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MBB-FCS: Robert Morris Colonials (8-11) at Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (12-6)

The Milwaukee men’s basketball team enters play this week as one of four teams sitting at the top of the Horizon League standings with a 6-2 mark and will look to keep things going in the right direction when it hosts Robert Morris Thursday. The matchup against the Colonials is set to tip off at 7 p.m. on ESPN+ and will have live statistics available. It will also feature the “Educators Credit Union Milwaukee Panther Men’s Basketball Radio Broadcast”, which airs on 101.7 FM The Truth and streaming services. Scott Warras is on the call for his seventh season as the voice of the Panthers and all links are posted on the MKE website.

LOOKING AT THE COLONIALS
Robert Morris went 8-24 overall a season ago, finishing 5-16 in Horizon League play. Led by 13th-year head coach Andrew Toole, the Colonials return four starters and five letterwinners in 2022-23, including forwards Matt Mayers and Kahliel Spear and guards Enoch Cheeks and Michael Green III as starters. The Colonials entered the 2022-23 season returning 57.6 percent of their scoring from last season, 61.9 percent of their rebounding and 62 percent of their assists. RMU earned a rank of No. 8 in the league preseason poll and Spear was named to the 2022-23 Preseason All-Horizon League Second Team after pacing the team in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg) a year ago.

The team will enter play Thursday at 8-11 overall while starting conference action at 3-5. Most recent action included back-to-back losses to Oakland (69-65 Jan. 12) and Detroit Mercy (87-75 Jan. 14). Three players average double-figures, led by Cheeks at 17.8 ppg while connecting on 49.6 percent of his shots from the floor overall. Spear adds 14.4 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per night.

SERIES HISTORY
Milwaukee leads the all-time series by a count of 3-2, which includes a 2-0 mark in the pre-DI era (dating back to 1977). RMU claimed a 67-64 victory in the first rematch as league opponents two years ago and the two programs split the series last year, each winning on its home court. Patrick Baldwin Jr. led MKE to a 77-69 victory Dec. 4 with 26 points, which included an impressive 6-for-6 effort from three-point range.

LAST TIME OUT
BJ Freeman scored 20 points and Markeith Browning II added a career-high 19 points to help pace an impressive comeback effort, but Wright State outlasted Milwaukee by a final score of 78-74 in overtime Jan. 14 at UWM Panther Arena.

The Panthers (12-6, 6-2 Horizon League) erased a 16-point deficit over the final 10 minutes of the second half to force overtime, only to see the Raiders (11-8, 4-4 Horizon League) escape with the win, handing MKE just its second loss at home this season while snapping what was a four-game winning streak.

Freeman just missed a double-double, adding a team-high nine rebounds to his team-high 20 points. Browning II played a key role in the comeback effort, adding seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals to his career-best 19 points.

Moses Bol was huge off the bench, scoring seven points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking a pair of shots in a season-high 21 minutes of playing time. Elijah Jamison also chipped in 10 points.

OFF AND RUNNING!
Opening the Horizon League schedule with five of the first six games on the road was a daunting task for any team. The Panthers responded in impressive fashion, posting a 5-1 start through that stretch (and now sit 6-2 after the WSU loss) to mark its best opening to a league slate since the 2011-12 campaign. That season, MKE started 6-1 before a second league loss. In that stretch, the Panthers have topped a Detroit Mercy team they hadn’t beaten since February of 2018, a Cleveland State squad they had only defeated once since 2019, a Purdue Fort Wayne program they had never knocked off prior to this season (0-5 all-time), and then defeated a Norse squad that had won 10 of the past 11 in the all-time series.

Milwaukee currently sits 6-2 and in first place in the Horizon League standings. Following the first six games of the league slate, the Panthers began receiving votes in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll and have now garnered 21 votes in both the Jan. 16 and Jan. 9 poll. Lastly, the team’s 8-2 ledger at home is the best start to a season on the home court since opening 2011-12 with a 10-1 mark in home games.

