Dec. 19, 2013
Need To Know
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team heads to New Orleans, La., and Tulane University for two games in the Westin Holiday Classic. The Panthers will play Northeastern Saturday afternoon before squaring off with Alabama State Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers enter the weekend at 9-3, equaling their starts in the 2005-06 and 2002-03 season, both of which ended in the NCAA Tournament. The best 12-game start in school history came in 1992-93, when Milwaukee opened 11-1. Milwaukee is also one win away from a new record for regular season non-league victories.
Milwaukee has not played since Dec. 11, when it saw its five-game winning streak snapped in a 78-52 loss to #4 Wisconsin.
Milwaukee has four players averaging in double figures and Matt Tiby tops the charts with 14.4 points. The Panthers have already had nine players collect at least one double-figure scoring outing.
Senior Kyle Kelm has put together a stellar first 12 games of his final season. He is averaging 17 points per game in his last two outings and is up to 13.2 points per game for the year.
The Panthers have overcome halftime deficits in four of their nine wins and have dug out of double-digit holes to claim a win three times.
UWM has truly made its mark on the road. The Panthers have four true road wins this season after collecting just one all of last season. And, six of the Panthers' eight victories this year have come outside of the city of Milwaukee. The four non-league road wins are the most since the 2004-05 campaign.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team heads to New Orleans and Tulane University for a pair of games in the Westin Holiday Classic. The Panthers will face Northeastern Saturday afternoon before taking on Alabama State Sunday afternoon.
A Quick Scout
Northeastern is 2-8 entering the weekend ... the Huskies have faced a strong schedule and do have a win over Georgetown ... Scott Eatherton averages a double-double ... the Huskies won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title last year ... Alabama State is 4-3 entering the weekend and plays Tulane Saturday before taking on the Panthers ... the Hornets beat Western Illinois Monday night ... opponents are shooting better than 47 percent against ASU ... Jamel Waters leads the team at nearly 16 ppg ... UWM has never faced either team ... this is Milwaukee's first trip to New Orleans since the 2002-03 season, when the Panthers faced SEMO, Indiana State and Maine at the University Hoops Classic and won a pair of games.
Busy Now A Break
This weekend's two games break up what is a long spell of down time for the Panthers, who are just coming out of final exams. Milwaukee hasn't played since losing at Wisconsin Dec. 11. Plus, after this weekend, UWM will again take some extended time off before opening league play Jan. 2 against Youngstown State. Once league play begins, the Panthers do have stretches of four games in nine days and four games in eight days, but also have a stretch of just three games in nearly three full weeks.
Not Home Much
The Panthers certainly aren't spending any extended time on their home court this season. Milwaukee will play just 12 of its 30 regular season games at home this year, with four of the 18 away games played on neutral courts. UWM's 12 home games are easily the least in the Horizon League. UIC will play 14 home games plus two additional games in Chicago. Every other league team will play 15 or 16 home contests. The good news is the Panthers have started to make their mark on the road this season. UWM already has four true road wins and six total victories outside of Milwaukee. Manhattan leads the nation with seven true road wins and Harvard also has a combined six road and neutral victories..
Notable Victory Numbers
Milwaukee is off to a 9-3 start and has hit a number of milestones in the process:
- The 9-3 start equals the start from the 2002-03 and 2005-06 seasons. The best-ever start in UWM's Division I history was in 1992-93, when the Panthers went 11-1 through 12 games and actually opened 16-1.
- UWM has tied a school record by winning nine regular season non-league games. Milwaukee also won nine regular season contests outside of the Horizon League in 2002-03, while the Panthers have won eight regular season non-league games five other times.
- The Panthers set a school record with seven wins in the month of November. The previous best was five, set in both 2009 and 2011.
- The Panthers have won four-straight true road games, besting three-game streaks from 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2010-11. Milwaukee last won five-straight road games in 2004-05.
- Prior to this season, Milwaukee had never won more than two true road games in the month of November.
- Milwaukee's four non-league road wins are one better than the team total from the 2005-06, 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons. UWM last won four non-league road games in 2004-05.
- The Panthers have won games in six different venues this season, including two different home venues. Plus, Milwaukee has beaten teams from seven different conferences.
- Milwaukee now has two wins over NCAA Tournament teams (Davidson and James Madison) and has overcome double-digit deficits in two of its four true road wins.
What A Difference A Year Makes
There's little question the Panthers are a different team in 2013-14 than they were in 2012-13. UWM has exceeded its win total from a year ago in just the first 12 games and has improved dramatically in nearly every key statistical category. A few examples of the stark improvement:
12-13 13-14 Diff
Points Scored 62.7 74.8 +12.1
FG Percentage 38.8 46.1 +7.3
FT Percentage 68.4 74.7 +6.3
Asst. Per Game 10.9 13.7 +2.8
TO Per Game 14.2 12.8 -1.4
Other Notable Differences
Milwaukee's quick turnaround from 2012-13 until now has also been highlighted by a number of tremendous individual improvements:
- Senior Kyle Kelm has upped his scoring average from 5.1 points per game a season ago to 13.2 points per contest this year. He is also shooting 61.5 percent from the floor this year after making only 41.0 percent of his shots in `12-'13.
