Milwaukee plays Wright State for a third time this season in Quarterfinals of Horizon League Tournament

Panthers and Raiders playing for semifinal spot in Indianapolis

The Milwaukee men’s basketball team continues postseason play Tuesday, heading to Ohio to take on Wright State in Horizon League Basketball Championship quarterfinal action. The Panthers will be looking for some revenge after the Raiders – the No. 2 seed in the tournament – took home wins in both games during the regular season. The matchup will be available on ESPN+ and will see the winner advance to Indianapolis next week. It will have live statistics available and will be carried on the Black & Gold Network with Scott Warras on the call. All links are posted on the MKE website. The full tournament bracket is available on page 19 of this document.

With no fans permitted at all conference venues this season, fans can engage with the Panthers’ Virtual Gameday hub, a page on that houses all links fans will need for the gameday experience.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Nagy – a three-time  Horizon  League  Coach  of  the  Year  –  has  WSU  coming  off  another  successful campaign, finishing 25-7 overall and 15-3 in league play to claim the regular-season title a year ago. He is 109-48 overall as the Wright State head coach coming into play Tuesday, with an impressive .750 winning percentage in conference games at 69-23.

The Raiders finished the regular season 18-5 and tied for a share of the league crown at 16-4 (earning the #2 seed). The offense is led by four different players averaging double-figures, paced by two-time Horizon League Player of the Year Loudon Love at 16.7 ppg. Love adds a double-double at 10.3 rebounds per contest to rank third in the league in that category and is shooting 56.1 percent from the floor. Tanner Holden (15.8 ppg), Grant Basile (14.2 ppg), and Tim Finke (10.0 ppg) round out the list – giving WSU three of the top 16 in the league. Holden (first team) and Basile (second team) were also tabbed for postseason accolades.

The series is close to even, with Wright State holding a 34-30 all-time lead, as well as  33-29  in  Milwaukee’s  NCAA  Division  I  era.  WSU has had the better of it of late, sweeping the season series each of the last three years, as well as knocking Milwaukee out of the postseason in March of 2018 to help extend its winning streak to seven in the matchup overall.

Te’Jon Lucas led four players in double-figures and Milwaukee opened the 2021 Horizon League Tournament with an 84-72 victory over IUPUI Feb. 25. The Panthers (9-11) used a huge scoring run at the end of the first half to take control against the Jaguars (8-10) and then sealed the victory over the final five minutes of regulation with a 12-of-14 showing from the free throw line.

Lucas scored 19 of his team-high 22 points in the second half, adding five rebounds and five assists. DeAndre Gholston went for 20 points and added three steals, while Josh Thomas finished with 13 points and four rebounds. Amir Allen added his second consecutive double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee now holds a 25-18 all-time mark in the Horizon League Tournament after topping IUPUI. The Panthers claimed tournament championships in 2014, 2006, 2005 and 2003. Plus, the Panthers also appeared in the 2017, 2011 and 2004 title games and have advanced as far as the semifinals nine times.

The Panthers made league history and had the city of Milwaukee and state of Wisconsin on the edge of its seat in 2017 when they advanced to the “Motor City Madness” title game as the No. 10 seed. No 10 seed prior had ever won as many as even one game; Milwaukee won three times and came within seven points of what would have been the most unexpected and thrilling NCAA Tournament appearance ever.

Milwaukee and IUPUI did something not seen in quite some time this year – playing each other five times over the course of the 2020-21 campaign. Only seven other series have ever been played more in NCAA history.
7: (1944-1945) Oregon (4 wins) & Washington State (3)
*6 meetings eight times, including twice this year, helped along by the COVID scheduling this winter:
6: Boston University (3 wins) & Holy Cross (3 wins)
6: Lafayette (4 wins) & Loyola Maryland (2 wins)

Te’Jon Lucas was named Third Team All-League Feb. 23, marking the second straight season he earned postseason accolades (Second Team a year ago). He is also the first MBB player to earn postseason honors twice in a career since Matt Tiby did in 2015 and 2016.

