Preview: N.C. State vs. Wisconsin

After leaving Orlando with a bitter taste, Wisconsin returns home for the first time in two weeks, looking to win a third straight game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge when North Carolina State comes to town Wednesday.

North Carolina State (4-1, 0-0 ACC) vs. Wisconsin (4-2, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Tuesday, December 1, at 6:15 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - ESPN2 (Dave Pasch & Dan Dakich)

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

Series – UW Leads 1-0

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 65-56, on March 25, 2005 in Syracuse, N.Y. (Sweet 16 – NCAA Tournament)

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 13.3 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 9.2 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 18.2 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 4.8 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 7.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 5.3 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.8 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Junior Guard, 2.5 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 3.2 ppg)

N.C. State Probable Starters

0 DeShawn Painter (Sophomore Center, 7.6 ppg)

2 Lorenzo Brown (Freshman Guard , 12.6 ppg)

5 C.J. Leslie (Freshman Forward ,10.0 ppg)

10 Javier Gonzalez (Senior Guard,6.0 ppg)

15 Scott Wood (Sophomore Forward, 11.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Richard Howell (Sophomore Forward, 9.6 ppg)

12 Ryan Harrow (Freshman Guard, 10.8 ppg)

21 C.J. Williams (Junior Guard, 5.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

Notre Dame scored 15 straight points in the final four minutes to pull away, overcoming an 11-point second-half deficit to go home with a 58-51 victory over Wisconsin on Sunday night to claim the Old Spice Classic championship.

Ben Hansbrough stripped Jordan Taylor and converted a 3-point play on the other end over Taylor with 19 seconds remaining to highlight Notre Dame's run. The Irish shot free throws the rest of the way, finishing 20 for 25 from the stripe to beat a pesky Wisconsin team.

Jon Leuer had 19 points and Taylor had 14 points for the Badgers (4-2) before fouling out on Hansbrough's layup.

''They had some guys that made timely baskets and timely free throws, and that's how you win those kind of grinders,'' Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. ''And both our teams will be in more of them before the season's out.''

Wisconsin's frontline bullied and bruised an undersized Irish team early. The Badgers went ahead by eight points in the first half, building enough cushion to overcome some shooting lapses. At least for a while.

Notre Dame began sitting in its zone defense and keeping Wisconsin on the perimeter. The move paid off, and the Irish scored the last 11 points of the half to take a 22-19 lead at the break.

Leuer, Taylor and Tim Jarmusz hit consecutive 3-pointers to highlight a 9-0 Wisconsin spurt in the second half to eventually go ahead by 11 points. The last came from Taylor, who waived his hands to the Badgers' faithful and chest bumped several teammates all the way to the bench during a timeout. The celebration was premature.

''We just made too many mistakes down the stretch, and they made a lot of hustle plays,'' Leuer said.

Last Meeting

Wisconsin waited for their shots to start falling, waited for something to work on defense. And after playing what might be their worst half of basketball all season, they couldn't wait any more.

Even before coach Bo Ryan entered the locker room for some halftime adjustments -- or maybe just a chewing out -- the players discussed their problems among themselves. Then Wisconsin scored 26 of the first 33 points in the second to beat North Carolina State 65-56 and earn a berth in the Syracuse Regional finals of the NCAA Tournament against North Carolina.

"At halftime, guys got after each other a little bit. Guys knew what they had to do," said guard Sharif Chambliss, who had one point in the first. "The first half was probably one of our worst halves all year. The second half, we knew what we had to do."

Alando Tucker scored 22 points, getting eight in a row during a 13-0 second-half run that turned a 37-34 deficit into a 10-point lead. Mike Wilkinson scored 17, the final two on a breakaway dunk with 20 seconds left that prompted the rest of the Badgers to leap for joy on the court.

"There wasn't much that had to be said. We knew we were a better team than them," forward Zach Morley said. "We finally realized what we had to do to be successful. We just slowed down and worked the ball inside and got some good shots."

Engin Atsur scored 16 and Julius Hodge had 14 on 4-for-16 shooting for NC State (21-14). The Wolfpack shot 45 percent in the first half to 32 percent in the second, making their first six 3-pointers before hitting just three of the next 16 attempts.

"It was a tale of two halves," NC State coach Herb Sendek said. "We were much better in the first than in the second."

But the difference was even more drastic for Wisconsin.

The Badgers went from shooting 39 percent in the first to 58 percent in the second. They missed all three 3-pointers in the first and hit 4-of-7 in the second. And they had 11 turnovers in the first, with zero assists; they had seven and seven in the second.

