GAME NOTES: As the 43rd program in college basketball history to reach 1,500 wins, the Marquette Golden Eagles now set their sights on their next milestone victory, beginning with a meeting against the Green Bay Phoenix at the Resch Center on Wednesday.
Over the weekend, Marquette easily disposed of Savannah State by a score of 71-51, which was not only the second straight win and the fifth in the last six outings for the program but also moved them to 1,500-914 as they play in their 96th season of basketball. While the landmark victory is certainly an important one, it should also be noted that within the Big East Conference where Marquette competes, there are eight other schools already with more all- time wins.
As for the Phoenix, this is their first-ever meeting with Marquette to be played on their home floor. Unfortunately for Green Bay, the team is coming into the contest on a four-game slide following a 72-70 setback versus Southern Illinois on Saturday. Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle, who played for Marquette from 1997-2001, can only hope that hosting the Golden Eagles will be an advantage for Green Bay since this will be just the second true road game for the visitors.
The Golden Eagles have won all but two of the previous 11 meetings between the teams, capturing a 79-61 victory in the most recent encounter last season.
Marquette shot only 1-of-9 behind the 3-point line against Savannah State on Saturday, but still the hosts had little trouble picking up the lopsided win as they forced 21 turnovers and outscored SSU at the free-throw line by a 24-9 margin. Vander Blue and Davante Gardner both scored 14 points for the home team, followed by Junior Cadougan and Steve Taylor, Jr. with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Blue, a starter in all eight games in which he has appeared, leads the team with 13.5 ppg as a 42.9 percent shooter behind the three-point line. Gardner (12.7 ppg) mans the interior where he is pulling down six rebounds a game, while his close proximity to the basket has helped him to shoot 57.0 percent from the floor. Defensively, this group is limiting the opposition to just 60.3 ppg on 28.6 percent accuracy beyond the arc.
In a game that featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes, Green Bay led by as many as eight points with just under four minutes remaining in the first half, but the team fell behind by four points in the final minute of the second half and the Phoenix failed to rise to the challenge. Keifer Sykes did all he could to keep Green Bay in the mix with his 22 points and five assists, followed by Kam Cerroni with 14 points off the bench, but it simply wasn't meant to be as the team turned the ball over 16 times. Guilty of five miscues himself, Alec Brown did contribute in a positive manner with 10 points and seven rebounds. Playing close to 34 minutes per game, Sykes tends to be the go-to guy for the Phoenix, which is why he is averaging a team-best 16.4 ppg. But more than that, he's also comfortable with getting his teammates involved in the action, resulting in a team-high 31 assists.
Playing on the road for the first time in this series will certainly be a different feeling for the Golden Eagles, but the outcome should still be the same as the team notches win number 1,501.
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