Preview: No.16 Wisconsin at Iowa

Reaching 20 wins for the sixth straight season and ninth time in 11 seasons under Bo Ryan, the Badgers look to win their sixth true road game of the season and maintain their hold on fourth place in the Big Ten when traveling to face improving Iowa Thursday in Iowa City.

No.16 Wisconsin (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten) vs. Iowa (14-13, 6-8 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Thursday, February 23, 8 p.m. Central

Arena – Carver Hawkeye Arena (14,123)

Television - ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien and Dan Dakich)

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

Series – Series tied 77-77 (Iowa leads 48-26 in Iowa City)

Last Meeting – Iowa won, 72-65, on December 31, 2011 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 10.5 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 14.5 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.3 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.4 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 10.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 8.6 ppg)

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

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.3 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.2 ppg)

Iowa Probable Starters

2 Josh Oglesby (6-5 Freshman Guard, 6.3 ppg)

4 Roy Devyn Marble (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 11.1 ppg)

5 Matt Gatens (6-5 Senior Guard, 14.8 ppg)

15 Zach McCabe (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 10.4 ppg)

30 Aaron White (6-8 Freshman Forward, 7.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Melsahn Basabe (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 8.3 ppg)

20 Andrew Brommer (6-9 Senior Center, 1.8 ppg)

24 Bryce Cartwright (6-1 Senior Guard, 6.4 ppg)

25 Eric May (6-5 Junior Guard, 5.6 ppg)

Last Time Out

Gasser helped take the pressure off of Taylor by scoring 15 points, one of four Badgers in double figures, to help Wisconsin hold off struggling Penn State 65-55 on Sunday.

Berggren added 13 points, and Evans and Taylor scored 11 each for the Badgers (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten), who have won eight of their last 10 games and maintained their grip on fourth place in a tight conference race.

"It's always nice when you see the ball go through the hoop," said Taylor, who went 4-for-12 from the floor but 3-for-6 from three-point range. "It's definitely important to get it going early to help us build our lead."

It's a victory that Wisconsin earned because it started shooting, and making, the three-point shot. The Badgers entered the day seventh in the league in three-point shooting (35.1 percent), but only shooting 32.9 percent at home, numbers that have caused Wisconsin to lose four home games for the first time in UW coach Bo Ryan's 11 seasons on the bench.

After missing its first two attempts, Wisconsin hit 7 of its next 12 in the first half, including one on five straight possessions, to build a 35-21 halftime lead. The biggest catalyst in that half was Gasser, who hit a 3-pointer on three straight possessions that put the Badgers on a 15-2 run, building a 27-13 lead after 13 minutes.

Wisconsin finished 11 of 22 from three-point range, its best percentage in over a month, and helped wash out the 5-for-24 shooting performance from Thursday's 14-point loss at No.7 Michigan State

"When shots are falling, everything seems to be going a little bit better," said Gasser. "Within our offense, we just got e got out in transition a little bit, got a few easy looks and those are always nice. Anytime you can knock down a few, you are going to be a little bit aggressive going forward."

The Nittany Lions (12-16, 4-11) came in riding their first two-game win streak since Dec. 18-21 and appeared ready to break a 14 game winless streak in Madison when it used a 17-2 run in the second half to cut the lead to 51-46 with 5:48 remaining.

That's as close as it would get, as Berggren hit a pair of 3-pointers to help Wisconsin close on a 14-9 run.

- By Benjamin Worgull – Badgernation.com/AP

Last Meeting

The Hawkeyes started celebrating a few hours before everybody else on Saturday.

White scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and fellow reserve Cartwright added 17 as the Hawkeyes stunned No. 11 Wisconsin 72-65.

Basabe added 14 points as the Hawkeyes (9-6, 1-1 Big Ten) snapped Wisconsin's 23-game home winning streak against unranked opponents -- the last unranked team to beat the Badgers at the Kohl Center was Illinois, a 63-56 winner on Feb. 9, 2010.

"We just came in with a definite mindset today to defy all the odds," said Cartwright, a senior who came in averaging 5.9 points and has been coming off the bench as he returns from a hamstring injury.

Cartwright scored 10 points in the second half, the last two a layup with 1:55 remaining that put Iowa ahead 68-60 and sent many in the crowd of 17,230 to the exits.

Wisconsin (12-3, 1-1), though, made one last surge.

Senior Jordan Taylor hit a 3-pointer and sophomore Ben Brust had a steal and layup that pulled the Badgers within 68-65 with 47 seconds to go.

The Hawkeyes worked the shot clock on their next possession and Marble hit a jumper from the right of the lane with 21 seconds remaining, and Jared Berggren missed a 3 on the other end to seal Iowa's surprising victory.

"All we needed to do was get a stop," said Taylor, who had 17 points to lead four players in double figures for Wisconsin. "We had them where we wanted ... and Marble made a tough runner-floater right there off the right side. That was a tough shot, and he made it."

The Badgers, meanwhile, didn't make nearly enough shots. They had their second-worst shooting game of the season (34.8 percent) and were a dismal 3 for 28 on 3-pointers on the same day their top-ranked defense allowed a season-high for points. Wisconsin hadn't allowed more than 61 points in its first 14 games and came in giving up an average of 44.4 points.

