Preview: Nebraska at Wisconsin

After its rare pick-me-up victory over Purdue at Mackey Arena Thursday, Wisconsin looks to reward the faithful fans that decide to skip the Packers game and head to the Kohl Center by finishing off a season sweep over Nebraska Sunday.

Nebraska (9-7, 1-4 Big Ten) Wisconsin (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten) vs.

Date/Time - Sunday, January 14, 5:00 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson & Shon Morris)

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

Series – Nebraska leads 10-7 (UW leads 4-2 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 64-40, on December 27, 2011 in Lincoln

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 9.9 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 13.5 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.4 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.3 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 11.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 10.1 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.7 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.7 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.5 ppg)

Nebraska Probable Starters

0 Toney McCray (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.6 ppg)

3 Brandon Richardson (6-0 Senior Guard, 6.8 ppg)

13 Brandon Ubel (6-10 Junior Forward, 6.6 ppg)

23 Bo Spencer (6-2 Senior Guard, 14.9 ppg)

25 Caleb Walker (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 David Rivers (6-7 Freshman Guard, 1.7 ppg)

5 Josiah Moore (6-5 Freshman Guard, 1.1 ppg)

21 Brian Diaz (6-11 Junior Center, 10.1 ppg)

24 Dylan Talley (6-5 Junior Guard, 9.1 ppg)

Last Time Out

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Call it a collective sigh of relief or the basketball gods finally balancing out the last two weeks, but Wisconsin is back on track after winning in the most improbable of places.

"We've been talking about all year, all summer, all fall in our workouts, being road warriors, getting some big wins on the road, (and) this was near the top of the list just because we haven't been very successful here," said Gasser, one of the five Badgers in double figures to help UW win, 67-62, against Purdue at Mackey Arena for only the third time since 1968.

"Coming here getting a win is exactly what we wanted to do. We've just got to start something now."

Wisconsin shot 47.5 percent (19-of-40) from the floor, 45 percent (9-of-20) from three-point range and 83.3 percent (20-of-24) from the free-throw line. The last time the Badgers hit those marks was at Nebraska December 27, which coincidentally was the last game UW won.

After going 11 games without reaching double figures in scoring, Bruesewitz was one of the big catalysts for Wisconsin, scoring 12 points, all on three pointers, and was one of three players to grab five rebounds before fouling out with 39.1 seconds left.

Brust led the Badgers with 13 points, Gasser scored nine of his 10 points in the first half and senior guard Taylor scored all 12 of his points after halftime, including going 8-for-10 from the free-throw line to help starve off Purdue's late charges.

Terone Johnson led Purdue with a career-high 16 points (but shot 4-of-13) and Robbie Hummel scored 13, but made just 5 of 17 shots after being hounded all night by Evans. After Hummel scored 21 points against the Badgers as a freshman in 2009, the senior has averaged 12.4 points per game in five meetings, but is a combined 20-for-67 (29.8 percent) over that stretch.

As a team, Purdue made just 21 of 61 field goals overall (34.3 percent) and went a backbreaking 12-for-22 from the free-throw line, including D.J. Byrd missing 3 of 5 free throws following a three-point foul and a technical on UW coach Bo Ryan protesting the call in the first half.

- By Benjamin Worgull,

Last Meeting

LINCOLN, NE - 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 was caught on its heels early, allowing Nebraska to score the game's first seven points, and let senior guard 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 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.

- By Benjamin Worgull,

Series Notes:

This marks Nebraska's first visit to Madison since 1983 when the Huskers won a 71-69, double-overtime thriller.

Wisconsin Notes

Over the last 11 seasons, 121 of the Badgers' 160 home wins have come by at least 10 points (75.6 percent).

Wisconsin is a perfect 12-0 this season when posting a higher shooting percentage than its opponent. In fact, the Badgers have won 51 consecutive games when outshooting the other team. UW's last loss when recording a higher FG percentage was a 73-69 overtime loss at Iowa on Jan. 21, 2009.