In addition to hitting the game-winner in double-OT against Oakland Feb. 20, Te’Jon Lucas also recorded his fourth career double-double with a career-high 13 assists. It goes down as the third-most total assists in a game in school history, but also marks the most for a player in a game in which he had no turnovers.
1. Jordan Johnson 15 assists (February of 2016/5 TO)
2. Kaylon Williams 14 assists (February of 2011/1 TO)
T3. Lucas 13 assists (0 TO)

Playing into double-overtime against the Golden Grizzlies allowed a pair of Panthers to join the all-time record list for minutes played, which is topped by the 52 Darius Roy played against Western Michigan in last season’s three-overtime thriller – a game Roy did not even actually start.
1. Roy: 52 vs. Western Michigan, 11/9/19
2. Josh Thomas: 50 vs. Western Michigan, 11/9/19
3. Te’Jon Lucas: 49 vs. Oakland, 2/20/21
4. DeAndre Gholston: 48 vs. Oakland, 2/20/21

Courtney Brown Jr. also came to play Feb. 20 against Oakland, setting a new career-high with his 15 points just three games after first establishing a new best with 14 against Wright State. He hit 5-of-7 field goals against the Grizzlies, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, scoring 11 of his points in the first two-plus minutes of the second half to propel the Panthers from an eight-point halftime deficit back into the lead.

Te’Jon Lucas hit the 1,000-point milestone against Oakland Feb. 19, becoming the 28th player to do so wearing a Panther uniform, while also joining Jake Wright as the second one to not have spent most of his career at Milwaukee. The most recent to hit the mark in MKE-only games was Matt Tiby in 2016, finishing with 1,332 points (in three seasons). Wright, the most recent, netted his 1,000th in his final collegiate game to close out the 2018-19 season (with 288 of those points coming at MKE).

Josh Thomas led the team in scoring for the first time this season against Northern Kentucky Feb. 6 when he dropped in 19 to lead the offense. Not only did it come on an extremely efficient 8-10 field-goal shooting, but also marked his high (at the time) in a Panther uniform, just edging the former best of 18 he recorded twice last year. Just seven days later, he raised the bar even further. He led the offense against Wright State, going off for 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the floor and has now scored in double-figures in six straight outings.

He managed to take it a stretch further against Oakland Feb. 19-20, scoring 22 each night to become just the second Panther since 2010 to net 20-plus points in three straight games. Darius Roy achieved the feat last season with 25 at Kansas, 24 against Eastern Illinois and 25 more at Wisconsin. The last MKE player to match that feat was Ricky Franklin in January of 2010 (21 v. YSU/23 v. CSU/22 v. Valpo). Avery Smith also accomplished the feat in January of 2009, with the last player to reach 20-plus in four consecutive games being Joah Tucker in January of 2006.

A pair of Panthers set career highs against Wright State Feb. 12, with DeAndre Gholston leading the way with his 29-point outburst. That topped his MKE-high of 24 (set twice) as well as his collegiate high of 27 set back in Nov. of 2019 against Enterprise State. Courtney Brown Jr. also stepped up with a career-high 14 points against the Raiders, while also tying his career best for field goals (5) made and 3’s made (3). That topped his former best of 12 against Oakland in January of 2020.

Freshman Donovan Newby worked his way into the starting lineup, getting the call for the first time against IUPUI Jan. 30. One thing he has been doing amazingly well at all season long is making free throws. With six attempts against IUPUI Feb. 25, he has now reached the record book minimum (40 attempts) and can possibly put his name at the top of the list. He comes into play against the Raiders at .902 (33-of-35). He also made 20 straight earlier this year (missing vs. IUPUI Jan. 29), making him just the third player to sink at least 20 straight since Jordan Aaron set the school mark of 32 back in 2012-13. Matt Tiby (20 in 2013-14) and Vance Johnson (26 twice in 2018-19) are the others.
1. Pat Easterlin (1993-94): .870 (40-46)
2. Jordan Aaron (2012-13): .864 (95-110)
3. Vance Johnson (2018-19): .860 (80-93)
4. J.J. Panoske (2014-15): .857 (36-42)
5. James Eayrs (2008-09): .849 (62-73)

The “comeback kids” added another recent chapter, overcoming an early 13-point hole to top IUPUI Jan. 30.  Down 14 points with 2:46 to play against Cleveland State Jan. 23, things looked a bit bleak for the Panthers before pulling off the improbable 81-80 victory. As crazy as it sounds, the team has had three similar finishes in recent history.