"If you hit shots, it's amazing how much better your defense looks," Ryan said after his team had its six-game winning streak snapped.

- By Associated Press

Series Notes:

Coincidentally, the Wisconsin-Iowa football all-time series is also tied 42-42-2.

UW has won in 7 of its last 10 trips to Carver- Hawkeye Arena, including a 62-59 overtime victory in Iowa City last season (2/9/11). Each of Wisconsin last two trips to Iowa City have resulted in an overtime affair - Iowa won, 73-69, in 2010 and UW won, 62-59, in 2011.

Overall, Wisconsin has won 13 of the last 16 meetings with Iowa.

Bo Ryan is 14-5 all-time against the Hawkeyes, including a 5-3 mark at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

UW assistant coach Gary Close was an assistant at Iowa from 1986-99 ... UW junior Zach Bohannon, who is redshirting this season after transferring from Air Force, is from Marion, Iowa and his father, Gordy, was a quarterback on Iowa's 1982 Rose Bowl team.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin is 8-3 away from the Kohl Center this season, including 6-3 true road games. By comparison, UW was 7-7 in road/neutral games and 5-6 in true road games during the 2010-11 regular season.

Since Bo Ryan was hired in 2001, Wisconsin has been the Big Ten's best road team. UW owns the most road wins (61) and best road winning percentage (.508) in the Big Ten. Ohio State is second with 54 overall road wins.

The Badgers .264 3-point field goal defense on pace to set the school record, which currently stands at .299 (172-575), set in 2004-05.

Wisconsin opponents are averaging just 14.1 free throw attempts per game, which is the second-fewest in the NCAA. Only North Carolina (13.2) is surrendering fewer.

This season UW ranks 2nd in the NCAA, turning the ball over just 8.96 times per game. The Badgers trail only Purdue (8.74), having a mere 6 more total turnovers.

Iowa Notes:

Iowa has posted three wins over RPI top 25 teams this year (No. 13 Michigan, No. 18 Indiana and No. 11 Wisconsin). Thursday will be Iowa's second straight game against a ranked foe.

Iowa owns a +4.5 rebounding advantage in its six Big Ten victories, while it has been outrebounded by 4.7 boards in its eight conference losses.

Iowa has collected 10 steals or more in 10 games. The 10 games with 10 or more steals lead the Big Ten. Iowa ranks first in the Big Ten in steals (7.9).

Iowa has collected three wins in the month of February (Minnesota, Penn State and Indiana). The last time the Hawkeyes had three or more February wins was in 2008 (four).

Iowa is 9-1 when scoring 80 points or more, under McCaffery, the last two seasons. Furthermore, the Hawkeyes are 13-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points.

Prediction

Tonight is ‘Matt Gatens Bobblehead Night' at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, fitting since he's making Big Ten opponents shake their heads over the last two games. Gatens is the league's hottest player, averaging 25.5 points, shooting 71 percent (12-of-17) from 3-point range, including making his last seven attempts, in Iowa's last two games.

On Sunday after Wisconsin slugged out a win over the Nittany Lions, Gatens scored 22 of his career-high 30 points in the second half to lift Iowa to a 78-66 victory over No. 18 Indiana in Iowa City. Gatens sunk seven 3s in a row - his last attempt of the first half and all six in the final 20 minutes - to tie for sixth-most in a single-game at Iowa.

That second half spurt wasn't a fluke. In the second half against Penn State the game before, Gatens netted 19 of his game-high 21 points in the final 20 minutes at Penn State. Trailing by 16 points in the second stanza, Gatens netted 11 straight points during the comeback that ultimately fell short.

In the last two games in the second half, Gatens has averaged 20.5 points, shooting 11-of-13 (.846) from 3-point range and 14-of-18 (.778) from the field, signs that the senior is tired of Iowa not playing in any postseason tournament during his tenure.

Tonight's matchup will feature the fourth and fifth active players in career scoring, as Gatens' 1,503 points ranks ahead of Jordan Taylor's 1,388. Taylor will again be the x-factor for Wisconsin, which is looking to avoid going 0-2 against Iowa in the first time since the 1994-'95 season, along with Berggren, who will need to control the paint better against a tough post player than he did against OSU's Sullinger.

Gatens was a non-factor the first time these two teams played (2-for-9 shooting, 6 points), so whatever the Badgers did worked. The big thing is cleaning up the transition opportunities, which have been much improved except for the black eye at East Lansing a week ago, and shoot a more balanced percentage. Berggren, Bruesewitz and Evans need to contribute in the low post while Taylor and Gasser need to create driving lanes and fouls. It sounds simple, but it's something UW hasn't done consistently this year.

Going into tonight's game, I wouldn't be surprised if either team wins. UW has been solid on the road while Iowa has been solid of late at home and has played UW tough during its last two visits. In a pointless tiebreaker, Wisconsin is 5-0 in games they have bused to from campus. That's why the Badgers win by three … because of the Detroit Diesel.

Worgull's Record: 23-4

Points off Prediction: 253 (9.37 per game)


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