GET THAT SHOT OUTTA HERE!
With Ahmad Rand leading the way, the MKE defense has been very impressive with its shot-blocking ability. Rand leads the Horizon League – and stands 15th in the nation – with 2.3 bpg (42 total blocks) and blocked four-plus shots in back-to-back-back outings against Green Bay (4), SEMO (4), and IUPUI (5). In addition, Moses Bol is eighth in the conference at 0.9 bpg, while Jalen Johnson is 15th with 0.6 per night. The team total of 102 is over 50 percent higher than the second-best in the conference (Robert Morris has 67) and is on pace to easily set a new school record, which is currently the 125 rejections by the 2017-18 squad. The Panthers head into play Thursday ranked 12th in the nation in blocks per game at 5.7.

Rand also continues to make his way up the single-season block list at Milwaukee.

  1. J.J. Panoske: 54 in 2015-16
  2. Bryce Nze: 48 in 2017-18
  3. Brett Prahl: 46 in 2017-18
  4. Joey St. Pierre: 44 in 2021-22
  5. Rand 42
  6. J.J. Panoske: 41 in 2012-13

Team blocks record for a season:
2017-18: 125
2021-22: 119
2003-04: 118
2004-05: 114
2002-03: 114

BENCH BRIGADE POURS IT ON
The Panther bench continues to shine game after game. BJ Freeman has come off the bench each of the past six games, averaging 22.0 points per game over his last five outings. In that span, Freeman has connected on 50.0 percent (38-of-76) of his total field goals, as well as 43.9 percent (18-of-41) of his 3’s. His 28 points against Northern Kentucky Jan. 12 is the highest single-game point total of any reserve since Tafari Simms poured in 32 off the bench against IUPUI in January of 2021 and the most of any player since DeAndre Gholston scored 31 against Wright State back on March 2, 2021. This season, the team currently checks in at No. 2 in the NCAA in bench points, averaging 36.1 ppg (Florida Atlantic leads at 37.4 ppg). Kentrell Pullian scored a team-high 20 points off the bench in the win over UC Davis Nov. 26. It marked the first 20-plus point outing off the bench for a Panther since Josh Thomas scored 22 against Oakland Jan. 20 of last season and was part of a huge effort in the scoring column by the MKE bench. Pullian’s 20 points was over 1/3 of the 59 total bench points, as Elijah Jamison (13) and Markeith Browning II (12) were also in double-figures. It’s been a common theme for the deep MKE lineup this season, also seeing 56 points off the bench against Cardinal Stritch and 43 against MSOE. In fact, the 59 marks the most since the Panthers had 60 by the non-starters in a 125-74 victory over Judson back on December 13, 2015.

LEAGUE AND NATIONAL PROPS
BJ Freeman and Bart Lundy were each honored Jan. 9 for their work from over the prior weekend. Freeman was named the Nike Horizon League Player of the Week, while Lundy was selected as the HoopDirt.com NCAA Division I Coach of the Week.

Freeman helped lead Milwaukee to a perfect 2-0 week with a pair of impressive road performances. It started Thursday night at Cleveland State, scoring a season-high 24 points, including a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. He added six rebounds and made five 3-pointers. He followed that up with 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds in the win over Purdue Fort Wayne, highlighted by a triple with two minutes left that secured the win. For the week, he averaged 19.5 points per game and shot 45.2 percent (14-31) from the floor, including 47.1 percent (8-17) from distance, as the Panthers knocked off the two teams that shared the regular-season title a year ago.

The league honor is a career-first for Freeman, as well as the first of the season for the Panthers. In fact, it marks the first player of the week accolade for the team since Te’Jon Lucas was named Player of the Week in January of 2020 (Patrick Baldwin Jr. did earn Freshman of the Week twice a year ago). For Lundy, the distinction was across all schools at the DI level, as HoopDirt.com selects a weekly coach of the week for NCAA DI/II/III, as well as NAIA and JUCO.