- Sophomore Austin Arians is averaging 12.3 points per contest this year after averaging 6.6 points per game a season ago. He has also improved his game dramatically inside the arc. He made just 23 two-point shots all of last season but has already made 28 this year. Taken one step further, 74.7 percent of Arians' shots came from three-point range a year ago, while this season 59.8 percent of his shots have come from beyond the arc.
- Senior Jordan Aaron was forced to take more than 23 percent of Milwaukee shots a season ago, but this year is taking less than 19 percent of its shots.
- Milwaukee's two best newcomers - Steve McWhorter and Matt Tiby - have combined for 22.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. For comparison sake, UWM's five-person senior class a year ago averaged 29.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per contest over 32 games.
Last Time Out
Ben Brust had 18 points to lead four players in double figures as Wisconsin claimed a 78-52 win over UWM Dec. 11 at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin made 9-of-13 shots from three-point range in the first half to all but put the game out of reach. When Wisconsin did finally cool off midway through the second half, the Panthers crawled back to within 16 points and had a chance to get closer. But, the Badgers then answered with a 10-0 run to reclaim complete control.
Sophomore newcomer Matt Tiby has made a huge mark on the Panthers just 12 games into his college career. He struggled with foul trouble and turnovers in the loss to Wisconsin but his recent big performances included a 19-point outing in the win over UNI and 15 points before fouling out in the win over Bradley. He has led the Panthers in scoring four times this season and in rebounding six times. He debuted with 20-plus points in his first two games, becoming the first Panther since Ed McCants to score 20 or more points in each of his first two games in Milwaukee. He leads the team in both scoring and rebounding and stands second in assists.
Senior Jordan Aaron had an off-night against Wisconsin in the last outing but seems to have found his scoring touch overall. His breakthrough offensive performance this season came Nov. 30, when he poured in 33 points at UMKC. He followed that up with 19 points in a win over Northern Iowa and 13 points - including eight in the final four minutes - in Saturday's win over Bradley. His performance at Kansas City included 20 points in the first half alone and wound up just one shy of his collegiate-best, a 34-point outing against Ohio Dominican last year. He also made seven 3-pointers, equaling the total he made twice a season ago. Aaron, a preseason all-league honoree, is now up to third on the team in scoring and has hit double-digits in seven of 12 contests.
Kyle Kelm has gotten his senior season off to a great start. Kelm has been in double digits in 10 of his 12 outings this year and has now earned his way into the starting lineup. His early-season has been highlighted by 17-point outings against Wisconsin and Bradley, plus 16 points against DePaul and three 14-point outings. He has now played in 102 career games and made 38 starts, scoring 626 career points while adding 361 rebounds.
Milwaukee has already used four different starting lineups just 12 games into the season, but each and every combination seems to be working just fine. Thierno Niang was in the starting five at the start of the season but wound up sidelined with concussion-like symptoms and was replaced by Austin Arians. Now, Kyle Kelm has used his great run of early-season play to claim a starting spot from J.J. Panoske. Then against Bradley, Niang replaced Aaron in the starting five. UWM has claimed at least one win with all four starting combinations, and the Panthers seem to be settling into an eight-to-nine-person rotation barring foul troubles.
Oh So Many Options
One thing has become clear over the first 12 games of the season - Milwaukee has plenty of options on offense. The Panthers have already had nine different players collect at least one double-figure scoring outing, with four players entering play this weekend averaging at least 12 points per game. Milwaukee has had five players reach double figures in a game twice and four players do so in five other contests.
The Panthers have done a strong job during the early season of establishing an inside edge and using it to get to the foul line on a regular basis. In fact, Milwaukee has made 221 free throws while its opponents have attempted just 238. Even better, the Panthers are shooting very well from the line, converting on 74.7 percent of their attempts. While there is a long way to go in the season, the school record for free throw percentage is 74.5 percent, set in the 1993-94 campaign. Milwaukee is also on pace to break the single-season record for made free throws (542).
The 2013-14 UWM men's basketball team is looking to a number of new faces along with some key returnees as it charts its course for bouncing back from the 2012-13 campaign. The Panthers return seven players that made at least one start a season ago, though that group of seven combined for just 68 starts over the course of the year. Those seven, plus one additional returnee, are joined by a group of 11 new players. Eight of the 11 are eligible this season, and new faces account for eight of the team's 13 scholarship players. Milwaukee was picked last in the Horizon League.
Other News And Notes
UWM collected three wins in three days to claim the NIU Invite Nov. 15-17 ... the tourney title was the first for Milwaukee since 2002-03, when it claimed a title at Missouri State ... Jordan Aaron and Matt Tiby each claimed spots on the all-tournament team ... Steve McWhorter earned Horizon League Co-Player of the Week honors Nov. 18 ... Austin Arians (Nov. 18) and Jordan Aaron (Dec. 9) have each earned College Sports Madness Player of the Week honors.