Tough roads to traverse

It is widely accepted throughout sports that teams in general play better at home then they do on the road and college basketball is no exception to this. The NCAA tournament selection committee looks favorable at teams that are successful on the road with better positions in the tournament because they recognize that winning on the road is not an easy task. Even though the Selection Committee won’t be looking at them this year, the Milwaukee Panthers have looked like two different teams at points this season.
The Panthers will enter into Thursday’s game at UIC with a road record of 0-11 on the season including 0-5 so far in conference games. Contrast that with the Panthers solid 9-4 record at home this season. The Panthers will need to address some of the factors that have given them problems on the road this season in order to beat the UIC Flames Thursday night and get their first road victory of the season.
One of the factors that have caused the Panthers issues on the road this season has been poor offensive shooting percentages and overall offensive execution in general. The Panthers offense has been held to 60 points or less on eight occasions this season. Six of those nine occasions occurred on the road one was on a neutral site and the other was to Wisconsin and to Valpo. In contrast, in the six games where the Panthers have scored over 71 points, five of those games have occurred at home with the only exception being the game at Auburn.
From a shooting perspective, there have been ten games so far this season where the Panthers have shot 40% or less seven of those games have been on the road with the exceptions being a neutral site game, and home games to Concordia St. Paul and Wisconsin. Similarly it is much of the same story from three point range. The Panthers have had six games so far this season where they have shot 20% or less from three point range and all six of those occurrences have been on the road. In contrast, the Panthers have had eight games where they shot over 40% from three point range six of those games occurred at home and another one of those was on a natural site.
The Panthers road issues have not been limited to merely just offense alone. In the last six road games the Panthers have allowed 78.5 points per game and allowed opponents to shoot 53.9% from the field (186 for 345) and 38.3% from beyond the arc (31 for 81). In contrast at home this season, the Panthers have only allowed 64.6 points per game and limited opponents 43.6% (313 for 718) shooting from the field.
The Panthers defeated the flames by a score of 71-65 several weeks ago but the Panthers cannot take the flames lightly going into this game. UIC has won two of their last three conference games and five of their nine conference losses have come by eight or fewer points. Over the past four games the Flames are averaging 74.5 points per game and are shooting 46% (98 for 213) and 50.6% (42 for 83) from beyond the arc so defense will be key for the Panthers, specifically forcing the Flames off the three point line. The Flames recent resurgence has been led by junior guard Paris Burns who is averaging 19 points per game and shoot 60% on three point attempts over the last four games. In a game last week against Wright State, Jay Harris, Paris Birns and Ahman Fells combined to score 63 of the teams 79 total points for the game. In addition, Jay Harris leading the Flames in scoring with 14 points per game. Harris remains one of the best free throw shooters in the conference and in the country so it will be important to keep him off the free throw line. Harris is also four point short of 1,000 for his career. UIC as a team hits almost 74% of their free throws and that is the top mark in the conference and 31st best percentage in the country so the Panthers need to keep them off the free throw line in order to get their first road victory of the season.

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