If Keifer Sykes were a boxer, they may have to create a new weight class for him. The diminutive point guard for Green Bay would probably still dominate if he were thrown in with the heavyweights though.
There is a lot of fight in that small dog.
When Milwaukee tried to keep him down Sunday afternoon, they saw just how much that dog fights back. Sykes scored a career-high 34 points in a 93-86 overtime victory for the Phoenix.
The Panthers did everything they could to keep tight control over the Phoenix offense. They shut down Alec Brown inside. They used their significant height advantage to make sure that Green Bay was forced to take more jumpers than Brian Wardle is probably comfortable with.
But when things looked on the verge of getting out of hand, there was Sykes calmly pulling up outside and knocking down shot after shot.
He made three 3-pointers, none more important than the one that landed in the bottom of the net with three minutes remaining. It drew Green Bay back within four points of Milwaukee at just the right time. It also seemed to ignite the Phoenix again, as Brown used the next trip to hit his third of the day from deep.
But this was Sykes' show from beginning to end. He dealt with being the focal point when Brown was forced to the bench with foul trouble. He dealt with trying to play defense against guys who probably had a foot on him. He did it all: eight rebounds, five assists, a steal.
He needed to counteract a big game from Jordan Aaron who looked like he may be the Phoenix slayer multiple times on the afternoon. Aaron hit two 3-pointers in a row at one point, part of his five on the afternoon, to just derail any momentum that Green Bay thought it was building as they tried time and again to climb back into the game.
But unlike Sykes, he wasn't enough. He had 26 points, but committed a crucial turnover as the clock ran down in regulation. It happened against a rejuvenated Green Bay defense in the final minute, that carried over into overtime.
The Phoenix put all caution on hold in the extra five minutes, allowing Milwaukee to score just a single field goal after regulation. Brown didn't need to worry about his team without him, any longer, finally being the man inside that they desperately needed.
Aaron got some help with a huge game from Matt Tiby, who had 20 points, including an answer 3-pointer to Brown in that final stretch. And TIby was a force on defense shutting down Brown, and frustrating him as he tried to body up against the Panther big man.
Milwaukee showed why they are very dangerous in the Horizon League this season, especially with all that size, and most especially at home.
But when the final bell rung, it was Sykes and the Phoenix holding their arms high, the prize fight winners.