FREE AND KP GOING 20+
With BJ Freeman posting a team-best 23 points and Kentrell Pullian not far behind with 20 points of his own at Detroit Mercy Dec. 31, it marked the first time in 45 games that the Panthers were able to see a pair of teammates record 20 or more points in the same game. The last time it occurred was Nov. 13, 2021, a contest that saw Josh Thomas net 23 points and DeAndre Gholston 22 against Eastern Kentucky.

THE ROAD TO 1,000
Jalen Johnson joined the Panthers with quite an extensive career at the NCAA Division I level under his belt at Alabama A&M in which he was named a BoxToRow All-American in each of his final two seasons. He averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last winter and started the current season with 893 career points. He crossed the 1000-point milestone against Detroit Mercy Dec. 31, becoming the 29th player in program history to do so wearing a Panther uniform, while also joining Te’Jon Lucas (2/19/20) and Jake Wright (final game of 2018-19 campaign) as the third consecutive to have reached the mark while not spending most of his career at Milwaukee. The most recent to hit the mark in MKE-only games was Matt Tiby in 2016, finishing with 1,332 points (in three seasons).

SCORING UP AND DOWN THE LINEUP
The Panthers have seen great balance in the scoring all season long and had five players in double-figures against Green Bay Dec. 1. That was the sixth different time this season that MKE has seen at least four players crack the double-digit column and the team is now 6-1 in such games after four reached double-digits in the win over North Park. Against the Phoenix, it was Keon Edwards reaching the level for the first time this season, finishing with a career-best 10 points in just 10:30 of playing time, connecting on a pair of 3’s along the way. The team has seen 11 different players score in double-figures already this season (Zach Howell was the most recent against Chattanooga Dec. 6), as well as six different players lead the way in scoring. The impressive roster depth has led to great competition when it comes to the starting lineup. In fact, the Panthers are among the teams with the most different number of starting lineups across the nation this season, having used 10 different lineups through 18 games.
*Coppin State: 13 lineups in 19 games
*James Madison: 12 in 18 games
*Eastern Michigan: 11 in 17 games
*Wyoming: 11 in 15 games
*Milwaukee: 10 in 18 games
*Tennessee Tech: 10 in 15 games
*TCU: 10 in 13 games

BROWNING BREAKOUT
Markeith Browning II has been enjoying a breakout season for the Panthers. A year ago, Browning saw action in 14 games, scoring in double-figures on three occasions. This year he has already scored in double-figures on nine occasions (nine of his past 13 games), tying his NCAA career-best of 12 points four times in a stretch of five games before finishing with 17 against Chattanooga Dec. 6, just missing a double-double that night with nine rebounds. He added 14 against Purdue Fort Wayne Jan. 7. He upped the ante against Wright State Jan. 14, finishing with a career-best 19 points.

LEAGUE LIFTOFF
Milwaukee broke a recent skid in Horizon League openers two years ago, topping Green Bay (68-65) after having dropped the initial game of the conference slate each of the prior six, dating back to an 82-76 victory over Youngstown State in 2013-14. Since joining the MCC/Horizon League, Milwaukee is now 15-14 in league openers following the impressive victory over GB this season.

HOW-WELL? … VERY
Zach Howell put on a show against Chattanooga Dec. 6 with a brilliant performance off the bench. He finished with an impressive 12 points in just 15 minutes – all coming on a 4-of-5 effort from deep … some from very deep to show off his range in setting a new season-high in points. He also put in a solid 14 minutes of work on the court against Iowa State Nov. 20, connecting on a couple of late 3’s to help get the Panthers back within striking distance. The eight points marked a season-best at the time for the freshmen sharpshooter. He also came up with four steals – his second consecutive game of four.

