Dec. 9, 2008
Game #10 - Milwaukee (5-4, 2-0 Horizon) @ Miami University (4-3)
Thurs. Dec. 11 6 pm
Millett Hall Oxford, Ohio
Printable Game Notes
The Short List
UWM heads back to the road for a non-league contest at Miami University Thursday night.
The Panthers are coming off of a very successful weekend of Horizon League play, with UWM claiming wins over Detroit and Wright State.
Milwaukee is off to a 2-0 start in league play for the first time since 2005-06.
UWM continues to show marked improvement on offense. The Panthers are averaging 70.7 points per game and making more than seven 3-pointers per game.
Reserve James Eayrs averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two wins this past weekend.
Miami has met a challenging non-league schedule head-on, building a 4-3 record with its losses coming to nationally-ranked Pittsburgh, UCLA and Xavier.
On The Air
Thursday's game will air live throughout eastern Wisconsin on Time Warner Cable Sports 32. Daron Sutton and Jason Clark have the call. The game is also available nationally on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360. Radio coverage of the game is also available on WISN (AM 1130). Bill Johnson's pregame show begins at 5:45 p.m.
Tickets for Thursday's game are available through the Miami Ticket Office at the doors of Millett Hall on gameday. Tickets for all UWM home games are available through Milwaukee-area Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com and by phone at 414-276-4545. Tickets are also available at the U.S. Cellular Arena box office on the day of the game.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team heads back outside of league play for a Thursday night contest at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Some Matchup History
UWM and Miami have met just one previous time, and that came at the way back in 1947. Miami won that game, 63-56. This is the first game of a home-and-home series between the Panthers and Red Hawks, with Miami returning to the U.S. Cellular Arena next season.
Milwaukee And The MAC
Miami is the second of two Mid-American Conference foes on Milwaukee's schedule this season, pending the matchup for the Panthers in this season's ESPNU BracketBusters contest. The Panthers fell to Ball State late last month. Despite the geographical proximity between Milwaukee and many schools in the Mid-American Conference, Thursday's game is just the fifth meeting between UWM and a MAC school since the start of the 2002-03 season. The Panthers did beat a pair of MAC schools last season, claiming a win over Central Michigan in addition to a win at Ball State.
Back To The Alma Mater
Thursday's game is a homecoming for retiring UWM Director of Athletics Bud Haidet. Haidet graduated from Miami University and worked at the school for 25 years before making the move to Milwaukee. Haidet is also a member of the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame.
Last Time Out
James Eayrs scored 14 points to lead three players in double figures as UWM captured a 66-59 win over Wright State Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The Panthers also got 11 points from Tone Boyle and 10 from Tony Meier in winning their first two league games for the first time since the 2005-06 season. UWM led by as many as 16 points in the first half and by 15 early in the second half before seeing the entire advantage slip away. But, after Wright State claimed a 54-53 lead with 4:12 remaining, Milwaukee finished the game on a 13-5 run to wrap up the win.
Winning Sooner And More Often
UWM is off to just the start it was hoping for in Horizon League play, with this weekend's two-game sweep pushing the Panthers to 2-0 in the league for the first time since the 2005-06 season. UWM's best-ever league start came in 2003-04, when Milwaukee won its first 10 league contests. Overall, UWM collected its fifth win on Dec. 6. Last season it took until Dec. 29 for the Panthers to get a fifth victory, while in 2006-07 the fifth win didn't come until Jan. 11.
Big Games From Big James
The star of the two weekend league wins came from the bench, as junior James Eayrs made big shots when they counted in directing a pair of second-half surges. Thursday against Detroit, Eayrs scored all nine of his points in the second half. In fact, seven of the nine came in the final 2:52 of the game. Then Saturday against Wright State, Eayrs scored 14 points, making 4-of-4 from three-point range. One of his threes came with just 1:08 left and gave UWM a six-point lead and control of the game.
UWM continues to show off its improved shooting abilities from long range. In fact, the Panthers made 16-of-33 (48.5 percent) from three-point range in this past weekend's two games. As a team, the Panthers are second in the league in three-point field goals made (7.2) and third in three-point field goal percentage (36.7). Individually, Tony Meier is third (50%) and James Eayrs fifth (43.5%) in three-point field goal shooting while Tone Boyle is third (2.0) and Tony Meier (1.9) fourth in three-point field goals made per game. Last season, UWM shot just 30.7 from three-point range, while the Panthers shot just 32.6 percent from beyond the arc two seasons ago.