*Dec. 13, 2018: Down 9 points with 2:45 to play against Kansas City, MKE scored the final 12 points of the day to turn a 66-57 deficit into a 69-66 victory.
*Nov. 19, 2017: The team erased a 19-point first-half hole against Elon, closing the game on a 12-2 run to earn the buzzer-beating 72-71 victory.
*Jan. 22, 2017: MKE closed regulation on a 13-4 spree against Youngstown State over the final 6:32 to force overtime, eventually winning 94-85.

The last comeback that featured such a quick comeback from a double-digit deficit came Jan. 31, 2009, when the Panthers trailed UIC, 61-51, with 1:27 remaining before winning on a Deion James three-pointer as time expired, 63-62.

For the third time in his career, Te’Jon Lucas has netted 30-plus points in a game. And, for the third time, he ended the contest with exactly 31 points – this time against Cleveland State Jan. 23. He added 10 rebounds against the Vikings, posting the third double-double of his career.

Lucas also went for 31 points and 12 rebounds against IUPUI Feb. 8 of last season. He scored 16 of his 31 in the final 12 1/2 minutes, including what turned into the eventual game-winner with 7.0 seconds left. The first 31-point game came against Green Bay Jan. 11.

DeAndre Gholston scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time in his collegiate career against Cleveland State Jan. 22-23, capping the weekend with the game-winning layup with 3.2 seconds left. He set a new MKE high each time with 20 in the opener, then 21 the next day while adding 7 rebounds in both. He continued that hot stretch of offense with another 24-point effort against IUPUI Jan. 30 to up his season-high yet again.

The Panthers finished an impressive 26-of-30 (.867) from the free throw line against Vikings Jan. 23 and are now at .732 (300-410) on year and could still end up with one of the best seasons in program history (the top two marks are .772 and .746).

The last time MKE made as many as 26 free throws in a game that didn’t go into overtime was a 28-of-35 effort against Detroit Mercy in the Horizon League Tournament in March of 2017. Since then they have made more on two occasions, sinking 33 against LIU Brooklyn (OT) in November of 2018 and 32 against WMU (3OT) in November of 2019.

Tafari Simms enjoyed the best breakout offensive game for a Panther in decades against IUPUI Jan. 8. His 32 points were noteworthy on so many levels.
*Topped his former collegiate-best of 21 points against New Mexico Junior College Jan. 30, 2020.
*Most for a Panther since Akeem Springs netted 33 against Youngstown State in January of 2016.
*Most points off the bench since Avery Smith scored 36 against Oakland in December of 2006.
*Outside of Simms and Smith’s performances, just one other Panther has scored 30-plus off the bench in the past two decades (Jeremiah Bell had 31 vs. Detroit Mercy in March of 2017).
*Simms had just 12 points on the season coming into the day. For perspective, he scored 12 points during the decisive 19-0 run against the Jags.
*Added his name to the MKE record book in both the single-game field goal (.769) and single-game three-point field-goal (.833) categories.

Tafari Simms also added his name to the program record book with his impressive shooting display against IUPUI Jan. 8. His 32 points included a 10-for-13 showing from the floor and a 5-for-6 showing free three-point range.

.846 (11-13) Adrian Tigert 2006
.846 (11-13) Dylan Page 2003
.833 (10-12) Bryce Nze 2017
.833 (10-12) Marc Mitchell 1992
.769 (10-13) Three players, now including Simms.
*Last to do so: Avery Smith 2006

1.000 (6-6) Joe Schultz 1991
1.000 (5-5) 4 times, most recent Darius Roy 2020
.833 (10-12) Ronnie Jones 2002
.833 (5-6) Simms

The Panthers put up their most points in a first half this season against IUPUI Jan. 8 with 44, topping the 40 they scored by halftime against Western Michigan Dec. 13. The 94 total points they ended the contest with are also the most points in a game that did not go into overtime since piling up 98 against UIC back on February 28, 2016.