JT HITS ‘THE SHOT”
Justin Thomas added to the list of the most memorable finishes in school history against UC Davis Nov. 26, hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Panthers the improbable 87-85 victory. The video of the play has garnered over 660,000 impressions and almost 160,000 views on Twitter and was named one of ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the Day on SportsCenter, checking in at No. 3. Two days later, Thomas became the first Panther to record a double-double this season, helping MKE to a win over SEMO with a 19-point/13 rebound performance.

NOT RAND-DOM AT ALL
Ahmad Rand has already proven he can put the ball in the hoop at a very high level. Against St. Thomas Nov. 23, Rand led the team with 18 points and 8 rebounds, setting a new NCAA DI-scoring high, topping the 15 he scored against Samford in November of 2021. What was even more impressive is the fact that he did not miss – finishing 9-for-9 from the field. That marked the most makes without a miss in program history, finishing one make (minimum 10 makes for the category) of the highest single-game field goal percentage in program history. That record is .846 (10-13), a mark held by Adrian Tigert (2006) and Dylan Page (2003). Through his first 10 games, Rand had four perfect outings (7-7 vs. MSOE, 5-5 vs. Purdue, 2-2 vs. Cardinal Stritch, 9-9 vs. St, Thomas) and added another against Northern Kentucky (4-4) Jan. 12.

KEEPING THE TERRIERS DOWN
Milwaukee continues to lock things down on defense this season and put together of the best efforts in school history to claim a 67-46 victory over Boston U. Nov. 27. The Panthers raced out to a 24-3 lead over the Terriers and never looked back, holding the visitors to a near-school record 13 points in the first half as well as limiting them to 25 percent from the floor overall.

The scoreboard read 32-13 at intermission, with only a BU 3-pointer with 10 seconds left keeping Milwaukee away from a new school record for first-half fewest points allowed. The record of 11 was set back in 2000 (vs. Mount Senario, 12/27/00) and the total of 13 ties for the third-fewest in school history. The 25.9 percent (15-of-58) FG shooting by BU checked in as the fifth-lowest shooting percentage for an opponent in school history.

A FIRST IMPRESSION WITH PUNCH
Bart Lundy earned a big victory in his first game as head coach against MSOE Nov. 7 and did it in impressive fashion historically. The 56-point margin of victory went down as the third-highest in the record book all-time as well as the biggest since a 51-point victory over Judson in December of 2015 (125-74). Lundy then topped that just two games later with a 74-point win against Cardinal Stritch Nov. 12 and now already owns two of the top four largest victories in program history.

+79 Mount Senario (100-21) 12/27/00
+74 Cardinal Stritch (112-38) 11/12/22
+62 Prairie View A&M (117-55) 11/20/04
+56 MSOE (102-46) 11/7/22

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
Not only did the MKE offense put up 100+ points for the second time in four games this season against Cardinal Stritch Nov. 12, but the defense put up a historical performance on Homecoming as well. It had been 179 games since the team last allowed under 40 points to an opponent, dating back to the 37 scored by UC Irvine back in November of 2016.

The 38 allowed to the Wolves goes down as a tie for the third-fewest all-time.
21 vs. Mount Senario, 12/27/2000
37 vs. UC Irvine, 11/26/2016
38 vs. Cardinal Stritch, 11/12/22
38 vs. Wright State, 1/12/12
38 vs. Texas Southern, 11/20/11

The defense came to play, limiting the Wolves to 21.9 percent (14-of-64) from the floor, the lowest mark since the school record was set in 2000.
.189 (7-37) vs. Mount Senario, 12/27/2000
.215 (14-65) vs. UIC, 2/17/96
.219 (14-64) vs. Cardinal Stritch, 11/12/22

TOP OF THE CHARTS
The new-look Panthers have been fun to watch, throwing down dunks with regularity and topping the 100-point barrier twice in the first four games. The 112 points scored against Cardinal Stritch Nov. 12 mark a tie for the fourth-most points scored in a game in MKE’s NCAA Division I history.
125 vs. Judson, 12/13/15
117 vs. Prairie View A&M, 11/20/04
116 vs. Illinois, 12/3/90
112 vs. Northeastern Illinois, 2/2/91
112 vs. Cardinal Stritch, 11/12/22

The game also featured a trio of other entries into the record book. The 41 made field goals finished tied for fourth (record is 47), 55 rebounds was tied for fifth (record is 59), and 17 steals was tied for seventh (mark is 22).

