Date/Time - Saturday, November 20, at 6 p.m. Central
Arena – Thomas & Mack Center (18,500)
Television - Versus (Ted Robinson and Kelly Stouffer)
Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Mike Heller, Andy North)
Series – UNLV Leads 3-1 (2-0 in Las Vegas)
Last Meeting - UNLV won, 74-68, on March 18, 2007 in Chicago
Wisconsin Probable Starters
11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 15.0 ppg)
21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 14.0 ppg)
24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 5.5 ppg)
30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 23.0 ppg)
52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 9.5 ppg)
Off the Bench
2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 1.5 ppg)
5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 6.5 ppg)
31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 8.5 ppg)
33 Rob Wilson (Junior Guard, 0.0 ppg)
40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 3.5 ppg)
UNLV Probable Starters
0 Oscar Bellifeld (Junior Guard, 12.0 ppg)
1 Quintrell Thomas (Sophomore Forward, 7.5 ppg)
3 Antony Marshall (Sophomore Guard, 15.0 ppg)
5 Derrick Jasper (Senior Guard, 6.5 ppg)
12 Brice Massamba (Junior Forward, 9.0 ppg)
22 Chase Stanback (Junior Guard, 13.5 ppg)
Off the Bench
11 Carlos Lopez (Freshman Forward, 6.0 ppg)
20 Karam Mashour (freshman Forward, 10.0 ppg)
31 Justin Hawkins (Sophomore Guard, 10.0 ppg)
33 Tre'Von Willis (Senior Guard, 0.0 ppg)
Last Time Out
There's nothing like riding a hot streak into Vegas.
Wisconsin shot 62 percent from the field for the game, assisted on 20 of 31 made field goals and easily did away with visiting North Dakota 85-53.
Senior forward Jon Leuer led the way for the Badgers, scoring 22 and adding six rebounds and seven assists. Frontcourt partner Keaton Nankivil added 17 points on seven of eight shooting and sophomore Ryan Evans led four other Badgers in double figures with 11 points.
Now, the Badgers can only hope their heater carries over to Sin City and their game against UNLV Saturday.
"You get on the road, you get to Vegas … now we'll see what we can take from these exhibition games and two non-conference games," UW head coach Bo Ryan said.
The Badgers could've faltered when Taylor went to the bench with two fouls with 8:37 left in the first half. With limited experience in the ranks of his guard depth, Ryan put the keys to the offense in the hands of freshman Josh Gasser and walk-on senior Wquinton Smith, and with great success.
Wisconsin scored six of the next eight points to push their lead from 11 to 15 points and later finished the half on a 9-2 run. Wisconsin's lead was never less than 13 points for the final 23 minutes of the game.
Unlike the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin paid for its beleaguered first 20 minutes, unable to survive another average performance and bowed out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a humbling 74-68 defeat at the United Center in Chicago.
It was evident early on that Wisconsin (30-6) didn't learn from its mistakes, allowing UNLV (30-6) to jump out to an 11-4 advantage in route to a 39-27 halftime lead. While the Rebels shot lights out - 46.7 percent - in the first half, the Badgers were once again hindered by their lack of offense and rebounding. The Badgers managed only one offensive rebound and shot only 2-for-10 from distance, while UNLV made six threes and grabbed five offensive boards.
Additionally for the second straight game, Kammron Taylor was not a factor in the first half, shooting 1-for-5 and committing three turnovers running the point position. Right on cue, however, the Badgers mounted their comeback. Using an 8-2 run to open the half and a 16-2 run minutes later, Wisconsin found its shooting touch - shooting 10-for-19 from the floor to begin the half - to take its first lead since the opening bucket.
Wisconsin couldn't maintain its lead after coming back from a huge deficit and couldn't stop the coach's son, Kevin Kruger, who finally found his shooting touch. After going 0-for-8 in the first round and 1-for-5 in the first half against UW, Kruger nailed three big three-point buckets, igniting an 11-1 run that stunned the Badgers.
"We had some momentum and we let it get away from us," head coach Bo Ryan said. "They hit some tough shots and Kevin hits his first wide-open shot in the second half. Kevin was the difference maker in that stretch … and was the nail in the coffin."