In addition, the MKE offense posted back-to-back shooting highs as a team, starting with 52.5 percent (31-of-59) Friday before topping that with a 55.8 percent (29-of-52) clip on Saturday. Both of those were the highest since a .609 performance against Wisconsin Lutheran on Nov. 12 of 2019 and the best against an NCAA DI opponent since connecting on 58.5 percent (31-of-53) showing against Albany back on November 30, 2018. Milwaukee’s 56.5 percent (13-of-23) performance from three-point range against the Jaguars Jan. 8 was also its highest since that same game against Albany. That afternoon they sank 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from deep in a game played in a tournament in Northern Ireland.

Grant Coleman tied for the team lead with his 16 points against Robert Morris Jan. 1, marking the first time a freshman led MKE in scoring in a game since January of the 2016-17 campaign. That month, both Jeremy Johnson (17 points against Cleveland State 1/20/17) and Bryce Nze (22 against UIC 1/17/17) accomplished the feat. His five three-pointers in a game is also the high-water mark for a freshman since Austin Arians sank five against Loyola Chicago in a 17-point effort back on January 30, 2013.

The Panthers started Horizon League play with a pair of wins, moving to 2-0 to open the conference slate for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign. It also marked the first regular-season sweep of the Phoenix since that same winter. Te’Jon Lucas paced the win Dec. 19 by scoring 18 of his 21 points in the second half, leading the way in scoring, rebounding (7) and assists (6) in the contest. The next day it was DeAndre Gholston coming through with his first double-double as a Panther, netting a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds to pace four players in double-figures.

The Panthers claimed their first victory of the season against Western Michigan with a strong finish Dec. 13, with Te’Jon Lucas playing the leading role down the stretch. His 1-of-2 effort at the line with 2:39 left started the decisive span, pushing the lead to 60-57. After a WMU miss, he hit a tough shot in the paint and, following another miss by the Broncos, found Courtney Brown Jr. for a huge three-pointer that made it 66-57 with 1:06 to go. Lucas then made 5-of-6 from the line over the final 33 seconds to ice the win. He accounted for each of MKE’s final 11 points, scoring eight of them while assisting Brown Jr.’s three.

Milwaukee broke a recent skid in Horizon League openers, topping Green Bay (68-65) after having dropped the initial game of the conference slate each of the past six seasons, dating back to an 82-76 victory over Youngstown State in 2013-14. Since joining the MCC/Horizon League, Milwaukee is now 14-13 in league openers. The last time the team was 2-0 was 2011-12, the same year they started 3-0 before a loss. The last 4-0 start came in 2008-09 (in which they started 5-0).

Te’Jon Lucas wasted no time in setting the bar for what he can do in the passing game. He recorded nine assists in the season-opener against Kansas State Dec. 11, finishing just one off of his career-high that he set against Kansas City last season. The nine helpers is also the most in a season opener in Milwaukee’s NCAA DI history, with the closest totals over the past 25 years coming from Jordan Johnson (7 vs. Denver in 2015) and Jordan Aaron (7 vs. Mary in 2012).

The Panthers had four different players finish in double-figures in the season opener against Kansas State Dec. 11, including one freshman when Grant Coleman scored 14 points off the bench. That marked the most points for a freshman in a season opener since Tony Meier recorded a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds against Loyola Marymount on November 14, 2008. The last time someone had more was when Clay Tucker lit up Central Michigan for 24 in his MKE debut in the 1999 opener – a game he sank a three at the buzzer to win. In addition, it marks only the third time since Meier that a frosh has netted double-figures in the opener: Jeremy Johnson had 11 against MSOE in 2016-17 and Justin Jordan also finished with 11 in the 2014-15 debut against Auburn. Coleman’s six rebounds against the Wildcats tied for the team lead – again the first time that has been accomplished by a freshman since Meier’s 12 in 2008.