A PERFECT NIGHT
Jalen Johnson put up one of the best statistical nights any Panther has had in some time against Cardinal Stritch Nov. 12, wrapping up the evening with a season-high 17 points. More impressively … he did not miss a shot – making all eight of his field goals as well as a 1-for-1 showing from the line. He would have needed two more makes (10 is the minimum) to qualify for the school record for a single game, which currently sits at .846 (11-of-13), done twice (Adrian Tigert vs. Florida in 2006 and Dylan Page back in 2003 vs. Loyola).

STUART STEPPING UP
It didn’t take Angelo Stuart long to make a great impression with the Panthers, leading the way with 24 points in the 102-46 blowout of MSOE in the season opener Nov. 7. He hit 8-of-11 shots on the night, sinking five 3’s while adding 5 assists. His 24 points were the most for a Panther in a season opener since Paige Paulsen went for 27 in the opener against Radford in 2006-07.

SPREAD THE WEALTH
Not only did the team break past the 100-point barrier in regulation for the first time since November 12, 2019 (a span of 82 games), but the entire lineup chipped in, with 14 players seeing action and 11 of that total seeing 10-plus minutes on the court. The team made 38 field goals and assisted on 26 of them, marking a tie for the fifth-most assists in a game in school history.
32 Judson 12/13/15
32 Prairie View A&M 11/20/04
29 Mount Senario 12/27/00
28 Cleveland State 2/28/04
26 five times total, including vs. MSOE

OFFENSIVE FIRE
The Panthers were consistent each half against MSOE in the opener Nov. 7, hitting on 63.3 percent in the first half and then 59.4 percent in the second half to finish at 61.3 percent (38-of-62) on the night. That field-goal percentage checks in as the 10th-best in program history.
.678 (40-59) Cleveland State 2/8/96
.650 (26-40) UMKC 11/30/13
.639 (39-61) Chicago State 1/19/91
.628 (27-43) South Dakota St. 12/11/10
.627 (47-75) Judson 12/13/15
.625 (30-48) La Crosse 11/10/17
.623 (33-53) IUPUI 1/15/22
.622 (24-45) Youngstown State 1/14/15
.617 (29-47) DePaul 12/5/11
.613 (38-62) MSOE 11/7/22

MORE RECORD BOOK ENTRIES
A look through the record book shows just how impressive the 102-46 victory over the Raiders in the season opener was Nov. 7, adding entries with its nine blocks and +24 rebound margin in addition to the FG% and assists marks. The nine blocks mark a tie for fourth place in a single game all-time:
14 Northern Kentucky 1/4/16
11 Illinois Tech 11/24/95
10 San Diego 12/23/00
9 now 7 times, including MSOE 11/7/22 and St. Thomas 11/23/22

The +24 rebound margin (44-20) now sits in a tie for sixth place.
+36 Loyola 1/28/09
+28 Judson 12/13/15
+28 Wright State 1/20/15
+25 Wright State 2/27/03
+25 Chicago State 3/2/94
+24 MSOE 11/7/22

AND WE’RE OFF
A couple of different looks to the season opener, which saw Milwaukee playing its opening game of the season at home for just the fourth time in the past 10 years. The team is now 20-13 in season openers since returning to the NCAA Division I ranks full-time in 1990-91, which includes the 75-60 victory at North Dakota to start the 2021-22 campaign as well as the big win over MSOE this season. In all, the team is 27-6 in that same span in home openers (while 14-1 in season openers at home), claiming wins in 20 of the past 23 (13 in a row at one point). Also, the Panthers have not lost the season opener when it was played at home since dropping an 80-79 decision to Platteville in November of 1994 (have won the previous 14 in that scenario).