The Badgers made double digit free throws just once in their first 7 games. Since then, UW has reached double figures in FTs in 9 of its last 11 games. Wisconsin has gotten to the free throw line much more frequently recently. After attempting just 9.1 free throws over the first 7 games, the Badgers are shooting 19.5 free throws over the last 10 games.

Nebraska Notes:

Richardson leads Nebraska and ranks third in the Big Ten in steals (2.0 per game). He enters this weekend's action in second place among active Big Ten players in career steals, and he is on pace to become the first Husker since Cookie Belcher in 2000-01 to average more than two steals per game.

Diaz took just four shots against Penn State on Wednesday, but grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots, helping the Huskers hold PSU to 33 percent shooting. Offensively, he has been in double figures five times and now has 36 career games in double figures. He ranks 53rd on Nebraska's career scoring list with 738 points and needs 20 points to reach the top 50.

Nebraska began its inaugural Big Ten slate with one of the toughest stretches in conference history. The Huskers opened conference action with No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan State and No. 6 Ohio State in its first three conference contests. It marked the first time in school history that Nebraska has opened conference action with three straight ranked foes. In fact, it is only the fourth time in the last eight years that any Big Ten school has faced three straight ranked teams to start league play.

While Nebraska is 0-3 in the nation's top league according to the RPI, the Huskers will have several more opportunities to knock off ranked foes this month. Five of the Huskers' first eight Big Ten games are against ranked teams, including upcoming games against fifth-ranked Ohio State and No. 7 Indiana next week.

Nebraska's success has been predicated on clamping down on the opposition. Last year, the Huskers held 17 of 32 opponents under 60 points, compiling a 15-2 mark in those games. Counting the seven games this season, Nebraska has held 76 opponents to 60 points or less in Doc Sadler's tenure at Nebraska, compiling a 67-10 record in those games following the win over Penn State on Jan. 11.


He only scored three points and he's averaging just 2.7 points through 18 games, but the 13 minutes Rob Wilson was on the court Thursday against Purdue shows there is some positive signs of life moving forward. For the first time all season, Wilson was aggressive with his decision making and attacking the hoop, which showed on the sequence where he drove to the bucket, dunked and got fouled in the process.

It's a play Wilson couldn't make last year but the senior proclaims he is feeling 100 percent with his hamstrings, meaning he's got his strength back in his legs where he can consistently move and cut.

"It was an opportunity I felt I had with the driving lanes," said Wilson. "Purdue was playing aggressive defense and against them, you have to be aggressive first because that's there mentality. I feel like I've put together multiple practices that have helped me go out there have that confidence, too."

Just like Wilson, Nebraska is starting to get some confidence, too, now that the Cornhuskers are back to full strength. Nebraska's been much crisper on offense the last two games following the return of Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley from injuries. The Huskers have shot 50 percent in each of the last two contests, the first time this year Nebraska has shot better than 50 percent in consecutive games this season. That is a stark contrast from the 32.5 percent the Huskers shot in their first three conference efforts.

When Diaz and Talley are in the lineup, the Huskers score 66.1 points per game, shoot 46.2 percent from the field and average 33.8 rebounds per game. Without those two, the Huskers' points per game drop to 53.4, their shooting down to 37.2 percent and their rebounds down to 27.4 per game.

The key for Wisconsin (in addition to not losing its shot for an extended period of time again) would be containing Bo Spencer. The transfer tops NU in scoring (14.9), assists (3.9) and minutes (33.6) while shooting a team-high 86.8 percent from the foul line. He also leads NU with 13 double-figure efforts, including four 20-point efforts. In the first matchup with Wisconsin, Spencer was 2-for-12 from the floor, had five points and four turnovers.

A similar effort would lead to a Wisconsin blowout. The atmosphere today will be similar to a bad nonconference game over winter break, but Wisconsin might not need much to beat the Cornhuskers at home. In a year where the conference has 12 good teams in it (Nebraska included), the Cornhuskers, like football, are having trouble adjusting to the physicality this conference brings that differs from the Big 12.

Wisconsin – showing balance and getting a solid day from Taylor – win by 18.

Worgull's Record: 14-4

Points off Prediction: 201 (11.17 per game)

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