The Panthers saw four different freshmen make their collegiate debuts against Kansas State Dec. 11, with Grant Coleman (20 minutes), Kaleim Taylor (14), Donovan Newby (8) and Devon Hancock (2) all seeing time on the court against the Wildcats. It’s the most freshmen to see action in a season opener for the Panthers since the 2016-17 campaign. That season, six different freshmen made their initial college debuts against MSOE: Bryce Barnes, Sam Burkhart, August Haas, Seth Dittmer, Bryce Nze, and Jeremy Johnson.

DeAndre Gholston put together an impressive debut for the Panthers against Kansas State in the season opener Dec. 11. He led the way with 15 points against the Wildcats, adding six rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks. It’s the second consecutive season that Milwaukee has seen a great debut by a JUCO transfer – a year ago it was Josh Thomas who finished with 18 points against Concordia Wisconsin.

The program was paused in late November due to COVID-19 protocols, forcing the Panthers to cancel the MKE Classic and postpone the start of the new campaign. The 2020-21 season-opening date of Dec. 11 is the first to take place in the month of December since the 1992-93 campaign (Dec. 1 that season) and the latest in program history since the 1926-27 slate tipped off on Dec. 22, 1926. In addition, as of January 11, the team had played as many games (7) as it had cancelled due to COVID protocols (7).

Te’Jon Lucas is in the midst of a memorable senior season. Following a junior campaign in which he led the Horizon League in assists and steals while also scoring nearly 15 points per game, Lucas will be on the short list of everyone’s conference Player of the Year candidates. In addition to topping the field in assists and steals, Lucas also ranked third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), fifth in free throw percentage (79.4), ninth in minutes played (33.4 mpg), and 12th in scoring.

There will be numerous new faces for the fans to get to know this season. In fact, just one team in the country at the NCAA Division I level has more newcomers than the eleven MKE now has on the 2020-21 roster.
12 – Arkansas
(4 grad transfers/3 transfers/5 freshmen)
11 – Milwaukee
11 – Alcorn State
11 – Arizona
11 – New Mexico
11 – Seattle
11 – South Dakota

The makeup of Milwaukee’s 11 fresh faces breaks down to the following:
Transfers set to play (2):
Vin Baker Jr.Joey St. Pierre
Transfers who will sit (1):
Jordan Lathon (Jr.)
JUCO transfers (2):
DeAndre GholstonTafari Simms
Redshirt Freshmen (1):
Tyler Ellingson
True Freshmen (5):
Donovan NewbyDevon HancockKaleim TaylorNick PappasGrant Coleman

The updated 2020-21 Horizon League schedule for Panthers features a unique slate of 20 games split evenly between home and road venues. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the setup of the games is unprecedented, with teams playing the same opponent on back-to-back dates at the same location. Each school will have five home weekends and five road weekends and will play 10 of 11 league opponents (Milwaukee will not play Youngstown State.)

The Panthers returned five players who made starts in 2019-20, including a pair of players in Te’Jon Lucas (30-of-30, missing one to injury) and C.J. Wilbourn (30-of-31) that started 30 of the team’s 31 contests. In addition, MKE returned Josh Thomas (20 starts in 31 games), Courtney Brown Jr. (starts in 16 of final 17 outings while playing in all 31 games), and Amir Allen (10 starts in 23 appearances).

Te’Jon Lucas pulled off a pair of special statistical achievements last winter, finishing as the Horizon League leader in both assists (5.1 apg) and steals (1.9 spg). In finishing No. 1 on the assist chart, he joined Kaylon Williams (league leader in 2010-11 and 2011-12) as the only other Panther to do so in program history while also becoming the first MKE player to pace the league in steals. In the process, he became just the fifth Horizon League player to accomplish the double-No. 1 feat.
The others:
*Kay Felder, Oakland (2013-14)
*Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State (2008-09)
*Roy Simms, Detroit Mercy (1982-83)
*Darius Clemons, LaSalle (1980-81).

