Green Bay, WI – In a game highlighting three of the top mid-major guards in the country in Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes and Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow, it was Sykes’ less heralded backcourt mate, Carrington Love, who topped all scorers with a career high 28 points in leading the Phoenix to a 78-61 victory on Saturday afternoon at the Resch Center in the shadows of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Love, a former star at Milwaukee Pius XI High School, came into the game riding a hot streak averaging 14.6 points per game over his last five contests including a then-career high 20-point effort in Green Bay’s 68-55 victory over 15th ranked Miami on December 6. Converting all seven of his shots from the field in the first half, including two shots from behind the three-point arc, Love really heated up in the second half scoring twice more from distance and attacking the basket to score at the rim.
“Scoring-wise, it’s the best game I’ve had,” said Love. “I made two of our first three baskets and coach (Brian Wardle) and our bench told me to keep on going.”
Sykes contributed 13 points, but it was his overall floor game and six assists that played more into the Phoenix’ win than his scoring.
“Teams are going to key on Keifer and why wouldn’t you?” said Wardle. “Today he affected the game more with his assists, steals, rebounds and the job he did guarding Harrow.”
Harrow scored all 14 of his points in the first half. At 6-2 and quick off the dribble, the former Kentucky and North Carolina State point guard did most of his damage at the rim using crossover and spin dribbles to maneuver into the paint with different release points to beat Green Bay secondary defenders. When his way to basket was blocked, Harrow found cutting teammates with spot-on passes for three first half assists.
But the first half ended on an ominous note for Harrow. Complaining to a referee as the half wound down, Harrow was assessed a technical foul as both teams headed to their locker rooms with the score 37-35 in the Panthers’ favor. Sykes promptly made two free throws after the teams returned to the court to tie the score as second half play began in earnest. Meanwhile, Harrow proceeded to misfire on all seven of his second-half field goal attempts and his one free throw try.
Befitting a game between two of the better mid-major teams in the country, the lead switched hands a number of times in both halves. Jordan Fouse, a 6-7 Green Bay swing forward, used his great length to steal a pass in the Georgia State forecourt, beat defenders down court with the dribble and score on a dunk to give Green Bay a 49-42 lead mid-way through the second half.
But Georgia State rallied behind the shot-making of Hunter. The 6-6 junior wing and son of Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, answered with three baskets in succession to tie the game at 51. Hunter sliced through the Phoenix’ defense to score at the cup to give the Panthers their last lead of the game, 58-57 at the six minute mark.
A lean bodied player with smooth actions who was averaging close to five assists per game in addition to his team-leading 21.2 points per game entering the contest, Hunter did most of his scoring in the paint with an assortment of runners and lay-ins, smartly using the glass from angles. Stepping back to create space for his shot, Hunter also knocked down a jumper from the elbow. Starting the game as a career 83 percent shooter from the foul line, Hunter made four of five free throws as he led the Panthers with 19 points.
Faust answered Hunter’s run with a high-arching shot from deep in the left corner to give Green Bay a 60-57 lead it would never relinquish. “A lot of people think we’re a one-man team,” said Fouse in reference to Sykes. “But when the defense has to worry about Keifer, it opens things up for other players.”
“Jordan Fouse’s three point basket in the second half was one of the biggest shots of his career,” added Wardle. Fouse, a member of the Horizon League All-Defensive Team his first two years with the Phoenix, stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, five rebounds and a team high four steals and seven assists.
Green Bay entered the game on the heels of a 72-70 defeat to California-Irvine in the the championship game of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic on December 22, the winning basket scoring on an Anteaters’ last-second shot. Earlier in December, the Phoenix dropped a 72-48 decision to the same Georgia State team in a game on the Panthers’ home court. “It was a great win for us; a great bounce-back win,” said Wardle.
Wardle, who saw the Hunter-Harrow dual go off for 43 points against the Phoenix in the team’s first meeting, complimented the defensive work Love and Sykes in limiting the Panthers’ starting guards to ten fewer points in the re-match. “I’m very proud of our effort today. Carrington did a tremendous job on Hunter. We let Harrow get loose on some switches in the first half, but we made an adjustment at half-time and Keifer was really good on him in the second half,” said the fifth-year Green Bay coach.
The showcase of prime time, mid-major guards attracted the interest of two NBA general managers. Both John Hammond of the Milwaukee Bucks and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls made the short drives north to Green Bay to scout the game on Saturday afternoon before returning to their respective cities to watch their NBA teams in action in Saturday night home games.
Green Bay improved its record to 10-3 with the victory as it heads into its final non-conference game of the season against Chicago State on Wednesday, December 31 in Green Bay. The loss dropped Georgia State’s record to 7-4 as the Panthers prepare for their Sun Belt Conference opening game at home against Louisiana-Monroe on Tuesday, December 30.
Any international players interested in coming to the USA to play in college, prep school or high school can contact us here. We are looking for interns and sales associates. If you’re interested contact us and forward your resume.