Phoenix hope to rise above undefeated Golden EaglesDec 10, 2011 - 3:45 PM Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle brings his team to Milwaukee for tonight's non-conference clash against his alma mater, 11th-ranked Marquette.
Green Bay is a game under .500 at the moment, coming in at 4-5, although the team has already played a couple of Horizon League bouts, winning both. The Phoenix has played the 17th-most challenging slate in the country, including games against Division I foes with a combined record of 50-11, and they are facing a ranked opponent for the second time this week after falling at No. 14 Wisconsin (70-42) on Wednesday. UWGB is 0-5 on the road this season.
Seeking its first 9-0 start since 2004-05, Marquette is on pace to log its seventh straight 20-win campaign. The Golden Eagles played a pair of tough teams in the last week, first winning at Wisconsin last Saturday (61-54), and then getting by Washington in New York City on Tuesday (79-77). MU is 3-0 at home this season, and will try to continue building up a head of steam as it stares down the barrel of a daunting Big East Conference slate, which gets underway on New Year's Day against Villanova.
Marquette leads the all-time series with Green Bay, 8-2, and every meeting has taken place in Milwaukee. Green Bay's last win over the Golden Eagles was a 50-48 decision on January 7, 1995.
Green Bay's strength thus far has been its defensive play, as foes are generating just 62.0 ppg on 41.2 percent shooting from the field, which includes a 32.8 percent effort from three-point range. Unfortunately for coach Wardle's club, it hasn't been able to capitalize on that fact with any degree of consistency as the Phoenix net just 60.1 ppg in hitting a mere 39 percent of their total shots, which includes a 27 percent showing from three-point land. UWGB does own a +3.6 rebounding margin, but again, with only one double- digit scorer, a lack of offensive punch has hurt the team more times than not. Alec Brown (13.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) leads the squad in both scoring and rebounding, and no other player averages more than 7.9 ppg or 5.9 rpg. Brown scored a modest 10 points in Green Bay's blowout loss to Wisconsin, as the team shot just 32.1 percent from the floor and missed 10 of its 12 three-point attempts. The Badgers scored 21 points off 16 turnovers, while the Phoenix did not score a single point off six UW miscues. Green Bay only attempted five free throws in the game.
In stark contrast to their counterpart tonight, the Golden Eagles have had very little trouble lighting up the scoreboard this season, doing so to the tune of 83.5 ppg. They are hitting their field goals at a 49.9 percent clip, but they also get the job done defensively, holding the opposition to 61.0 ppg on typical shooting outputs of 36.9 percent overall, and 29.9 percent from beyond the arc. Turnovers have also played a huge role in the team's early success, as Marquette forces an average of 17.9 giveaways per outing. The team boasts three double-digit scorers, led by Darius Johnson-Odom's 19.9 ppg. A 50.5 percent shooter who has connected on a club-best 16 treys thus far, Johnson-Odom is the spark in the MU backcourt, while up front coach Buzz Williams relies on Jae Crowder to lead by example, and he has responded by posting averages of 17.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest. Vander Blue is netting 10.5 ppg and will need to elevate his game now that starting center Chris Otule is out with a knee injury suffered in the recent win over Washington. Davante Gardner, who will start in place of Otule, leads the team in FG percentage (.600), and freshman Todd Mayo could see his minutes increase after reaching double figures off the bench in each of the last three games.
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