Te’Jon Lucas got the nod as a member of the second team when the Horizon League announced its All-Conference Teams last winter, making him the first Panther to earn a postseason award since Jeremiah Bell was also a second-team honoree in 2017-18. In addition, C.J. Wilbourn was also recognized, earning a spot on the Horizon League All-Freshmen Team. He was the first Panther to be named to the All-Freshman team since Jordan Aaron in 2012-13 (formerly the All-Newcomer team).

With his league-leading assists total finishing at 153, Te’Jon Lucas was creeping up on an all-time mark as a junior. He finished with the sixth-best total in program history, just behind Marc Mitchell’s 156 in 1991-92. For perspective, Kaylon Williams set the standard with 178 in 2010-11.

MKE had two of the top five in free-throw percentage in the Horizon League a season ago, with Te’Jon Lucas (.794 on 108-136) at No. 5 and Darius Roy (.815 on 97-119) checking in at No. 4. After passing the minimum amount of attempts to qualify for the career free throw percentage list in program history, Roy was knocking on the door of a school record. The current mark of .838 (207-of-247) is held by Jordan Aaron (2012-14). Roy finished his Milwaukee career at .828 (183-of-221).

Lucas himself looks to keep a three-year trend going, having converted at a better rate from the free throw line each of his three college seasons:

FRESHMAN: 42-of-71 (.592)
SOPHOMORE: 32-of-52 (.615)
JUNIOR: 108-of-136 (.794)
CAREER: 182-of-259 (.703)

A couple of different looks to the season opener, which saw Milwaukee playing its opening game of the season on the road for the fifth time in eight years. The team is now 18-13 in season openers since returning to the NCAA Division I ranks full-time in 1990-91, including a 72-62 victory over Concordia Wisconsin to start the 2019-20 slate a year ago. In all, the Panthers have also posted a 4-12 mark in season openers played away from home in that span. On the flip side, MKE is 25-5 in that same stretch in home openers, claiming victories in 18 of the past 20 (13 in a row at one point). This was the fourth opener for head coach Pat Baldwin, having gone 2-1 over the previous three seasons at the helm.

While it may have been a bit of time since the Panthers last made the SportsCenter Top 10, they did so with a bang Jan. 5 last season. Te’Jon Lucas’ game-winner against UIC not only made the list, but came in at No. 1 on the “Worldwide Leader in Sports”. It is the first time the Panthers have ever earned the top spot on the highlight feature.

Each and every Panther game this season will be available on the Black & Gold Network. In conjunction with the website, Scott Warras – back for his fifth season with the MKE men and 15th with the Panthers overall – will broadcast every game over the internet at the following link:

With the announcement of no fans in the stands throughout the 2020-21 campaign, fans can still be part of the in-arena feel with the option to download game programs as the season rolls on. Head to the MKE website and click on the “Gameday” tab for download options.

Former Milwaukee forward Demetrius Harris (2011-13) was once again on the active roster in the National Football League in 2020, playing with the Chicago Bears following one season with the Cleveland Browns and five years with the Kansas City Chiefs. An undrafted free agent to start his career, he caught seven passes for 45 yards this season, making five starts in 15 appearances. Coming into 2020, Harris had caught 79 passes for 799 yards, including nine touchdowns. The first Panther to play in the NFL since 1983, Harris played two seasons at Milwaukee and helped the team to a College Basketball Invitational appearance in 2012 before putting up 9.1 ppg and 5.3 rpg in 2012-13. The 6-foot-7 Harris made his NFL debut when he appeared in eight games as a tight end for the Chiefs in 2014 and hauled in three passes for 20 yards before suffering a season-ending foot injury during warm-ups against Buffalo in early November.

Although the building is not new and has been the site to many historic basketball moments in Milwaukee history, this is Milwaukee’s sixth season in an arena that bears its name – UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. In July of 2014, the University and Wisconsin Center District entered into a 10-year partnership that included naming rights to the facility formerly known as The MECCA and U.S. Cellular Arena.

The Panthers would advance to the Horizon League Tournament semifinals in Indianapolis, Ind., March 8 with a win. A loss would end the 2020-21 season.



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