Preview: Iowa vs. No.11 Wisconsin

After opening the nonconference season with an impressive 24-point win at Nebraska, No.11 Wisconsin looks to win its 13th straight conference home opener when it hosts Iowa, a team it has beaten 13 of the last 15 meetings, Saturday afternoon.

Iowa (8-6, 0-1 Big Ten) vs. No.11 Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, December 31, 12 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Eric Collins and Jim Jackson)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Phil Dawson and Andy North)

Series – Wisconsin leads 77-76 (UW leads 49-27 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 62-59 in overtime, on February 9, 2011 in Iowa City

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 10.8 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 12.4 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.5 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.0 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 12.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

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

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.6 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.9 ppg)

Iowa Probable Starters

1 Melsahn Basabe (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 9.8 ppg)

4 Roy Devyn Marble (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 11.4 ppg)

5 Matt Gatens (6-5 Senior Guard, 13.8 ppg)

15 Zach McCabe (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 7.1 ppg)

25 Eric May (6-5 Junior Guard, 7.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Josh Oglesby (6-5 Freshman Guard, 7.3 ppg)

20 Andrew Brommer (6-9 Senior Center, 3.0 ppg)

24 Bryce Cartwright (6-1 Senior Guard, 5.9 ppg)

30 Aaron White (6-8 Freshman Forward, 9.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

With a career-high 22 points, Evans again found his niche away from the Kohl Center, proving to be the ultimate road warrior for the Badgers, who shook out of an early shooting funk to run away from Nebraska, 64-40, Tuesday in front of 10,812 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

"I started inside and worked my way out," said Evans, who added a team-high six rebounds along with two assists, one steal and no turnovers. "I kind of got them with the okie doke."

To say Evans has been a surprise is putting it mildly. In Wisconsin's two toughest environments entering conference play, the redshirt junior has filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 10 points, a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks at No.5 North Carolina and finished with a then-career high 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks at Milwaukee.

It was evident that those performances are just a measure of foreshadowing. Registering his production with an efficient 9-of-11 from the floor, 2-of-3 from three-point range and 2-of-2 from the free throw line, Evans is averaging 13.2 points in five games on the road.

"I am more comfortable on the road," Evans said. "I get a little more adrenaline going because it's kind of like us against the world. I think it's fun to play on the road."

Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) was caught on its heels early, allowing Nebraska to score the game's first seven points, and let senior guard Toney McCray (team-high 16 points) get comfortable with eight points in the first five minutes. It was vastly different after that.

Wisconsin responded by unleashing a 22-5 run that was all about Evans and the perimeter game. Evans broke the seal for the Badgers with a jumper from the baseline and followed that with a layup, a defensive rebound and a three-pointer on three straight possessions.

The three-point shot became contagious from there, as Jared Berggren (six points) and Jordan Taylor (15 points) made back-to-back three-pointers to make the opening Nebraska (8-4, 0-1 Big Ten) run a memory, as UW never let the lead get smaller than five the rest of the game.

Wisconsin shot 51.1 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from 3-point range overall.

Last Meeting

Sometimes, stealing one in crunch time is better than blowing one team out of the water, a bit of relief the Badgers experienced against a young, yet scrappy Iowa squad that UW scraped past with a 62-59 overtime victory Wednesday night.

It was a gut check for all 45 minutes for Wisconsin (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten), which experienced the whole spectrum of emotions. UW went from being unable to throw a basketball into the ocean to taking control to seeing a game-winning shot from Iowa touch three-quarters of the rim before trickling to the court at the end of regulation.

In terms of beauty on a scale of 1 to 10, this one was not for the faint of heart.

"Probably a negative one," said Leuer, who finished with a game-high 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. "It was ugly, definitely."

While it wasn't as pretty as dominate 30-point performance Sunday, the Badgers would be in a different place without Taylor's grinding effort. The junior guard's 6-for-18 points wasn't aesthetically pleasing, but the timeliness in his 16-point production warranted a long nap on the beige pillow he clung to as he sauntered to the bus.

"He's not Superman, he can't do everything but sometimes, you think he is," Leuer said.