ROSTER UPDATE
Jordan Ratliffe, a redshirt senior who comes to the Panthers after earning multiple postseason honors in three years at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, including First-Team Conference Carolinas All-Conference following the 2021-22 campaign, will unfortunately miss the 2022-23 season due to a knee injury that happened prior to the start of the season.

THERE WILL BE SHOES TO FILL
With such a large list of players having moved on due to graduation and transfer, Milwaukee will be among the teams with the biggest need for newcomers to step into large roles across the entire country.

Milwaukee returns just 11.8 percent of total points from last season, as Vin Baker Jr. (139/5.1 ppg), Markeith Browning (62/4.4 ppg), and Moses Bol (43/1.7 ppg) accounted for just 244 of the 2,073 points the offense accumulated last season, a cumulative average of 11.2 ppg combined.

For rebounds, the number is 17.5 percent returning, with Bol (87), Baker Jr. (86), and Browning (28) grabbing 201 of the 1,149 rebounds overall.

Lastly, will be the experience factor, as Baker Jr. (11), Bol (4), and Browning (0), accounted for just 15 of the 160 total starts that the lineup consisted of during the 32-game season.

Fewest Returning Points Per Game in NCAA
9.1 IUPUI
9.1 West Virginia
11.0 Monmouth
11.2 Milwaukee
12.0 Tennessee Tech
15.4 Southern Mississippi
17.3 Ohio State
17.7 UTRGV
18.4 Northwestern State
19.0 Texas-Arlington
19.9 Illinois State
20.7 South Alabama
24.9 Iowa State

ROSTER OVERHAUL
The Panthers will enter the 2022-23 season with very few familiar faces from a year ago, as the only four returning players include Vin Baker Jr., Markeith Browning, Moses Bol, and Vincent Miszkiewicz. Baker Jr. is the most experienced player in an MKE uniform, having played in 27 games a season ago. Miszkiewicz has technically not yet played for Milwaukee after sitting out last season due to transfer regulations.

The roster includes 13 total newcomers, with a wide variety of backgrounds.
True Freshman (4): Zach Howell, Elijah Jamison, Vinko Polovic, Brian Taylor II
Redshirt Sophomores (2): Markeith Browning II, Vincent Miszkiewicz
Sophomores (4, all transfers): Keon Edwards, BJ Freeman, Kentrell Pullian, Justin Thomas
Redshirt Juniors (2, both transfers): Angelo Stuart, Jalen Johnson
Juniors (1): Dominic Ham
Redshirt Seniors (2): Vin Baker, Jr., Jordan Ratliffe
Seniors (1): Ahmad Rand
Grad Students (1): Moses Bol

LUNDY’S LINE
Head coach Bart Lundy brings an extensive background of success to the Panthers, which includes an impressive run through the postseason that extends many years and a pair of trips to the NCAA DII Final Four in his career. A look back at his past seven seasons reveals the gaudy numbers that were posted.
2021-22: 30-4 overall, 2-1 in NCAA Tournament
2020-21: 16-6 overall, 0-1 in NCAA Tournament
2019-20: 24-7 overall, NCAA’s cancelled
2018-19: 31-5 overall, 3-1 in NCAA Tournament
2017-18: 32-4 overall, 1-1 in NCAA Tournament
2016-17: 30-4 overall, 2-1 in NCAA Tournament
2015-16: 25-7 overall, 1-1 in NCAA Tournament

Lundy enters season No. 21 of his collegiate career with an overall mark of 429-190, a .693 winning percentage.

