Preview: Colonials begin new year with two-game series versus Milwaukee

Jon+Williams+and+the+Colonials+battle+the+Milwaukee+Panthers+this+weekend+to+begin+the+2021+portion+of+their+schedule.+Photo+Credit%3A+Ethan+Morrison

Jon Williams and the Colonials battle the Milwaukee Panthers this weekend to begin the 2021 portion of their schedule. Photo Credit: Ethan Morrison

By Ethan Morrison, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.– After splitting their first two games of conference play against Purdue Fort Wayne (2-3, 1-3 Horizon), Robert Morris (2-3, 1-1 Horizon) looks to start the new year off on the right foot as they take on the Milwaukee Panthers (3-1, 2-0) January 1-2 at the UPMC Events Center.

Recapping RMU

Robert Morris got their first taste of Horizon League conference play last weekend as they squared off against fellow Horizon League newcomer Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons.

The Colonials split the two-game set with a 102-88 victory in game one and an 87-82 loss on Sunday evening.

Game one was an offensive slugfest for RMU as five players surpassed double figures in points with senior forward AJ Bramah recording a career-high 28 points in the victory. The team also was able to knock down 13 threes in the win last Saturday.

Game two was a different story however as the team was sloppy on the offensive side of the ball, turning the rock over 14 times. This helped the Mastodons get out to a 24 point lead with 13:12 to go in the game before Robert Morris was able to claw their way back in the game to make the score more respectable.

Overall, the key for RMU moving forward is defense. For a team that year in and year out pride themselves defensively, Andy Toole can’t be happy with the current defensive output as they have allowed more than 80 points in their past four games.

Scouting the Panthers

The Panthers are off to a pretty good start as they have won three of their first four games, defeating Western Michigan (2-5, 1-1 MAC) and sweeping Green Bay (0-4, 0-8 Horizon) in their first Horizon League series of the season.

Their only defeat came against Kansas State (5-5, 1-1 Big 12) as they dropped a close one to the Wildcats by a score of 76-75.

Milwaukee is looking to continue their winning ways against Robert Morris after their last two games were canceled due to positive Coronavirus tests in the UIC program.

Players to Watch

AJ Bramah (RMU) – “The Bull” has averaged 21 points and 7 rebounds this season continuing to assert his dominance by notching 20 points or more in three of the past four games for the Colonials. Bramah continued to be a force down low as he logged a career-high 28 points in the win on Saturday while logging 23 in the loss on Sunday. The Panthers have to be cognizant when Bramah is on the floor as he looks to continue to wreak havoc on his opponents.

Jon Williams (RMU) – Maybe one of the more surprising players as of late has been the senior guard from Akron, Ohio. Jon looked like his brother Josh Williams in the series against the Mastodons as he was knocking down shots with ease. He logged 17 points in the win on Saturday and 16 in the loss on Sunday. Williams is averaging a career-high 11 points-per-game this season. He also leads the team with assists averaging just above five per game this season. It will be important for Williams to keep hitting his shots as they move into the series against the Panthers.

Te’Jon Lucas (MKE) – The Milwaukee Native is averaging 14 points-per-game so far on the young season logging a season-high 21 points on December 19 against Green Bay. It will be very important for Robert Morris to neutralize Lucas’ scoring abilities this weekend especially when they are struggling on the defensive side of the ball.

DeAndre Gholston (MKE) – Gholston ranks second on the team in points averaging 12 points per game. The guard also leads the team in rebounds averaging 6 boards per game. It will be important for the Colonials to watch Gholston closely all series long.

Prediction:

Even though the Colonials have had a rough start defensively, I believe that they will improve on that side of the ball this weekend against Milwaukee. If the Robert Morris offense can take care of the ball and continue putting up impressive numbers the Colonials should have no trouble taking care of the Panthers this weekend with RMU sweeping the series. Game one: 71-61, Game two: 80-65.