Panthers Return From Holiday Break At Wyoming
Dec. 28, 2007
#12: Milwaukee (4-7) @ Wyoming (5-5)
The Panthers entered the holiday on a happy note, snapping a six-game losing streak with a 74-71 win over Central Michigan. Paige Paulsen scored 22 points to lead three players in double figures while Marcus Skinner contributed a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in his first start of the season. UWM also converted on 29-of-42 free-throw chances.
Wyoming has split its first 10 games, never winning or losing more than one game in a row. The Cowboys last played at UTEP Dec. 22, falling 79-73 in the championship contest of the Sun Bowl Tournament.
Today's game is the final contest in a three-game series between the two schools, with UWM having won the first two.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team returns from its holiday break by taking on Wyoming Saturday afternoon in Laramie.
Scouting The Cowboys
Wyoming has split its first 10 games of the season, never winning or losing more than one in a row. The Cowboys split two games before the holiday at the Sun Bowl Invitational, beating Buffalo in the semifinals before falling to UTEP in the title game. Brandon Ewing leads the Cowboys at 16.9 points per game and is one of three players in double figures. His backcourt mate, Brad Jones, contributes 14.2 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per contest.
UWM and Wyoming will be meeting for just the third time in history. The two schools have met each of the last two seasons, with the Panthers claiming wins in both contests. In 2005-06, UWM traveled to Laramie and overcame a halftime deficit to claim an 84-69 victory. Then last season, the Panthers pulled out a 75-73 win in Milwaukee.
Climbing The Mountain (West)
UWM does have some recent experience against the Mountain West Conference, having split two games with Air Force during a home-and-home series in 2003-04 and 2004-05 before starting its series with Wyoming. The Panthers have also played Utah six times, dropping all six contests. In all, Milwaukee is 4-11 against current members of the Mountain West Conference, though the Panthers have only played against four of the nine schools in the league.
Taking To The Road
Saturday's game at Wyoming marks UWM's fifth road contest of the season, with the Panthers off to a 1-3 start away from home. UWM is looking to reestablish a winning trend away from home, with its Nov. 14 win at Ball State having snapped a nine-game road losing streak in non-league games. The Panthers went just 2-15 on the road last season but Milwaukee's general trend in recent seasons is for reasonable success on the road. Despite last year's numbers and the 1-3 start to their road slate this year, the Panthers are still 37-38 on the road in the last five-plus seasons.
Updating The Roster
With the loss of Torre Johnson (dismissed from team Dec. 18) and Roman Gentry (left team Dec. 18) along with the dismissal earlier this season of Avery Smith (Nov. 7), UWM's roster has been trimmed from the full compliment of 13 scholarship players to just 10 scholarship players. Walk-ons Deion James, Jason Averkamp and Brad Carroll are also on the active roster, with Carroll currently redshirting this season. He is scheduled to receive a scholarship starting next season. Walk-ons Joe Allen and Zach Holt are also still on the roster, but both suffered season-ending injuries during the preseason.
Another Schedule Update
The latest change to UWM's men's basketball schedule involves its contest at Youngstown State set for Jan. 7. The game will now tipoff at 5:35 p.m. EST/4:35 p.m. CST instead of the previously announced 7 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CST tip time. The change was made by Youngstown State officials because of high local interest in that night's national championship football game. Two other schedule changes for later this season have previously been announced. The home game against Butler has been moved to Tuesday, Feb. 12, to accommodate a national-television broadcast by ESPNU. The contest will start at 6 p.m. CST. Meanwhile, the Feb. 2 game at Wright State has been set for a 6 p.m. CST tipoff.
UWM is 35-28 in December over the last seven-plus seasons ... the Panthers have split two overtime contests this season ... UWM has led at halftime in just two of its 11 games this season. When the Panthers led at halftime in their win over Central Michigan, it marked the first time they had the lead at halftime since the season opener ... UWM has also faced a halftime deficit of 10 or more points six times ... the combined record of the five non-league teams that have wins over UWM is 45-6 entering play this week ... of those opponents, Marquette is ranked while Wisconsin, Drake and Sam Houston State are all receiving votes ... two opponents have made 13 threes in a game, the most by a UWM opponent since Butler made 15 late in the 2003-04 season ... the Panthers collected 20 steals in the win over Upper Iowa Nov. 9, a number that is tied for the third-most in a game in the school's Division I history and the most in a single game since the 2000-01 campaign ... the crowd of 18,283 at the Bradley Center Nov. 30 to watch UWM and Marquette marked the largest crowd to see the Panthers play since 21,250 were in the RCA Dome for Milwaukee's NCAA Tournament matchup with Notre Dame in 2003 ... it was also the largest regular-season crowd to see the Panthers since 18,947 witnessed UWM and Louisville play in 2001.
Last Time Out
Paige Paulsen scored 22 points to lead three players in double figures as UWM pulled out a hard-fought 74-71 win over Central Michigan Dec. 19 at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Deion James added 12 points while Marcus Skinner contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers. Giordan Watson led Central Michigan - which had just beaten Michigan - with 25 points, but the Chippewas had 23 turnovers and shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the second half.
Plenty Of Paige
Senior Paige Paulsen picked a great night to rediscover his offensive game. The forward led UWM with 22 points in the win over Central Michigan Dec. 19, the third time this season he has tallied 20-or-more points. But, it was the first time since Nov. 27 he got to the 20-point mark. In fact, in Paulsen's last four outings prior to the Central Michigan game, the senior had averaged just seven points per game, with 17 of his 28 points in that span coming in just one contest (at Loyola Dec. 8). He had also made just four of his last 16 attempts from three-point range before knocking in 4-of-7 from long range in the win.