LOOK AT THAT RESUME
Lundy brings an impressive career resume, most impressively over the past six seasons where he has earned 30-plus victories in four of them while registering a 163-30 mark (.845 winning percentage) in that stretch. His run of three consecutive seasons of 30-or-more victories from 2016 to 2019 (32/30/31) was matched only by Gonzaga across all NCAA levels in that timeframe.

The Royals reached the NCAA Division II Final Four in 2017-18 and the Elite Eight again in 2018-19, as well as advancing to the Sweet 16 on two occasions (2017/2022). Lundy had his team as the top seed in the tournament in 2017 and 2019 and the No. 2 seed in 2019, 2020, and 2022. His overall record in the NCAA Tournament is an impressive 13-6.

AMAZING AHMAD
One of the newcomers to the MKE roster, senior Ahmad Rand, has quite the resume when it comes to shot blocking. Listed at 6-8, he finished eighth in the Pac-12 in blocked shots per game (1.14) last year while appearing in 29 games for Oregon State (33 total blocks). Rand spent his first two years at USC Salkehatchie in Allendale, South Carolina, leading the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in blocked shots per game both seasons, finishing at 4.4 bpg in 2018-19 and 4.98 bpg during the 2019-20 campaign.

His MKE debut was fun to watch as well, finishing with 14 points against the Raiders Nov. 7, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field. Included in those seven made field goals were five dunks, part of the eight total MKE dunks on the night.

TURN THE RADIO UP
This marks the first full hops season that 101.7 FM The Truth will serve as the radio home of the “Educators Credit Union Milwaukee Panthers Men’s Basketball Radio Broadcasts”. Fans can listen to veteran broadcaster Scott Warras, now in his seventh season, call all the play-by-play action on air at 101.7 FM and via live online streaming services. Plus, head coach Bart Lundy will appear on 101.7 FM The Truth’s “MKE in the Morning” shows with Mel and DZ on the first and third Wednesday of every month throughout the 2022-23 basketball regular season.

DEEEEEEEE-FENSE!
The Panthers were very good on defense last season, leading the Horizon League with their .401 opponent field-goal percentage – a number that finished No. 37 in the country. Milwaukee held Green Bay to just 26.0 percent (13-of-50) shooting from the floor Feb. 13, the sixth time last season they held an opponent below .300 (North Dakota was held to .290/Saint Xavier to .297/Northern Kentucky to .294/Green Bay to .278/Wright State to .290). In addition to those six stellar outings, the Panthers also held six other opponents to .388 or less on overall field goal attempts in a game. The 49 points scored by the Phoenix Jan. 5 marked the first time MKE held an opponent under 50 since a 72-49 victory over Detroit Mercy back on Feb. 22, 2018 – a span of 101 games. The team also set a new program record in the category in the NCAA DI era, topping the .413 mark allowed by the team back in the 2004-05 campaign.

IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT
It was a long time coming for Vin Baker Jr., taking the court November 9 of last season for the first time since the end of the 2019 season – a span of 993 days. Since that date, Baker Jr. spent the 2019-20 season sitting with Milwaukee due to transfer regulations and then missing all of the 2020-21 campaign due to injury. But he came up big against North Dakota, contributing 11 points off the bench, including an emphatic dunk in the closing minutes that put the game away and set off a huge celebration on the MKE bench. His 11 points tied his career-best, matching the 11 he scored against Pittsburgh in Feb. 2018.

IT’S OUR HOUSE
Although the building is not new and has been the site to many historic basketball moments in Milwaukee history, this is Milwaukee’s eighth season in an arena that bears its name – UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. In July of 2014, the University and Wisconsin Center District entered into a 10-year partnership that included naming rights to the facility formerly known as The MECCA and U.S. Cellular Arena.

UP NEXT
The Panthers wrap up the homestand with a huge game against Youngstown State Saturday, one of the four teams tied for first place in the Horizon League standings.

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