Preview: No.12 Minnesota at Wisconsin

After back-to-back losses have dragged them back to the pack in the Big Ten, Wisconsin looks to get back on the winning track against No.12 Minnesota; a program trying to end a three game losing streak of its own.

No.12 Minnesota (15-4, 3-3 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin (13-5, 4-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, January 26, 1 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,249)

Television - Big Ten Network (Dave Revsine and Shon Morris)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Minnesota leads 100-91 (Wisconsin leads 59-33 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 52-45, on February 28, 2012 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 10.6 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.9 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 5.6 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 7.5 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 12.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 5.6 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 9.2 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.4 ppg)

Minnesota Probable Starters

1 Andre Hollins (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 13.8 ppg)

11 Joe Coleman (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 10.5 ppg)

20 Austin Hollins (6-4 Junior Guard, 11.2 ppg)

32 Trevor Mbakwe (6-8 Senior Forward, 9.9 ppg)

33 Rodney Williams (6-7 Senior Forward, 12.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Julian Welch (6-3 Senior Guard, 3.7 ppg)

3 Wally Ellenson (6-4 Freshman Guard, 2.5 ppg)

10 Oto Osenieks (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.5 ppg)

13 Maverick Ahanmisi (6-2 Junior Guard, 3.9 ppg)

15 Maurice Walker (6-10 Sophomore Guard, 2.9 ppg)

Last Time Out

MADISON (BadgerNation) - The Badgers made one field goal in the final 7:37 and were anti-clutch from the free-throw line, costing them dearly in a 49-47 defeat to No.13 Michigan State Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

The final defensive numbers would suggest Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2 Big Ten) redeemed itself after allowing Iowa to be first opponent in 11 games to score over 60 points. Michigan State (17-3, 6-1) came in shooting 46.8 percent and averaging 70.3 points per game and was held to 38.3 percent shooting and a season-low 49 points.

But the Spartans won for the second straight time at the Kohl Center, and fourth time overall in the series, because the Badgers couldn't make a shot consistently from anywhere.

Failing to move back into first place in the Big Ten with a victory, Wisconsin finished 29.6 percent from 2-point range (8-for-27) and 3-point range (8-for-27).

"We might have settled for too many outside looks," said Berggren, who finished with 9 points on 3-for-10 shooting. "I think there were more opportunities for a shot fake, a drive, get the ball inside a little more … The looks were there."

Ryan Evans (2 of 12) and Traevon Jackson (2 of 9) combined to make only 4 of 21 field-goal attempts. They took 38.9 percent of UW's total shots (21 of 54). Neither was available to the media.

But what really cost Wisconsin was at the free throw line, a place that has been horrific for Wisconsin all season. Entering the game last in the conference in free throw percentage, the Badgers embarrassed themselves with an ugly 38.9 percent (7-for-18) from the line, including 5-for-13 in the second half and missing their last five with the lead still well within reach.

The misses were contagious from the team's worst free throw shooter - Ryan Evans – going 1-for-2 to one of its best – 75.9 percent shooter Berggren – missing 6 of 8, including the front end of a bonus situation with the Badgers down three with 5:23 remaining.

Arguably the most painful misses came in the final seconds. After Evans hit a three-pointer, only his second in 20 attempts this season, freshman George Marshall was fouled on a drive to the lane with three seconds left. Having a chance to tie, Marshall missed the first and didn't draw iron when he intentionally missed the second, giving the ball to Michigan State out of bounds.

The Spartans dribbled out the clock from there, making them just the third team (Ohio State 2007, Penn State 2011) to beat Wisconsin scoring fewer than 50 points.

Last Meeting

MADISON (BadgerNation) - Jordan Taylor scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half to push them past Minnesota, 52-45, in front of 17,230 restless, sometimes irritable, crowd at the Kohl Center.

The win clinches Wisconsin (22-8, 11-6 Big Ten) a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament for the 12th straight year and 11th time under Bo Ryan, who moved one win shy of Bud Foster's school record 265 victories. This one, however, was devoid of style points.

The two teams combined for nine first-half field goals and each had a scoring drought of at least 14 minutes throughout, but the Badgers always appeared a step behind until junior Mike Bruesewitz was awarded for his aggressiveness.

Down 25-22 with 16:04 to go, Bruesewitz drove the lane, made a rare layup and drew a whistle, thinking he was getting a 3-point opportunity with Andre Hollins having his foot inside the circle.

Official Ed Hightower, who had given UW coach Bo Ryan a technical and multiple bench warnings in the first half, saw the opposite, ruled it a charge and prepared to give the ball back to the Gophers.

