Expectations were certainly high when the Panthers took the court for the 2005-06 season, but thanks to a stellar group of seniors and strong leadership from new head coach Rob Jeter, Milwaukee again made noise on the national stage. The season actually saw Milwaukee drop two of its first three games, but the Panthers quickly recovered to win 11 of their next 12 outings. Included in the run was an impressive road sweep of Wyoming and Montana, as well as wins in the first five Horizon League games of the season.
The winning run ended with a loss on the road in Green Bay, but the Panthers bounced back to win their next four league games and stood 9-1 in league play heading into the month of February. Milwaukee stumbled in road losses to Wright State and Butler, but bounced back with easy wins over Youngstown State and at Cleveland State to move to the brink of its third-straight league regular season title. But, senior Adrian Tigert was injured late in the Cleveland State contest, and without Tigert the Panthers suffered a home loss to UIC. Milwaukee bounced back, though, to beat Detroit, which then knocked off Butler five days later, giving the Panthers the outright Horizon League title and hosting rights for the Horizon League Championship.
With Tigert back in the lineup, the Panthers made it look easy en route to their third tournament title in four years. Milwaukee bounced Loyola by 14 points and Butler by 16 to claim the crown and return to the NCAA Tournament. Milwaukee also again cleaned up when it came time to distribute Horizon League postseason awards. Joah Tucker and Boo Davis each earned all-league first-team honors while Tigert was named to the second team. It marked the first time in school history the Panthers saw three players named to the all-league teams. When the pairings for the NCAA Tournament were announced, it was clear respect had arrived for Milwaukee basketball. The Panthers earned a best-ever 11-seed and were sent to Jacksonville, Fla., for a matchup with Oklahoma of the Big 12.
After the successful run in the NCAA Tournament a year earlier, Milwaukee became a popular pick to again pull off a first-round upset. But, even with those expectations on their shoulders, the Panthers put together a great performance in knocking off Oklahoma. In fact, Milwaukee steadily built a lead in the second half and then consistently got to the free throw line down the stretch. The Panthers made 26-of-32 free throws and led by as many as 14 points in claiming an 82-74 win over the Sooners to advance to the second round. Davis led the way with 26 points while Tucker added 24. Up next for Milwaukee was Florida, which would be a daunting task on any floor in the country. But, with the game scheduled to be played in the state of Florida, the Panthers knew they were facing a road game on what would officially be considered a neutral court.
The Panthers hung in the contest early and were within eight points early in the second half. But the deep, athletic Gator squad proved too much for Milwaukee, as Florida pulled away for an 82-60 win. Tigert did post a career night in his final game in a Panther uniform, collecting 27 points to go with eight rebounds.
Just as was the case the year before, Milwaukee was eliminated by a team poised to make a deep run in the tournament. In fact, Florida never looked back after its win over Milwaukee, rolling through four more contests on its way to a national title. The tournament loss also brought to a close the career of seven Milwaukee seniors. Tucker, Davis and Tigert were joined in the 2005-06 senior class by Chris Hill, Jason McCoy, Mark Pancratz and Derrick Ford.
|Michael Bendall||Boo Davis||Derrick Ford||Nick Hansen||Allan Hanson||Chris Hill||Steve Hoelzel||Kevin Massiah|
|Jason McCoy||Myles McKay||Mark Pancratz||Avery Smith||Adrian Tigert||Joah Tucker||Derrick Wimmer||Tyrone Young|