Panthers open league tournament play today

Kaylon Williams and his teammates have set their sights high.

The UWM men’s basketball team opens Horizon League Tournament play Tuesday night with a matchup against UIC at the Klotsche Center. The game between the fourth-seeded Panthers (19-12, 11-7 Horizon) and ninth-seeded Flames (8-21, 3-15) tips off at 7 p.m.

Milwaukee actually finished in a tie for third place with Detroit and Butler. The Titans won the tiebreaker to claim third, with the Panthers landing fourth and the Bulldogs fifth. Valparaiso clinched the Horizon League regular-season championship with a 66-62 victory over Loyola last Tuesday.

“We’re definitely really confident with how we are playing right now, but we know we can get better,” UWM senior Tony Meier said. “Like Coach says, there are those lulls in games that we seem to have and we obviously need to try and work on fixing those. But we’re definitely confident as a team and excited to start the league tournament.”

Tony Meier

Tony Meier passed 1,000 career points last weekend/

UWM will be facing UIC for the second time in six days, with Milwaukee claiming a 72-61 win at the UIC Pavilion Thursday. But the Flames nearly knocked off the Panthers in Milwaukee back in December before falling 73-71 in overtime. Head Coach Rob Jeter knows UWM will have its hands full Tuesday.

“We knew whoever we were going to get Tuesday night, it was going to be a battle,” Jeter said. “The scouting reports are still fresh. We go from not playing UIC for almost three months to playing them back to back within a few days. It’s going to be difficult – we know that. Their inside game is a concern, along with their guard play. We’re going to need a special effort to pull out the victory.”

Milwaukee is looking to advance to the league title game for the second-straight season, but will need to win three games this week to accomplish that. The league has been tight all season, with seven teams winning at least 10 games.

The game is being played on campus due to a conflict at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Tickets are $10 and are available through the Panther Ticket Office (414-229-5886) or at the doors to the Klotsche Center on Tuesday. UWM students are admitted free with a valid ID, and will also receive free pizza and T-shirts. There is a pregame reception for season ticket holders and UWM faculty and staff.

Fans who can’t make it to the game can watch the action live on Sports32. WISN (AM 1130) will also carry the game, and online streams of the video and audio are both available.

The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to a second-round contest Friday night against either fifth-seeded Butler or eighth-seeded Wright State. Top-seeded Valparaiso plays the winner of that game Saturday in the semifinals.