Avery Smith may not have had his best shooting touch in place during each of this past weekend's two wins, but he found a large number of other ways to contribute. Thursday against Detroit, Smith dished out seven assists to go with five points, five rebounds and two steals. Then Saturday, his statline included nine points, eight rebounds and four assists. He has done his fair-share of scoring, recording back-to-back 22-point outings against Upper Iowa Nov. 19 and Marquette Nov. 22. Smith hadn't played in a regular season game in 20 months when he took the floor Nov. 16 against Iowa State. He was dismissed from the squad last November and then slowly worked his way back onto the team. He did appear in a closed-door scrimmage with IUPUI last season, meaning he had to appeal to the NCAA to restore his eligibility for this - technically a fifth - season. The NCAA did oblige, instituting a two-game penalty for Smith, which he served during the first two regular season games. Smith was the Panthers' leading scorer in 2006-07, averaging 15.5 points per game. He then was a preseason all-league selection last year before being dismissed.
Shooting Arrow Pointing Up
UWM is starting to build a little consistency when it comes to shooting from the field. While the Panthers' numbers are far from spectacular overall, UWM still stands second in the league in field goal shooting, making shots at a 42.7 percent clip. The Panthers shot a stellar 60 percent from the field in the Nov. 19 win over Upper Iowa, making 30-of-50 from the field. The shooting mark is the fourth-best in Milwaukee's Division I history. It was also the best since the Panthers shot 60.6 percent from the floor against Prairie View A&M in the 2004-05 season opener. Milwaukee also shot 51.8 percent against Cal Davis Nov. 15, which was the best performance by the Panthers since they shot 56.8 percent in a victory over Youngstown State in February of 2006.
Defense Holds The Key
An improved offense by the Panthers has been nice, but thus far the key to victory for UWM has come on the defensive end. In Milwaukee's five victories, opponents have shot just 38 percent from the field and averaged just 61.2 points per game. But, in UWM's four losses, opponents are shooting 49 percent from the field and averaging 82 points per game.
A Charity Case
Another positive development on offense for the Panthers during the early season has come at the foul line. Not only is UWM getting there on a regular basis, but the Panthers are taking advantage of their opportunities. Milwaukee is averaging more than 22 free-throw attempts per game while converting 73.1 percent of its opportunities. The 37 attempts Thursday against Detroit were a season-high and the most since UWM attempted 41 against Cleveland State Jan. 26 of last season.
Despite a battle with the flu during the early season, the Panthers are getting plenty out of true freshman starter Tony Meier. Meier reached double figures for the fourth time on offense this season when he scored 10 points Saturday. This came on the heels of what was almost his second double-double of the season Thursday night against Detroit, when he had nine points and 10 rebounds to go with four blocks. He made quite the debut Nov. 14 in the win over Loyola Marymount, collecting 14 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. He became the first true freshman to record a double-double in his first appearance as a Panther in UWM's Division I history. Adrian Tigert had a double-double in his fifth game as a true freshman in 2001-02.
Setting The Tone
Junior college transfer Tone Boyle was expected to have an immediate impact on the Panthers this season and he certainly has so far. He led the way with 21 points in the win over Detroit last Thursday and then fought through a cold shooting night from the field to score 11 points in Saturday's win over Wright State. Boyle already has three 20-plus-point outings this year and is averaging a team-leading 14.3 points per game. He has also made a team-high 18 three-point field goals.
A Hill To Climb
Sophomore Anthony Hill is already showing marked improvement from a season ago and is carrying the load as UWM's primary post threat. He hit for 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in 26 minutes of action against Detroit last Thursday. It was his fourth double-figure outing in nine games this season. Typically, the best way for opponents to slow Hill has been to get him in foul trouble, as in his five non-double-figure outings, he is averaging just under 16 minutes per game.
Don't Overlook Deonte
With UWM's newfound success from three-point range and the return of Avery Smith, it can be easy to forget about Deonte Roberts, who was on the league's all-newcomer team a season ago. But, Roberts is shooting a team-best 54.5 percent from the field for the season and even knocked down his first three-pointer of the season Saturday in the win over Wright State. He is one of seven UWM players averaging 6.7 points per game or better and he stands second on the team with 20 assists.
The Bench Is Bringing It
UWM's bench continues to make its mark. The Panthers have already had a pair of bench players reach double figures in the same game twice this season. Avery Smith and James Eayrs did it against Upper Iowa while Eayrs and Deion James did it in the season-opening win over Loyola Marymount. Some of the best outings by the bench this season include a 45-point effort against Upper Iowa and a 38-point outing against Marquette.
