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Keifer Sykes Catches Fire To Lead Green Bay Past Chicago State for 11th Win of the Season

Kefier Sykes, scoreless in the first half, awoke in the second half and scored 16 points to give the Phoenix a win in their final nonconference game.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

You know that old saying, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish?" Keifer Sykes took that saying to heart Wednesday afternoon.

After being held to just two shots -- both misses --in the first half, Sykes refocused and put on a show after halftime, as Green Bay held off Chicago State, 54-50, in its final nonconference game of the season.

Chicago State executed a game plan focused on shutting down Sykes early on and not allowing him to get any open looks around the basket. The zone defense employed by the Cougars forced the Phoenix to shoot from the outside, and Green Bay was unable to knock down their 3-pointers, going 1-for-11 in the first half.

Green Bay shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the first half, but was able to play great pressure man-to-man defense on Chicago State holding them to 25.9 percent shooting and went into halftime up 23 to 20.

The Phoenix got the pep talk they needed at halftime from coach Brian Wardle, as they jumped out on a 12-4 run, and pushed the lead to 12 points before the Cougars made a run to close the gap.

Sykes came out in the second half on a mission, igniting the offense with a 3-pointer and another basket before the first television timeout. He went 6-for-11 from the field in the half, including two 3-pointers, to finish with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Carrington Love, coming off a two-game set in which he scored 28 and 16, which earned him the Horizon League player of the week, finished with 10 points.

Chicago State was led by Trayvon Palmer who finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The win gave Green Bay its 11th victory this year, the best nonconference, regular season start for the Phoenix since the 1991-1992 season when they went 10-1 outside the Mid-Con.

The Phoenix start Horizon League play Monday, Jan. 5, when they host Wright State.