Ryan said he'd never seen anything like it.

"Not even in my first year coaching junior high school when I got out of the army -- and that was a struggle," he said. "We hung around. We just hung around. Fortunately, halftime came and we regrouped. I'm extremely proud of our guys that they didn't cave in."

Ryan improved to 7-0 against lower seeds in the NCAA Tournament. The 10th-seeded Wolfpack had been the lowest remaining seed.

Tucker scored eight of just 21 Wisconsin points in the first half as the Badgers fell behind by 10 before Chambliss made one of two free throws with 0.7 seconds left. Those were the first points by a Badgers guard in the game.

It all changed quickly in the second.

Clayton Hanson opened with a 3-pointer and then, after Atsur's layup, Chambliss made a 3. Tucker hit a driving layup to make it 32-29 with 16:46 to play; Hodge scored for NC State before Hanson made a 3 and Wilkinson banked one in to tie it 34-all with 14:51 left.

The Wolfpack led 37-34 when Tucker made another layup. Then Chambliss hit a 3 from the top of the key to give the Badgers the lead for good, and Tucker scored the next eight points to make it 47-37 with 8:41 left. NC State came within five points, 59-54, with the ball, but couldn't get closer.

Series Notes:

The Wolfpack is 5-5 in the challenge since 1999-2000. The Wolfpack has won four of their five home games in the challenge, and has gone 1-4 on the road, winning at No.19 Purdue in 1999-2000. N.C. State has faced a ranked Big Ten opponent three times, all on the road.

Wisconsin owns a 19-11 record overall vs. teams in the ACC.

N.C. State Notes:

The Wolfpack has allowed just 62.5 points per game in the challenge. Dating back to last season, only two of the last 18 opponents have scored over 70 points against the Wolfpack.

N.C. State will be without Tracy Smith, its top returning scorer and rebounding until mid-December after going arthroscopic knee surgery Nov.19. Painter has filled in and averaged 9.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in 23.8 minutes.

The three nationally-ranked freshmen (Brown, Harrow and Leslie) had the fifth-ranked recruiting class on Scout.com and the three players have combined to score 42.9 percent of the team's total points and are three of the Wolfpack's top four scorers this season, all averaging double figures.

N.C. State is ranked third in the ACC in turnover margin (plus-4). N.C. State's average of 11.8 turnovers a game is second in the ACC, as N.C. State had had 11 or fewer turnovers in three of the first five games.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin's defense is allowing opponents an average of just 54.0 point s per game. The Badgers ranked among the nation's top 10 in scoring defense in six of the last eight seasons.

Wisconsin is 104-35 (.748) in regular-season non-conference games under Bo Ryan, including 69-5 (.932) at the Kohl Center.

Leuer earned all-tournament honors after leading UW in scoring in all three games. Leuer averaged 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 blockers per game. UW averaged just five turnovers per game, allowed a mere 49.3 points per game, shot 34.4 percent from the field and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of plus-2.53.

Dating back to last season, Wisconsin is 26-1 when leading or tied with four minutes remaining in regulation, including a 4-1 mark this season.

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in fewest turnovers per game, turning the ball over just 9.2 times per game. Last season, UW led the nation, turning the ball over an average of just 8.8 times per game.

The Badgers are averaging 12.8 offensive rebounds per game.

Prediction

Maybe the Badgers should defect to the ACC for this season. With a stacked Big Ten Conference and a weak ACC, the Badgers, who have won their last five games against teams in the ACC, might have a 26, 27-win season. If Wisconsin doesn't get going in the first half, the Badgers could have a NIT season in the Big Ten.

OK, maybe that's a little drastic, but the Badgers are shooting only 36.9 percent and just 18.2 percent from three-point range. By contrast, the Badgers are connecting on 51.8 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three-point range in the second half. If Wisconsin is going to be successful, the Badgers need to find their consistency and get the ball into their senior post players. Zone or no zone, shooting only four free throws in a game is a ridiculous and doesn't equal a winning recipe for the Badgers' style.

If Wisconsin wins tonight and the Spartans lose to Duke, it will have six wins in the challenge, more than any other conference school. With all these schools switching conferences, maybe the ACC wouldn't be so bad? The Badgers' experience will prevail over the talented youth of the Wolfpack, leading the Badgers to an 11-point victory and, more importantly, a victory for the conference in the second straight year.

Worgull's Record: 6-0

Points off Prediction: 28 (5.6 per game)


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