Plenty Of Contributions
The Panthers have now had eight different players record a double-figure point outing already this season, while Tone Boyle (3) and Avery Smith (2) have combined for five 20-point efforts. Boyle has reached double-figures six times in his first nine games while freshman Tony Meier has been in double digits four times. Smith, Ricky Franklin, Anthony Hill and James Eayrs have done it three times overall while Deion James has done it twice this season. Five players are averaging better than eight points per game with two more at just under seven points per contest.
One of the most memorable games in recent Panther history came Nov. 15, as UWM rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit to beat Cal Davis, 81-75. The Panthers actually outscored the Aggies, 54-24, in the second 20 minutes, after trailing 51-27 at the break. The comeback is the largest in UWM's Division I history, besting the comeback from a 21-point second-half deficit against Virginia Tech in December of 2001. Last season, the Panthers actually made a pretty good habit of recording comeback victories. In fact, UWM rallied from double-digits down to win four times last year, including overcoming a 17-point deficit at Ball State and a 14-point deficit in the final 6:30 to beat Detroit.
Guards Tone Boyle and Ricky Franklin each put together strong performances at the World Vision Classic to open the season, with both players earning spots on the all-tournament team. Boyle scored 20 points in his debut and wound up averaging 16.3 points per game in the three contests. Meanwhile, Franklin averaged 12.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds over the three games.
The Panthers are taking the floor in the 2008-09 season with two starters and a total of seven letterwinners returning from last season. The returning starters are Ricky Franklin and Deonte Roberts, while the other returnees include Anthony Hill, Kaylan Anderson, Deion James, Charlie Swiggett and Jason Averkamp. Both returning starters have honors under their belts from a season ago, as Franklin was a third-team all-state selection by Inside Wisconsin Sports while Roberts earned a spot on the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team.
The Panthers have three junior college players on the 2008-09 roster that all look like they can make an impact on UWM's success. Guard Tone Boyle earned all-region honors at Highland CC last season and is one of UWM's leading scorers so far this season. James Eayrs should be a big contributor after scoring over 1,100 points in two seasons at the North Dakota State College of Science. Finally, Burleigh Porte can provide defensive and rebounding support after spending this past season at Olney CC in Illinois.
Three scholarship true freshmen are also on the roster for the 2008-09 campaign, though a pair are slated for redshirt seasons this year. Tony Meier of suburban St. Louis is becoming a regular in the starting lineup so far this year. Ryan Haggerty played well during preseason practice but is now scheduled to redshirt this season, leaving four years of eligibility. Meanwhile, Riley Walker will also redshirt this season after working through shoulder and knee injuries during the early season.
Laying In The Weeds
UWM is hoping to surprise the field in the Horizon League during the 2008-09 season. The Panthers were picked to finish sixth in the league, according to a poll of coaches, sports information directors and media members. Cleveland State, last season's regular season and tournament runner-up, was picked to win the league crown. Wright State was picked second with UIC third and Green Bay fourth. A number of other publications have also published their preseason picks for the Horizon League. UWM was actually picked eighth in three different publications, with The Sporting News, Lindy's and Athlon Sports all selecting the Panthers in that position.
On The Air
UWM has again put together an extensive television and radio package for the 2008-09 men's basketball season. On the television side, Panther games will air on Time Warner Cable Sports 32 for the second-straight season. At least 10 games will be a part of the package, with most of those broadcasts also available nationally on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360. UWM also has an ESPNU appearance slated for Jan. 9 when the Panthers host Green Bay. On the radio side, UWM games are back on WISN (AM 1130) for a second-straight season. UWM contests on WISN start with a 15-minute pregame show, while home games also include a live postgame show from Major Goolsby's in downtown Milwaukee. WISN also airs "Rob Jeter on Basketball" Mondays from 6-7 p.m.
Odds And Ends
The Panthers went 5-8 on the road last season and are 0-3 in true road contests so far this season ... UWM did go 2-15 on the road in 2006-07 but averaged nearly nine wins per season in the four years prior to that ... UWM is playing 10 games against postseason qualifiers ... the combined record of the four opponents who have beaten UWM this season is 23-7 ... The Panthers are now 55-21 in regular season and postseason contests at The Cell since their return in 2002-03 ... if you combine games at both the Klotsche Center and the U.S. Cellular Arena, UWM is 59-14 in regular season Horizon League home contests over the last nine-plus seasons.
After more than a week off for final exams, UWM hosts Bradley Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. The game is a return contest from last year's ESPNU BracketBusters contest.