With Wisconsin down 53-51 late in regulation, Taylor hit a pull-up jumper at the top of the key with 29 seconds left, and then contesting Bryce Cartwright's step-back jump shot, having enough of an impact to see it teeter off the rim with one second remaining in regulation.

"He makes that shot … it was right in and out," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "We got the shot we wanted there."

The last time Taylor stepped foot in Iowa City, the then-freshman hit a three from near midcourt that sent the game to overtime, only to see his team run out of steam in the extra session. This time, Taylor had enough in the tank to help UW commit only two turnovers in the final 25 minutes while he dished out eight assists.

"Taking care of the ball saves us again," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "Who's responsible for taking care of the ball? Jordan Taylor."

One could tell how hard Taylor battled, as his media session lasted less than 90 seconds, his answers were short and his eyes glazed over … a product of playing 44 of 45 minutes and being on the receiving end of a hard foul by Cartwright with seven seconds remaining in overtime.

"It was a struggle, but we got a win," Taylor said. "That's all that matters."

Series Notes:

The Badgers have won 13 of the last 15 against Iowa, including wins in each of the last three meetings.

Wisconsin is 49-27 against Iowa in games played in Madison, including a string of nine consecutive wins at the Kohl Center. Iowa's last win at Wisconsin was a 79-76 victory in 1998.

Bo Ryan is 14-4 all-time against Iowa, including a perfect 8-0 at home. Ryan and Fran McCaffery have met just once, UW's 62-59 OT win last season.

UW and Iowa will also play on Feb. 23, 2012 in Iowa City.

Wisconsin has won 49 straight games when posting a higher FG% than its opponents. UW's last loss when out-shooting its foe was a 73-69 overtime loss at Iowa on Jan. 21, 2009. UW shot .475 in that game, while Iowa shot .465.

Wisconsin Notes

Ben Brust, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans combined to average 5.9 points per game last season. This season, they all rank among the Big Ten's most improved and are currently combining for 33.5 points.

The Badgers rank 2nd in the Big Ten shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range on the season, draining 118-of-287 shots from downtown. That shooting percentage also ranks 13th in the nation. UW has made 118 3-pointers on the season, an average of 8.4 per game - 3rd in the Big Ten.

Preseason All-American Jordan Taylor might just be the best all-around lead guard in the nation. He leads the Badgers in scoring, ranks 6th in the NCAA with a 3.33 assist-to-turnover ratio and earned Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors a year ago. In 55 career Big Ten games, Taylor has a TOTAL of 52 turnovers.

Iowa Notes:

Iowa has collected 10 steals or more in seven games. The Hawkeyes earn the third largest steal differential in the country (plus 63)

Last season, Marble averaged 5.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and shot 51 percent from the free throw line. This season, Marble is averaging 11.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and is shooting 76 percent from the line.

Basabe has averaged 13.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in seven December games.


On the surface, Iowa appears to present a tremendous challenge. The Hawkeyes rank second in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (.748), third in scoring (77.9), steals (8.7) and fourth in rebounding (36.7) and assists (16.0).

Over the last games, Iowa has four players averaging over 12 points per game and another player averaging 9.3 points per game. The Hawkeyes also took Purdue down to the final minute before losing 79-76 in their home conference opener.

But as you peel back the onion, some glaring stats come to up. For starters, Iowa hasn't played a ranked team yet, and its nonconference strength of schedule ranked 263rd out of 345, just ahead of 2-7 High Point and just behind 3-7 Montana State. I'm all for winning as much as the next guy, but that is ridiculous.

In Bo Ryan's 11 seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers have compiled a 160-12 (.932) record at the Kohl Center, including a 82-6 (.932) mark in nonconference games and a record of 78-6 (.929) in Big Ten home games. UW's .930 home winning percentage since 2001-02 ranks 4th in the nation over that span. Wisconsin also hasn't lost to Iowa at home under Ryan.

Bo Ryan's teams are a perfect 10-0 in Big Ten home openers, winning by an average of 14.9 ppg. Two of those wins came against Iowa. If Wisconsin can win on the road by 24 against a Nebraska team that is likely better than Iowa, they can certainly beat the Hawkeyes at home by the same margin.

Worgull's Record: 13-1

Points off Prediction: 132 (9.43 per game)

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