"I thought I got there and he was inside the circle; that's kind of why I went up" said Bruesewitz (3 points). "Coach Ryan always tells us to attack if a guy is in the circle … That would have been my third foul and I would have been sitting on the bench."

Following an officials' huddle, the call was reverse, sending Minnesota coach Tubby Smith flaying down his bench in disgust and UW off and running – as the Badgers scored 16 of the next 23 points to take command and shoot 44 percent in the second half. "That (play) was huge," said Hollins, who led the Gophers (17-13, 5-12) with 19 points, but shot 3-for-12 from the floor. "I can't wait to see a tape because I'm pretty sure I was outside the charge lane. They overturned it, but it didn't go our way. I don't know. It was frustrating."

His head coach wasn't as diplomatic when asked if he received an explanation from the officiating crew.

"You don't get one," said Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. "You're gonna huddle like that and change the call? Are you kidding me? It's a joke. It really is."

Just like he did earlier this season at Minnesota, Taylor found his footing. In his final regular season matchup against his home state school, Taylor caught fire after Bruesewitz 3-point play, scoring eight of his points during the commanding stretch.

The biggest shot coming on a four-point possession for Wisconsin, as Taylor drilled a 3-pointer after Rob Wilson missed the second of two free throws to put Wisconsin up 41-32 with 7:36 remaining.

"You just have to try to find ways to try to score," said Taylor, who passed Devin Harris for ninth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,438 points. "We did a pretty good jobs at times when we get a little stagnate and other guys pitch in. That makes it a lot easier when you are a guard."

The 3-point shot saved Wisconsin, as the Badgers were outscored 14-4 in the paint and 12-3 on second chance points but outscore Minnesota by 12 from 3-point range. Wisconsin also went 16 of 20 from the free throw line in the second half compared to just 10 of 16 for Minnesota with Ryan Evans (12 points, 8 rebounds) making all of his free throws.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin and Minnesota will be playing for the 192nd time Saturday afternoon, making the Gophers the most played opponent in UW history.

Bo Ryan owns a 15-4 (.789) record against Minnesota with an 8-1 mark at the Kohl Center. Tubby Smith owns a 3-5 (.375) record against Ryan's teams, including a mark of 1-3 in Madison.

The Badgers have won 16 of the last 20, including three straight. Last season, UW swept the season series from the Gophers. Minnesota's last win over Wisconsin came nearly two years ago in a 68-52 victory at Williams Arena on Feb. 18, 2010.

Wisconsin has won 14 of the last 15 games against Minnesota in Madison. In fact, the Gophers are a mere 1-11 overall at the Kohl Center, pulling out a 78-74 overtime win in 2009. Prior to that, Minnesota's last win in Madison came in 1994.

Ryan Evans averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in two match-ups with the Gophers last season, including his first-career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Feb. 9 meeting.

The Badgers' roster has 3 players from the state of Minnesota: Jared Berggren (Princeton), Mike Bruesewitz (St. Paul) and Jordan Smith (Orono).

Wisconsin Notes

A year after leading the nation in scoring defense at 53.2 ppg, Wisconsin is allowing just 55.4 points per game. That figure leads the Big Ten in scoring defense and ranks 8th in the nation. The Badgers are currently riding a streak of 19 consecutive games in which they've held their opponents to 60 or fewer points at the Kohl Center.

In Ryan's 12 seasons as Wisconsin's head coach, the Badgers have compiled the 4th-best home winning percentage in the nation, going 176-17 (.912) at the Kohl Center, including a mark of 86-10 (.896) vs. the Big Ten.

The Badgers have been 4-2 or better after 6 conference games in 10 out of Bo Ryan's 12 seasons at Wisconsin.

Redshirt freshman George Marshall ranks 4th in the conference, shooting 43.3 percent from long range (26-60), while redshirt freshman Sam Dekker ranks 5th in the Big Ten connecting on 42.4 percent (28-66). Junior Ben Brust is just outside the Big Ten's top- 15, shooting 38.4% (38-99) from deep.

Berggren is just the third player in UW history to record 60 blocks in a season. His swat total last season was the most by a UW player since Rashard Griffi th, who had 66 in 1993-94.

Minnesota Notes:

Andre & Austin Hollins are a lethal combination from behind the arc for the Gophers. Austin is 15-of-26 (.577) from three-point land in his last five games and 17-of-31 (.548) overall in Big Ten play, second in the conference. Dre Hollins is 15-of-33 (.455) in Big Ten play - ninth - and is on a current 68-135 stretch (.504) since beginning the season 14-of-48.

