Preview: Wofford vs. No.14 Wisconsin

Although No.14 Wisconsin heads into its first busy stretch of the season, playing four games in four days in the Chicago Invitational Challenge, the Badgers get the benefit of opening the tournament in their great home court advantage by taking on Wofford Saturday night.

Wofford (1-1, 0-0 SoCon Conference) vs. No.14 Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, November 19, 7 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,232)

Television - ESPN3 (Cory Provus and Dave Kaplan)

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

Series – Wisconsin Leads 2-0 (1-0 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 53-49, on March 19, 2010, in Jacksonville, Florida

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (Junior Forward, 10.0 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Senior Guard, 10.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Sophomore Guard, 9.5 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Junior Forward, 7.5 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Junior Forward, 10.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (Sophomore Guard, 15.5 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (Freshman Guard, 3.0 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Senior Guard, 4.5 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (Freshman Forward, 4.0 ppg)

Wofford Probable Starters

5 Jarell Byrd (Freshman Forward, 4.0 ppg)

10 Kevin Giltner (Senior Guard, 10.5 ppg)

21 Drew Crowell (Senior Forward, 10.0 ppg)

35 Brad Loesing (Senior Guard, 11.0 ppg)

53 Domas Rinksalis (Sophomore Forward, 5.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Karl Cochran (Freshman Guard, 11.5 ppg)

34 Lee Skinner (Freshman Forward , 7.5 ppg)

Last Time Out

After No.14 Wisconsin flattened its second straight nonconference opponent, the second being a 68-41 thrashing over Colgate Wednesday at the Kohl Center, the Badgers have outscored the competition 153-72 and have trailed a grand total of 13 seconds.

But while fans may not have learned much other than Wisconsin can beat up on the undermanned, less talented programs that are willing to take a paycheck to get a Kohl Center beating (the Badgers have now won 21 straight at home and are 154-11 (.933) at home under coach Bo Ryan), the Badgers are learning plenty about the makeup of what they hope is a championship caliber team.

"We know that we have got some different pieces than last year, especially with Ben Brust shooting the ball from outside," senior Jordan Taylor said. "I don't know if we really had that last year and Jared Berggren playing with his back to the basket the way he can down there.

"Defensively, it's a work in progress, trying to improve on things and trying to stay locked in on defense."

The learning lessons were on display in full force thanks to Brust leading the Badgers (2-0) in scoring for the second straight game and igniting things from the opening tip. After opening the last game on a 41-8 run, the Badgers opened by hitting 9 of their first 15 shots, four from three, to take all the suspense out early with a 24-6 run.

Four of Brust's six first-half attempts were made three-pointers and two of his steals lead him to two more scoring opportunities, facilitating both ends of production himself. In all, Wisconsin made 10 of 23 3-pointers (43.5 percent) and has made 25 in the first two games of the season.

Colgate (1-1) never got closer than 12 after the opening run based on the fact that the Badgers' defense has been stingy, having allowed only 28 combined first-half points.

One thing that has been realized is that Wisconsin might have the deepest backcourt in the country. Not only do the Badgers have the benefit of an All-American in Taylor and more experience in sophomore Josh Gasser, but the feverish production from Brust has been brought on by his confidence.

Previously admitting in hindsight that he probably could have redshirted after appearing in just 15 games as a true freshman, Brust is making up for lost time, setting career highs in points in back-to-back games.

"I definitely got it going in the first half of both games so far," said Brust, who has gone 4-for-8 from three-point range in each of the first two games this year and is averaging 15.5 points per game. "I might need to change up what I am doing in the second half. It's been nice to get out there and get comfortable with the guys."

Last Meeting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Wisconsin Badgers took the Terriers best shot, but survived as they downed Wofford, 53-49, in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Jon Leuer came up clutch in the second half, and the junior forward led the Badgers with 20 points, including the final four points of the game in the final 17 seconds.

Despite sloppy play on offense, the Badgers turned up the defensive intensity in the first half. Wisconsin (24-8) held the Southern Conference champion Wofford Terriers to just 28 percent shooting from the field while holding them to just one point during a seven and a half minute stretch to seize early control of the game.

"We knew what they (Wofford) were going to try to do and they did it for the most part," said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, who won his 600th career game as a head coach.

Despite having an enormous height advantage inside, Wisconsin couldn't capitalize, as they missed several easy layups en route to just a 34.5 percent shooting performance in the first half as they missed 29 of its 39 field goal attempts. The only Badger that was effective in the first half was guard Trevon Hughes, who connected on four of his six shots to lead Wisconsin with 14 points at the break.

"I was able to get in the paint a lot more in the first half," Hughes said.

