UWM's win over nationally-ranked Oklahoma Thursday marked the fourth win over a ranked foe in school history. The Panthers also claimed wins over nationally-ranked Alabama and Boston College last season and beat a nationally-ranked Butler team in 2002. Milwaukee is now 1-2 against ranked teams this season, having fallen to Memphis and Wisconsin earlier this year.
The Panthers are continuing their strong play since the return of senior Adrian Tigert from a lower back injury. He suffered it Feb. 11 against Cleveland State, played limited time Feb. 15 and then sat out the final two games of the regular season. But, he returned for the league tournament and earned tourney MVP honors, then posted a solid 14-point effort Thursday in the win over Oklahoma. The senior has averaged 15 ppg since returning from his injury and, in the last five games Tigert has been fully healthy for (two before the injury and three postseason games), Milwaukee has won by an average of nearly 22 ppg and shot better than 50 percent from the field in four of the five contests.
Pounding It In The Paint
UWM may not have won the official battle in the paint in Thursday's win over Oklahoma, but the Panthers more than held their own. Officially, the Sooners scored 47 points in the paint to the Panthers' 34. But, those numbers don't take into account how UWM's inside game generated 32 free-throw chances for the Panthers. And, UWM still scored at least 30 points in the paint for the 19th time this season. Overall, since the return of Adrian Tigert to the lineup, Milwaukee's dominant inside game has returned. The Panthers outscored Loyola, 46-22, in the paint in their league semifinal win, and then pounded Butler, 56-24, in the paint in the championship victory. The Panthers have put together quite a string of incredible inside numbers with the senior in the lineup. In the three games prior to his injury, Milwaukee scored 50 points in the paint vs. Butler Feb. 4, 58 points in the paint vs. Youngstown Feb. 9 and 48 points in the paint Feb. 11 at Cleveland.
Less Is More From Three
With Adrian Tigert and Kevin Massiah both sidelined by injury, the Panthers found themselves attempting 87 threes in that three-game span to close out the regular season. But, through much of the season, limiting its three-point attempts has worked out just fine for Milwaukee. In UWM's eight losses, the Panthers have attempted 188 three-point shots - an average of nearly 24 per game - while shooting just 25 percent from the arc. In their 22 wins, the Panthers have attempted 401 three-point shots - an average of just 18 per game - while shooting better than 38 percent from long range. And, despite six fewer attempts per game in their wins, the Panthers average scoring 21 ppg from beyond the arc in victories while averaging just over 18 ppg from three in their losses.
Getting Back The Touch
UWM shot better than 50 percent in each of its league tournament victories and then shot a solid 45.5 percent from the field in the win Thursday over Oklahoma, adding to a string of strong offensive games for Milwaukee. The Panthers have now shot 50 percent or better from the field eight times and are 14-0 when shooting at least 45 percent from the field. The Panthers have also been much more efficient on offense with Adrian Tigert in the lineup. UWM shot better than 50 percent vs. both Youngstown State and Cleveland State in mid-February prior to Tigert's injury, then shot 41.4 percent or less in the three games where Tigert was either limited or sidelined. They've been back above 50 percent twice since his return.
If it's NCAA Tournament time, it's likely senior Joah Tucker will be at his best. He scored 24 points in the win Thursday and has now scored 20 or more points in all four NCAA Tournament games of his career. He has now reached double-figures in 27-straight outings and has reached double figures in all but one game this season. He has also reached double digits in 34 of his last 35 games dating back to last season. In addition to earning First-Team All-Horizon League honors and Horizon League All-Tournament honors, Tucker was honored last week as one of 20 Mid-Major All-Americans by CollegeInsider.com.
Boo Can Be Scary Good
Boo Davis was back on top of the scoring charts for the Panthers in Thursday's first round NCAA Tournament win, as the senior poured in a game-high 26 points. He is now averaging more than 20 ppg in his last eight outings, including a career-high 31 points Feb. 15 against UIC. Davis has had a habit of posting some big nights for the Panthers, scoring 20 or more points 13 times while reaching double figures offensively in 25 of 30 games. Davis has a knack for big plays in the second half of games, tallying 21 points and eight rebounds in the second half at South Dakota State, 18 points in the second half at Montana and 16 points in the second half at Youngstown State. He also set a Kohl Center-record with seven three-point baskets in a loss at Wisconsin. Davis' biggest improvement has come in his ability to drive to the basket and get to the rim. Davis has shot 122 free throws this season after shooting just 59 all of last season.
Correcting The Turnover Troubles
UWM's two-game losing streak late in the season came about for a number of reasons. But, one obvious number that was not going the Panthers' way was in the turnover column. UWM collected 19 turnovers against UIC Feb. 15 and then had 22 turnovers in the loss to Missouri State. The Panthers have gotten back on track in that category since then, averaging 13 turnovers per game in the last four outings, including just 12 turnovers against Oklahoma Thursday. For the season, UWM is averaging under 14 turnovers per game and has committed 12 or fewer turnovers 14 times. Milwaukee is 19-3 when committing 15 turnovers or less. Meanwhile, the Panthers continue to do a stellar job of forcing turnovers. They have now reached double figures in steals seven times this season and have had at least seven steals 17 times. UWM forces an average of 15.4 turnovers per game and opponents have had fewer than 10 turnovers only three times.
Plenty Of Second Chances
UWM tallied 10 more offensive rebounds Thursday in the win over Oklahoma and has now reached double figures in offensive rebounds in all but three games this season. The Panthers have 438 offensive boards overall, an average of over 14 per game. Milwaukee has reached 20 or more offensive rebounds four times and, Feb. 9 against Youngstown, UWM held a 25-2 edge on second-chance points. The Panthers also tallied an amazing 27 offensive boards in the win over Upper Iowa Nov. 21. All of those offensive rebounds add up to plenty of second-chance points for Milwaukee, which has had more second-chance points than its opponent in 23 of 30 games this season.
UWM had the same starting lineup for the first 25 games of the season until an injury to Adrian Tigert moved Derrick Ford in the lineup for the final two games of the regular season ... with either Ford or Tigert in the lineup, UWM starts five seniors and all five starters are 23 years old ... UWM is 17-1 this season when leading at halftime and has won 40 of its last 41 games when holding the edge after 20 minutes ... the Panthers are 0-2 in overtime ... UWM has seven players that have appeared in all 30 games this season. Plus, Adrian Tigert likely would have played in all 30 had he not been injured. Two others have missed games because of injury or would likely have played in all 30.
The winner of Saturday's second round game advances to the Minneapolis regional semifinals next week.