Senior Marcus Skinner has provided one of the best success stories for the Panthers thus far in the 2007-08 season. After seeing only limited action in the early season, the Flint, Mich., native has emerged as a key contributor of late. Dec. 19 against Central Michigan, Skinner earned his first start of the season and proceeded to collect a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was his second double-double of the season, with Skinner having tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds two games earlier at Loyola. In his last three outings, Skinner is averaged 8.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest.
Bounce From The Bench
UWM head coach Rob Jeter continues to look to a variety of players on his bench to make contributions. In fact, the Panthers had played at least 10 players in the first 10 games this season before seeing the rotation trimmed to nine players in the win over Central Michigan. Milwaukee has already had five players record double-figure outings off the bench, with Deion James turning the trick twice. His second such effort came Dec. 19 against Central Michigan, when he collected a UWM-high 12 points.
With Torre Johnson no longer on the Panthers' roster, UWM fielded its fifth different starting lineup of the young season in the win over Central Michigan. Already, seven different players - including two true freshmen (Deonte Roberts and Tim Flowers) - have earned starts. Last season, the Panthers used seven different starting lineups with eight different players earning starts.
The Winning Numbers
A few statistical categories jump out when you compare the numbers in UWM's four wins against the numbers in its seven losses. For one, the Panthers have attempted 124 free throws in seven losses (17.7/game) and 124 free throws in four wins (31/game). Also, UWM is allowing opponents to shoot 51 percent from the field in its seven losses while limiting opponents to a 42.3 percent clip in its four victories. The opponent shooting percentage in losses includes 43.3 percent (55-of-127) from three-point range. Finally, the Panthers are averaging 80.5 points per game in four victories while scoring just 63.9 points per game in seven losses.
Snapping A Slide
The Dec. 19 win over Central Michigan allowed the Panthers to snap a six-game losing streak. That kind of streak hasn't happened very often in recent seasons for UWM. In fact, prior to enduring streaks of four, five and seven-straight losses last season, the Panthers hadn't lost more than three-straight games since the 1998-99 season.
The Dec. 12 game between UWM and Wisconsin drew a regular-season record crowd to the U.S. Cellular Arena. The crowd of 10,017 marked the fifth time in school history a crowd of 10,000 or better attended a UWM game at The Cell, with the other four coming in Horizon League Tournament play. The crowd did easily surpass the old regular-season record of 8,703, set Jan. 31, 2004, in a UWM win over Green Bay.
A Frosh In The Starting Five
With Tim Flowers and Deonte Roberts together in the starting lineup three times this season, the Panthers truly found themselves fielding an opening five with an accent on youth. In fact, it was the first time since the 1999-2000 season the Panthers had at least two true freshmen in the starting five. That season, they actually started two redshirt freshmen (Clay Tucker and Ronnie Jones) and a true freshman (Kalombo Kadima) much of the season. But, when Tucker was hurt in mid-February, true freshman Jason Frederick earned starts alongside Kadima, giving the Panthers two true first-year players in the starting five. While playing young players clearly can have its ups and downs, UWM's youngsters have shown flashes of brilliance. Three of the top four scorers in UWM's season opening win over Upper Iowa were freshmen, with Flowers leading the way. His 18 points marked the best offensive performance by a true freshmen in the season opener in the school's Division I history. The only ones that even come close were a 14-point, eight-rebound night by Roderick Johnson in the 1995-96 opener and a 12-point, seven-rebound night from Jared Hardwick in the 1997-98 opener.
UWM has already overcome double-digit deficits to win twice this season, including Nov. 20 against South Dakota State. The Nov. 14 comeback from 17 points down in the second half against Ball State is the best comeback by a Panther team since 2001, when UWM recovered from a 21-point deficit to beat Virginia Tech in overtime. Plus, UWM has actually recovered from double-digit deficits to take the lead in two other games this season, including Dec. 8 at Loyola when the Panthers turned an 11-point deficit into a four-point lead before falling in overtime.
Panthers On The Tube
UWM and Time Warner Cable have put together a multi-year agreement that makes Time Warner Sports (Channel 32) the official television broadcast partner for Panther athletics. The three-year contract is highlighted by expanded live coverage of men's basketball. The men will appear live on Time Warner Sports more than 10 times during 2007-08, with Horizon League road contests the biggest feature of the package. The partnership will also include additional tape-delayed broadcasts, with replays of UWM men's basketball home game. Plus, Time Warner Sports is also the home for "The Rob Jeter Show."
Panthers On The Radio
UWM men's basketball games are now heard on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. UWM Athletics and Clear Channel actually signed a five-year agreement prior to the start of the 2006-07 season, with games airing on WOKY for the fourth-straight season. But, the agreement set in motion a plan to move the games to WISN in time for the 2007-08 campaign. WISN is also the home for the weekly "Rob Jeter on Basketball" show as well as other special Panther features. The continuing agreement also provides for an extensive promotional profile for UWM Athletics, including recorded promotional announcements on WISN, WOKY and Clear Channel's group of FM radio stations. Plus, a new Milwaukee basketball postgame show will air live from Major Goolsby's after every Panther home game.
UWM returns home for a pair of league games to start the new year. The Panthers host Wright State Jan. 3 and Detroit Jan. 5. Both games start at 7 p.m.