Once UNLV got the lead, the Rebel defense never let up, as they honed in on Alando Tucker, who had proven of late to be the Badgers only consistent scoring option. With the Badgers trailing by seven and only four minutes left, the Rebels, like a Vegas magic act, made Tucker disappear, consistently running two or three fresh players at the All-American every time he touched the ball.
The plan worked, as Tucker could only attempt two shots in the final 5:57 minutes and didn't score any of his 17 points in crunch time. Without Tucker's offense, the Badgers scored only one point in four possessions, which made it easier for the Rebels to extend their lead.
"It was tough all game," Tucker said. "They were hard-nosed on the ball."
Wisconsin played at UNLV in Bo Ryan's first game as head coach of the Badgers, with UNLV claiming a 74-69 win on Nov. 17, 2001. The two teams played in Madison on Dec. 7, 2002, with UW posting a 91-74 win.
The Badgers are 7-5 all-time vs. teams in the Mountain West Conference (2-0 vs. Air Force and New Mexico, 1-0 vs. BYU, 1-1 vs. Utah, 1-3 vs. UNLV and 0-1 vs. Wyoming).
UNLV head coach Lon Kruger is 5-4 against Wisconsin, including a 4-4 mark as the head coach at Illinois (1997-2000).
The Runnin' Rebels have five players averaging in double figures in scoring and four more averaging at least 6.0 ppg. As a team, UNLV is averaging 88.5 ppg so far
The Runnin' Rebels have been picked to finish fourth in this year's Mountain West Conference race by the media, returning all five starters and five other letterwinners from last season's team that finished the season with an overall record of 25-9, tied for third in the MWC with an 11-5 mark and played in its third NCAA Tournament in the last four years last season, losing in the first round to Northern Iowa (69-66)
The Runnin' Rebels lost four letterwinners off last season's team – seniors Steve Jones and Darris Santee, junior Matt Shaw and junior Kendall Wallace (Wallace had knee surgery this offseason and will return as a senior in 2011-12)
The Runnin' Rebels return 73.9 percent of their scoring and 72.5 percent of their rebounding from last season
Wisconsin is 102-33 (.756) in regular-season non-conference games under Ryan, including 69-5 (.932) at the Kohl Center.
Under Ryan, Wisconsin is 35-10 (.778) in the month of November and 21-4 (.840) over last four seasons.
Through two games, Wisconsin is connecting on a Big Ten-best 55.1 percent of its shots, making 65 of 118 shots. UW is also tied for second in the Big Ten, converting 42.9 percent (18-of-42) of its 3-point shots on the season. The Badgers lead the Big Ten, making 83.7 percent (36-of-43) of their free throws.
The Badgers had three players ?nish with at least 20 points vs. Prairie View A&M (Leuer 24, Gasser 21, Taylor 20). The last time Wisconsin had three different individuals reach 20 points in a single game was Dec. 5, 1995, when Darnell Hoskins (22), Sean Daugherty (21) and Sam Okey (20) did it in a 94-91 win over Wright State.
The Badgers have been dominating the paint this season, owning a 76-to-38 scoring advantage through two games.
With the graduation of Trevon Hughes, junior Jordan Taylor has taken sole possession of Wisconsin's point guard reins. The pressure has yet to get to him. Taylor is averaging 15.0 points per game and dishing out 5.0 assists per game. He has posted a +3.33 assist-to-turnover ratio and is also averaging 1.5 steals per game. All of those figures rank among the Big Ten's top 15. Of course, the level of competition hasn't been up to the level he will see on Saturday.
Ball control and smart decisions will be key for the Badgers against an UNLV team that returns its leading players in each major statistical category: Willis in scoring (17.2 ppg), Stanback in rebounding (5.8 rpg), steals (1.6 spg) and blocks (0.8 bpg), and Bellfield in assists (4.8). The last games, the Badgers have been sloppy with the ball early in games and can't afford to dig a hole, especially on the road against a decent ball club.
The last two games have shown me some optimism for how good this 2010-11 basketball season can be. However, I've felt UW would fall short in this game ever since it scheduled it. The Rebels have won their first two games by an average of 40 points, so they can match Wisconsin's recent offensive outbursts. I don't think UNLV can match up with UW inside, but I think the Rebels guard play is too talented. I like the Rebels to hand UW its first loss of the season by 9.
Worgull's Record: 2-0
Points off Prediction: 18 (9 per game)