Rebounding in the NIT Season Kickoff: Milwaukee Decimates Texas State 96-77

Now this is more like it! Less than 24 hours after I criticized and questioned this team's ability to shut down low-major and D-II non-con foes, your Milwaukee Panthers utterly destroyed Texas State in Fort Worth, Texas as the first of the two final consolation games ended in a Panther route of the over-matched/out-of-sorts Cougars.

The amazing thing is this: we still did not play well (20+ turnovers) and the refs called fouls for even the slightest contact (64 fouls were called, the majority going against UWM). Every time the Panthers began to gain some serious momentum, you could almost predict another whistle to halt the attack. Listening on the radio- it was often hard to distinguish the sound of sneakers squeaking from the ever-blowing whistles of the foul-happy Texas' officials.

We can't complain much about this one though. Milwaukee posted season-best team shooting numbers .521 (25-48) from the field and an amazing .571 (12-21) from 3pt range (amazing esp. in light of the fact we had shot ourselves up a brick house from outside the arc prior to this game).

James Eayrs had a ridiculously accurate career game- 28 points (9-10 FG, 4-4 FT, 6-7 3pt), 5rbs, 2stls in just 19 minutes of floor time! Eayrs could have scored 40+, but obviously he needs the rest for the Colgate finale tomorrow.

Ricky Franklin (12pts, 5ast) and Deonte Roberts (14pts, 5rbs, 6ast) provided all the additional firepower needed to get the blowout started, and Ja'Rob McCallum (8pts) had his first (pleasantly surprising) breakout game. He, Lonnie and others were out there taking full advantage of their extra minutes due to the nature of the lopsided score all game.

The new freshmen are beginning to make a name for themselves. Lonnie and Ja'Rob may turn out to be a lot more productive than anyone anticipated. And we haven't even begun to talk about the best freshman walk-on in the Horizon League (Patrick Souter).

More on him in a future post- but I will say this, it seems like everyone including the staff is surprised by how easily Patrick has transitioned to the college level- especially considering the fact he is only a little over a year removed from an ACL injury.

He has some ball control issues to work through (just as Deonte did early in his freshman and sophomore years), but he is as lightning quick as any point guard in D-I, and has looked more like an upperclassmen scholarship player than a newbie walk-on in several games this season.

Tony Meier (8pts, 3rbs) still seems to still be mired in somewhat of a sophomore slump, but I suspect it won't last much longer. Anyone who saw what he did all of last year knows that it is only a matter of time before "Mega Man" Meier breaks out and starts dropping long-range treys and teardrops in the paint- with authority. A lot of it starts with keeping himself out of foul trouble!

All in all, this game has given us Panther fans renewed faith in a team that seems to have considerable depth and potential. A big win tomorrow is essential to keep this thing going. Good teams don't struggle against bad teams- and that is exactly what happened tonight against Texas State. I think it's fair to expect the same energy to light it up against Colgate, but we shall see soon enough...

Same place, same time (only on WISN 1130 radio and ESPN Gametracker). As I said a few posts ago... it is ripe time to start winning in bunches. We have a ways to go before the much bigger non-con challenges against Marquette, North Dakota State, Miami (OH), and Wisconsin. Let's hope, for the second day in a row, this Panther team makes another positive statement with a decisive win.