Coming off losses to two nationally ranked teams in Kansas City, the Marquette Golden Eagles will return home to Milwaukee to try and rebound against their intra-city rivals, the Milwaukee Panthers.
MU is coming off a stretch in which they played three games in four days, including nationally ranked matchups with Duke and Gonzaga in KC.
In those games, MU's struggles from the perimeter continued and they were exposed on the offensive glass.
It also looks to be a test for the Golden Eagles when you consider the opportunity this game represents for the Panthers. The Panthers get to play Marquette in their home building with the chance to make a statement to college basketball fans in the city and state. On the line is a 37-game streak in which Marquette has never lost to Milwaukee.
Saturday's matchup will present Marquette with its first "true" road game. The US Cellular Arena, however, is located one block away from the Bradley Center.
The Panthers (3-3) head into Saturday's coming off of a 67-55 loss to Western Michigan on Tuesday. A few days prior, UWM recorded their most impressive win of the year against last year's NCAA Tournament underdogs Northern Iowa.
Head coach Rob Jeter is looking to continue to improve on prior season's success. He led the Panthers to a 20-win season last year after winning 17 games the year before. He did lose his top two scorers from last season in Ricky Franklin and James Eayrs. Franklin also led the team in assists while Eayrs led the team in rebounds.
This year, the Panthers have shown a balanced scoring attack this year, with seven guys averaging six or more points per game. In addition, eight players are averaging 10 or more minutes per contest under Coach Jeter.
Leading the way is redshirt senior Tone Boyle, who has reestablished himself as the team's leader after missing all of last season with a back injury. Boyle was a second team all-Horizon league player in 2008-09 and was named to the conference's all-Newcomer team, after playing his first two years at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
This season, Boyle is averaging 15.5 points per game and is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc. Senior forward Anthony Hill joins Boyle in double figures with 13.0 points per game. Hill is also leading the team with 7.0 rebounds per game.
Guards Ryan Allen, Ja'Rob McCallum, Lonnie Boga, and Kaylon Williams along with forward Tony Meier all average six points or more per game for the Panthers. Williams leads the team in assists at just over four per game.
With the depth the Panthers have at guard position, they do not turn the ball over all too frequently. In addition, their slashing style leads to many trips to the free throw line. It will be interesting to see if and how much the Golden Eagles decide to pressure UWM's guards.
One spot where MU should be able to take advantage is on the interior. Even with Davante Gardner's injury, Marquette should still have a large advantage on the interior. Just three Panthers taller than 6-foot-3 play significant minutes. Look for the Golden Eagles to go to Otule, Crowder and Butler often on the inside.
As MU looks to rebound from back-to-back losses, they will need to bring their "A" game on Saturday night as the Milwaukee Panther basketball team will be hungry for an upset.
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