Wofford (26-9), the third-smallest school in Division I with just 1,450 students, would not go down quietly as they came out of the locker room with a vengeance. The Terriers went on a 10-2 run and were able to pull even at 33 with a Jamar Diggs jumper.

Wofford did the unthinkable as they took a 36-35 lead with just under 15 minutes remaining when guard Junior Salters connected on an uncontested three which energized the partisan crowd of nearly 8,000.

"They were finally able to hit some outside shots in the second half and it was going to be a toe-to-toe, possession game," Ryan said.

The two teams traded buckets for much of the second half and as the game remained close, one could feel the confidence in the team from the small school building.

"It became a possession by possession game, and their guys are pretty used to that," Ryan said.

With just over two minutes remaining and Wofford holding a 48-47 lead, point guard Cameron Rundles went to the free throw line with a one-and-one. Rundles missed the shot and Hughes made him pay on the other end, as he grabbed a loose ball and scored to give Wisconsin a 49-48 advantage. After a Tim Johnson free throw that tied the game, the Badgers used an offensive rebound to set up one final possession.

"I looked to get in the paint and draw some guys over to me," Hughes, who finished with 19 points said of the Badgers final field goal.

Hughes indeed drove and found Leuer open in the corner and he connected on an 18-foot jumper to put the Badgers up 51-49.

"I kind of found a soft spot and Trevon made a great play and found me," Leuer said.

With one final chance, Wofford guard Cameron Rundles drove left but lost the ball out of bounds with 4.9 seconds remaining. Leuer connected on a pair of free throws to put the game on ice for the Badgers. Wofford shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent (3-7) from three. From the free throw line, the Terriers were 46.2 percent. Wisconsin was 37.0 percent overall and 11.1 percent from behind the arc. The Badgers were 63.2 percent from the line. Wofford had a 37-30 lead on the boards, but committed eleven turnovers to only four for Wisconsin.

Series Notes

Wofford and Wisconsin have met twice, with the Badgers winning both games. In 2007, Wisconsin won 70-43 at the Kohl Center. In 2010, the teams faced each other in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

when Wisconsin narrowly escaped with a 53-49 win. Jordan Taylor played all 40 minutes of that game, posting 9 points and 3 rebounds. Ryan Evans added 3 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while Mike Bruesewitz grabbed 3 rebounds in 8 minutes.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin has gone 25-for-48 (52.1 percent) from 3-point range through two games. Those 25 triples are the most 3-pointers through the first two games of the season in Badgers history.

Berggren started his second career game in the season opener vs. Kennesaw State. He responded with 11 points and 3 rebounds, scoring in double figures for just the second time in his career. He followed that up with a career-high 7 rebounds and 9 points vs. Colgate.

Evans earned his first career start last Saturday vs. Kennesaw State and chipped in a career-high 13 points, including a career high 5-for-6 performance at the free throw line. Evans' 13 points marked the ninth time he has posted a double-digit point total. The redshirt junior is tied with Mike Bruesewitz for the team-lead with 12 total rebounds. Evans has also pilfered 5 steals in two games, which places him 4th in the Big Ten with 2.5 per game.

As a freshman last season, Ben Brust scored a total of 10 points. In the 2011-12 opener, Brust topped that by halftime, finishing with 14 points. Brust leads the Badgers and ranks 9th in the Big Ten averaging 15.5 points per game.

Wofford Notes

In 2011-12, Wofford will look to rebuild after the loss of four starters from the 2010-11 team that won the Southern Conference Championship and reached the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. The Terriers will be led by five seniors this season.

In the SoCon Media Association Poll, the Terriers were picked third in the South Division.

Since joining the Southern Conference for the 1997-98 season, Wofford had never had a winning record in the conference until the 2008-09 season. The 12-8 record that season marked the fifth time with at least eight SoCon wins in school history. With a 15-3 mark in 2009-10, Wofford had just the second winning SoCon mark in school history. The Terriers posted their third-straight winning record in conference play with a 14-4 record in 2010-11.


The Badgers are off to a suffocating start this season, limiting foes to a nation's best 36.0 points per game. Wisconsin's opponents are shooting just 29.2 percent, which leads the Big Ten and ranks 11th in the nation. After two cupcakes, the Badgers finally get to play a team that made the NCAA Tournament last year.

Wofford shot 34.6 percent from the floor in its season opening loss to Georgia, including shooting 7-of-23 from behind the arc. The Terriers have experience and some size inside that will challenge Wisconsin's bigs for the first time this season. It won't be quite the challenge Wofford gave UW two years ago, but Wisconsin should use its home court advantage to its benefit with a 16-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 2-0

Points off Prediction: 22 (11.0 per game)

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