Preview: No.14 Wisconsin vs. Milwaukee

Following an impressive 11-point win over one-loss UNLV, No.14 Wisconsin looks for its first true road win over Milwaukee Tuesday night.

No.14 Wisconsin (8-2, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Milwaukee (8-2, 2-0 Horizon)

Date/Time - Tuesday, December 13, 7 p.m. Central

Arena – U.S. Cellular Arena (10,111)

Television - TWC Sports32 (Daron Suton and Adrian Tigert)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 27-1 (UW leads 9-0 in Milwaukee)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 61-40, on December 8, 2011 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (Junior Forward, 9.6 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Senior Guard, 11.6 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Sophomore Guard, 7.7 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Junior Forward, 6.3 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Junior Forward, 11.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (Sophomore Guard, 12.6 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (Freshman Guard, 1.4 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Senior Guard, 2.7 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (Freshman Forward, 3.6 ppg)

Milwaukee Probable Starters

2 Kaylon Williams (Senior Guard, 12.8 ppg)

3 Kyle Klem (Sophomore Forward, 9.3 ppg)

4 Ryan Allen (Senior Guard, 9.3 ppg)

14 Paris Gulley (Junior Guard, 5.4 ppg)

42 James Haarsma (Junior Forward, 10.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ja'Rob McCullum (Junior Guard, 10.0 ppg)

5 Shaq Boga (Freshman Guard, 2.0 ppg)

21 Tony Meier (Senior Forward, 8.5 ppg)

22 Evan Richard (Freshman Guard, 4.1 ppg)

Last Time Out

No.14 Wisconsin didn't shoot an impressive percentage, but crashed the boards with a stout aggressiveness and got a career-high 25 points from Brust to register an impressive 62-51 wire-to-wire victory over UNLV.

"The past three games, a lot of them felt good, just weren't going in," said Brust, who hit all seven of his 3-pointers to bump his percentage to 49.2 percent on the season. "You've got to have shooters amnesia and just let it go, keep firing and shoot out of it."

After leading the team with 10 points at halftime, Brust caught fire in the second half by hitting all five of his shots, all 3-pointers, to never let Wisconsin's second-half lead dip below eight.

"I think he (Brust) does that in his sleep," said UW coach Bo Ryan as he made a shooting motion. "Ben was moving away from the ball and finding soft spots. He's real good at that. He moves better away from the ball than anybody we have and a result, he gets wide open looks."

Sleep or awake, the shots were vital on an afternoon where UW needed to do nearly all of its damage without much help from All-American senior Jordan Taylor, who finished with four points on 0-of-10 shooting and appeared to moving gingerly in the second half after taking a couple falls in transition.

As a result, Brust kept firing with accuracy and his teammate kept feeding the hot hand. Six of Brust's seven 3-pointers resulted in an assist and a majority of them came well beyond the 3-point line where UNLV's help defense was slow getting a hand into the shooting lane.

Taylor assisted on two of them and finished with six assists, moving him into third place on UW's career assists list.

The M.O. of UNLV (9-2) during its hot start was its ability to shoot the basketball effectively. In four games, the Runnin' Rebels made double-digit 3-pointers, including a season-high 13 against then-No. 1 North Carolina, scored 90 points twice and were 13th in the country averaging 83 points per game.

Against Wisconsin, UNLV ended up outshooting UW (39.1-to-37.0 percent), but made only five three-pointers, turned the ball over 15 times and lost another game when a player made at least seven 3-pointers (Wichita State's Joe Ragland, 31 points on 8-of-9 3-pointers).

Out rebounded for three straight games, Wisconsin crashed the boards with effectiveness against one of the better rebounding teams in the nation. Wisconsin shot just 12-of-33 (36.4 percent) in the first half, but had a 13-point lead at halftime by out rebounding UNLV 9-0 on the offensive glass, leading to a 9-0 edge in second chance points.

Last Meeting

Since Ryan took over at Wisconsin, the Badgers have excelled to an almost unbelievable degree in the Kohl Center. But this is getting ridiculous.

Through five games at home this season — and not counting the exhibition season — Wisconsin has defeated their opponents by an average of 29.8 points per game. They embarrassed an ACC team, N.C. State by a 39 point margin of victory. Not a single game has been close even at half time and the tightest margin of victory at the Kohl Center all year has been 15 points.

This was a repeat of what we have seen all season. The Badgers knocked off UW-Milwaukee 61-40, led at halftime by 19 points and saw all the human victory cigars at the end of the bench see playing time.

Of course, Ryan doesn't see it quite that way.

"They don't care in the end what the stat sheet looks like, in the end they are just looking at one grouping of numbers — left hand side and right hand side," Ryan said. "As long as you have got guys doing that."

The ultimate hot and cold player, Nankivil played the perfect third fiddle to Leuer and Taylor Wednesday night.

Nankivil shot the ball well (5-for-6 for 10 points), rebounded best on the team with nine boards and had three blocks that got the loudest cheers all night. Assigned to guard the Panthers leading scorer Anthony Hill, Nankivil held Hill to three total points on 0-for-8 shooting.

