The 3rd Man In

Over before it even started

When the Milwaukee Panthers needed to play their best basketball and get a victory, they could not handle the pressure and fell badly. The Panthers (13-9, 3-5) played sloppy and fell to Horizon League foe, Detroit, 73-54 to extend their losing streak.

Steve McWhorter and Jordan Aaron were the Panthers leading scorers with just nine points apiece, while Malcolm Moore had eight and Austin Arians added seven.

Moore scored all eight of his points in the first half going 3-3 from the field including 2-2 from three-point range in only eight minutes of play, but then he only played one minute in the second half.

When I asked head coach Rob Jeter after the game why Moore only saw one minute of action in the final 20 minutes of play after playing well in the first half, all he had to say was, “Yeah…playing well is all relative I guess. Physically he is fine.”

Whatever the issue is concerning Moore, the Panthers have bigger problems. They played with little energy and looked worn down the entire night.

“Man, mentally, right now, we’re just worn down,” said Jeter. “I think as a coach there’s things you can see coming and you try to help your team. We need some time to regroup.”

This lack of focus led to mistakes as Milwaukee committed 18 turnovers, while struggling to shoot the ball. As an offense they seemed to have no plan as they stopped sharing the ball, and were launching shots from all over the court.

“We’ve got to get our focus back,” point guard McWhorter said. “We’re on a three-game losing streak in conference. That’s not a good place to be. This is not acceptable. I’ve got to do a better job of leading the guys out there.”

Their defense was also spotty as they allowed the Titans to go on big runs, when they were in striking distance of tying the game up.

In the second half they were down 44-40, but then they let Detroit go on a 16-1 run to take a huge 60-41 lead.

Titans’ star, Juwan Howard Jr., rarely missed in the second half finishing the evening with 24 points while grabbing eight boards.

Milwaukee finished the game shooting only 31 percent (18-58) from the floor and 19 percent (4-21) from behind the three-point line. They also only shot 56 percent (14-25) from the charity strip.

“We’re better than that,” said Jeter. “They’re young men. There are tough lessons to be learned and these last three games we learned some really tough lessons.

“We’ll keep working with this group. I really enjoy this group. Now, I don’t enjoy losing, but we’ve got to figure out a way to get this group enjoying playing together again.”

The Panthers host Wright State Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Klotsche Center as they try to put an end to their losing ways.

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