The Gophers head into the matchup against Wisconsin as the top team in the B1G Conference in blocked shots (123- 6.5 bpg) and steals (177 - 9.3 spg). Minnesota has led the conference in blocks the last four seasons, including four of the top five season block totals in the history of the Gopher program.

The Gophers are averaging 40.4 rebounds per game this season, the highest rebounding average in the Tubby Smith era. Minnesota is outrebounding its opponents by 10.0 rpg this season, the highest disparity in the Tubby Smith era.

The Gophers lead the conference in offensive rebounds per game (16.2) and offensive rebound percentage (.480).

Minnesota currently has nine players that are averaging at least 9.0 minutes played per game, led by Austin Hollins, who is averaging 28.8 minutes per game. Four of the Gophers' starting five of, Hollins (28.8), Williams (28.6 mpg), Andre Hollins (28.0 mpg) and Joe Coleman (27.8 mpg) are averaging at least 27.0 mpg.

The Gophers are averaging 16.2 assists per game, tops in the B1G Conference.


If Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had a fix-it list stemming from the Badgers' dismal offensive performance Tuesday in its loss to Michigan State, the learning lessons needed to be given freshman forward Sam Dekker wouldn't be in the top five … but they certainly were on the list.

Dekker played only 13 minutes against the Spartans – the lowest of his young collegiate career – and scored only three points because of two ‘bad' fouls he committed in the first half.

It was unfortunate considering the Badgers needed Dekker's presence with Michigan State possessing tremendous length inside and UW being sufficiently low on bodies with Frank Kaminsky missing his second straight game with an eye injury.

"He saw it on the clips, reaching down on a guy going up with the ball that tends to get you a foul," said Ryan. "One-on-five tends to not help the cause and he really wasn't going to get anywhere with that dribble, so he charges. Those are two things that will get corrected."

They will need to be corrected in a hurry because Kaminsky is out for another game and the Badgers will be facing three players that have double-digit career point averages against them - Andre Hollins (19.0 ppg - 2 games), Trevor Mbakwe (11.0 ppg – one game) and Rodney Williams (11.0 ppg - 3 games).

Mbakwe also contributed 11 rebounds in his only matchup against the Badgers, which is fitting considering the sixth-year forward is the conference's best rebounder. Averaging a double-double of 11.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game over the Gophers' last 10 games, Mbakwe sits atop the Big Ten Conference in rebounding with an overall average of 8.6 rpg.

"He's so lively on the glass (and) defensively he's so long," said Ryan of Mbakwe, who also elads the team with 1.7 blocks per game. "Offensive rebounds he gets five a game. He's a beast, and I know that term gets used a lot nowadays. He covers a lot of space. Really tough to score on, really tough to move inside and he brings a lot of energy to them."

Despite it being just over a year since major knee surgery (Dec. 30, 2011), Mbakwe has given head coach Tubby Smith and his teammates quality minutes through 19 games this season, starting the last seven and averaging 22.3 minutes per game this season.

Ryan downplayed putting two men on the super senior since it would leave a defender unguarded going to the glass, but emphasized the importance of positioning to limit Mbakwe's ability to get to the rim. It won't be anything new for Wisconsin, seeing as the badgers just got done playing a physical rebounding team in Michigan State and tied the rebounding battle.

Also on Ryan's "to-do" list is get Traevon Jackson pointed back in the right direction. After scoring a career-high 14 points against Illinois and adding 11 points against Indiana, Jackson is has missed 16 of his last 19 shots.

Of the players who have attempted at least five shots, Jackson has the team's worst shooting percentage (33.3 percent) and second worst from 3-point range (23.1 percent). Despite having the fifth-most minute average (23.8), Jackson has the second most fouls on the team, including four against Michigan State that gave Jackson a look of bewilderment each team the official blew his whistle.

According to Ryan, he didn't have any argument with the fouls called on Jackson against Michigan State, which mostly occurred with the sophomore having bad positioning fighting through screens guarding Keith Appling.

"Trae is still pretty raw on some things," said Ryan. "He's got to learn."

More importantly, Wisconsin has got to learn how to shoot free throws. Wisconsin's 61.1 percent mark from the charity stripe overall and 52 percent clip in conference play represents the worst in the Big Ten. Of UW's eight regular rotational players, all but one has seen their free throw percentage go down during league play (Sam Dekker has improved because he's gone 1-for-1 from the line).

Wisconsin is so jekell and hyde this season it's hard to pinpoint which team is going to show up (as you can tell by my season record). I'm going to go to guess that Wisconsin doesn't lose two in a row at home, as Minnesota seems in worse shape than UW. UW squeaks out a six-point win.

Worgull's Record: 12-7

Points off Prediction: 215 (11.32 per game)

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