Series Notes:

UW has won each of the last 18 meetings between the two schools. Under Bo Ryan, UW is 10-0 against Milwaukee, including a pair of wins on the Panthers' home floor: 81-79 at the Klotsche Center on 12/27/01 and 61-39 at U.S. Cellular Arena on 12/12/07.

Wisconsin and Milwaukee have played every season since the 1992-93 campaign, which coincidentally was the only time the Panthers claimed victory — a 77-72 win in Madison on Dec. 12, 1992.

Including a 70-42 win over Green Bay last Wednesday, UW is 81-24 (.771) all-time vs. teams in the Horizon League.

Under Ryan, the Badgers have a 26-6 (.813) record in the in-state round-robin with Marquette (6-5), Milwaukee (10-0) and Green Bay (10-1). Ryan's teams have never finished worse than 2-1 in the state series.

Ryan served as head coach at Milwaukee for two seasons (2000 and 2001), compiling a record of 30-27 (.526).

Ryan has a long history with Panthers head coach Rob Jeter. Jeter played for Ryan at UW-Platteville from 1987-91, captaining the 1991 national championship team. Jeter also served an assistant under Ryan for 10 years at UW-Platteville, Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Most recently, Ryan and Jeter teamed up to coach Team USA to a bronze medal at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia in the summer of 2009.

UWM is hosting a ranked, non-league foe for the first time since 1997.

Wisconsin Notes

With a 62-51 victory over UNLV, Bo Ryan earned his 250th win as the head coach at Wisconsin. Ryan reached 250 wins in 343 games, making him the 3rd-fastest Big Ten coach to reach the 250 wins plateau. Only Indiana's Bob Knight and Purdue's Ward Lambert did it faster.

The Badgers have held 6 of 10 opponents below 45 points this season. Only 3 teams over the past 8 seasons have held more than 6 teams below 45 points in a season (Wisconsin, Washington State and Old Dominion).

In his 11 seasons, Bo Ryan's teams have amassed a record of 106-27 (79.7%) in regular-season nonconference games. Ryan's teams are 27-21 (.563) away from the Kohl Center during non-conference play, including 13- 13 (.500) in true road contests.

Despite a recent decline, the Badgers still rank 2nd in the Big Ten shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range on the season, draining 94-of-234 shots from downtown. That shooting percentage also ranks 31st in the nation. UW has made 94 3-pointers on the season, an average of 9.4 per game - tops in the Big Ten and 9th in the NCAA.

Since 2009-10, Wisconsin is 16-2 (.889) in games coming after a loss, which is tied with Ohio State as the highest winning percentage in the Big Ten over that span.

Milwaukee Notes:

UWM continues to battle injury troubles early in the season. Tony Meier missed the first six games of the season with a calf injury, while Ja'Rob McCallum has missed the last four games with a wrist injury. The Panthers have yet to play a game with their expected starting five.

After losing their first 25 games against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll, the Panthers have beaten four ranked foes in their last 17 tries. Three of those wins came in the NCAA Tournament while the other victory came against Butler late in the 2008-09 season when the Bulldogs were ranked 21st.

The Panthers' 8-2 record after 10 games is the best since 2002-03, when Milwaukee was also 8-2. UWM also won its 11th game that year. The last time the Panthers started better than 8-2 was in 1992-93, when Milwaukee started 18-1

Prediction

If you are driving down I-94 looking for an offensive showcase, don't bother stopping at the MECCA because this was one as ugly slugfest written all over it. Look at the stats:

UWM opponents are shooting just 38.9 percent from the field against Milwaukee and scoring only 58.6 points per game. Over the first 10 games, five of UWM's opponents have failed to get to 60 points (that happened just five times all of last season) and the Panthers have held nine of their 10 opponents to under 44 percent shooting from the field, with seven of the 10 failing to reach 40 percent.

Wisconsin is limiting foes to an NCAA-best 44.9 points per game. UW also ranks third in the nation in field goal percentage defense (33.5). The Badgers have held nine of their 10 opponents to that team's lowest scoring output of the season and held six of 10 opponents below 45 points this season.

First one to 50 wins?

Milwaukee is a tough, tough team, which shouldn't be surprised when you know the history of its head coach. Milwaukee's two losses have come on the road at Michigan State by 13 (Panthers shot 5-of-25 from 3-point range) and at Northern Iowa (Milwaukee committed 15 turnovers). Against UNI, the home Panthers outrebounded the road Panthers 14-7 on the offensive end and led to a 17-2 advantage in points off of turnovers a 16-7 lead in second-chance points.

That's key one to beat UWM. Key two is the 3-point shot. UWM entered the UNI third in the country in defending the three-point shot but Northern Iowa converted 9-of-19 from beyond the arc. The Badgers are going to need Ben Brust's shooting touch and Jordan Taylor to break out of his funk.

Playing against an up-tempo style benefits Wisconsin sometimes because its opponents are used to playing at a slower tempo. Milwaukee is used to a slower pace and these teams know each other well, which means it is going to come down to execution and effort on the defensive end and on the glass. Sounds a lot like a Big Ten game, doesn't it?

For that reason alone (a Big Ten-type game), I give the edge to Wisconsin for playing in that atmosphere at least 19 times a season, as I believe the Badgers are going to win by 11 points.

Worgull's Record: 9-1

Points off Prediction: 109 (10.9 per game)


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