Friday, March 24, 2023

MBB-FCS: Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (18-9) at Robert Morris Colonials (13-15)

The Milwaukee men’s basketball team looks to help solidify a top-four finish in the Horizon League standings and secure a first-round bye and home-court advantage in the postseason. A bounce-back victory over Robert Morris looks to be the place to start as the team wraps up its regular-season road slate Saturday evening. The matchup against the Colonials is set to tip off at 6 p.m. CST 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.

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 returned 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 Saturday at 13-15 overall while checking in at 8-9 in conference action following back-to-back victories over Green Bay (W, 71-56 Feb. 16) and Purdue Fort Wayne (W, 71-64 Feb. 12). Three players average double-figures, led by Cheeks at 16.2 ppg while connecting on 47.2 percent of his shots from the floor overall. Spear adds 15.5 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds per night, with Josh Corbin rounding out the group in double-figures with his 10.6 ppg average.

Milwaukee leads the all-time series by a count of 4-2, 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. Milwaukee looks to sweep the season series this winter following a 77-69 victory last month in which BJ Freeman led the way with 26 points.

Milwaukee got off to a tough start and could never find its way back, falling to Youngstown State Thursday night at the Beeghly Center.

The Panthers (18-9, 12-5 Horizon league) never had their comeback hopes materialize, falling to the Penguins (21-7, 13-4 Horizon League) in front of their biggest crowd of the year – a near sell-out crowd of 4,425 – in a late-season battle between two teams that came into the night tied for first place in the Horizon League standings.

Milwaukee trailed by 13 at the break and couldn’t turn the game, seeing YSU net eight of the first 11 points of the second half and then continue to build from there, closing out in a final scoreline of 87-58.

MKE was led by Elijah Jamison, who finished with 12 points. BJ Freeman was the only other Panther in double-figures, netting 10 to go along with three assists and a pair of rebounds.

Leather Head Sports

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