Preview: Nebraska-Omaha vs. Wisconsin

After a bounce-back performance Sunday afternoon against a solid California team, Wisconsin hits the court two days later to take on a struggling Nebraska-Omaha team Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Nebraska-Omaha (2-7, 0-2 Summit) at Wisconsin (5-3, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Tuesday, December 4, 7 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,249)

Television - (Mike Couzens and Brooke Weisbrod)

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

Series – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 13.5 ppg)

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

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 4.6 ppg)

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

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 15.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 5.9 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 10.5 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.4 ppg)

34 Zach Bohannon (6-8 Junior Forward, 1.3 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 3.3 ppg)

Nebraska-Omaha Probable Starters

4 Alex Phillips (6-3 Junior Guard, 10.3 ppg)

12 Caleb Steffensmeier (6-1 Junior Guard, 3.9 ppg)

21 Justin Simmons (6-3 Junior Guard, 12.1 ppg)

31 Alex Welhouse (6-7 Senior Forward, 7.6 ppg)

44 John Karhoff (6-8 Junior Center, 5.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

10 C.J. Carter (6-0 Sophomore Guard, 5.3 ppg)

23 Marcus Tyus (6-1 Freshman Guard, 5.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

More important than Wisconsin getting four players in double figures was the fact that the Badgers were relentless on the offensive and defensive glass. Not surprisingly, it resulted in a near complete performance in an 81-56 victory over California Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin (5-3) out muscled the Bears, who were averaging 41 rebounds per game, by a 36-30 rebounding advantage and a 14-12 edge on the offensive glass. Wisconsin turned 14 offensive rebounds into 18 second-chance points and 28 points in the paint while limiting California (6-1) to seven second-chance points.

The majority of that production came from Wisconsin's senior frontcourt, as Berggren (18 points), Mike Bruesewitz (8) and Ryan Evans (13) combined for 21 of UW's rebounds and 11 of its second-chance points, as Wisconsin shot 51.7 percent (30-for-58) from the floor.

"We just played harder," said Bruesewitz, who was held to only one rebounds in last week's loss. "We got all the loose ones. That was the biggest thing. We took care of the small stuff.

"The team that plays harder generally wins."

To call a victory in early December a ‘must win' would seem premature but a loss would have put the Badgers in unfamiliar territory, being .500 or worst in the first week of December for the first time since Ryan's first season in 2001.

Maybe that's why the urgency was ratcheted up in more areas that rebounding. Wisconsin blocked five shots, held and saw its man-to-man ball pressure result in 23 California's turnovers, as Wisconsin's 16 steals were one shy of the school record of 17 set in 1988.

California came in averaging 74.7 points per game and shooting 48.8 percent, thanks in large part to its junior guard duo of Allen Crabbe (22.0 ppg) and Justin Cobbs (20.0 ppg).

Against Wisconsin, the Golden Bears shot 38.3 percent and held to a season-low point production. Crabbe got his points (a game-high 25), but Cobbs was held to 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting.

"It's sticking with our rules and making them work really hard for what they got," said junior Ben Brust, who scored a season-high 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting while helping defend Cobbs. "Once they shoot it, we got to finish the play and rebound. Overall, it's making sure we're working hard, working them and making sure they have to work on both ends of the floor."

Benjamin Worgull –

Series Notes:

The Badgers are 6-1 all-time vs. members of the Summit League. Bo Ryan's teams are 5-1 vs. Summit League foes, including a 77-31 win over Kansas City last season in the most recent meeting. The only game vs. a Summit opponent prior to the Ryan era was a 69-42 win over Western Illinois (12/7/89).

UNO is in its second year as a reclassifying Division I school in 2012-13 and officially joined The Summit League in July 2012 with a full regular-season conference schedule ahead. The Mavericks are led by head coach Derrin Hansen, who is in his eighth year at the helm of the UNO program with a career record of 123-93.

Although the Mavericks will appear in the Summit League standings, they cannot qualify for the Summit League Championship or the NCAA Tournament, and Maverick student-athletes are not eligible for all-conference awards until 2015-16.

Omaha's 2012-13 schedule includes 31 games against 20 different Division I opponents, and the team will play in 13 states and all four time zones across the country. UNO will match up with opponents from eight different conferences: Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Great West, Mid-American (MAC), Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC), Summit League and Western Athletic (WAC). Three foes were 2012 NCAA Tournament qualifiers: defending Summit League champion South Dakota State, Wisconsin and Iowa State. UW had the longest postseason run, falling 64-63 to Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

Wisconsin Notes

Brust ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 7.5 per game. Among the conference's top- 10 rebounders, Brust is the only player under 6-foot-6. Averaging 13.5 points per game, Brust has already posted three double-doubles this season.

UW is 5-0 when shooting a better FG% than its opponents and 0-3 when the opponent shoots better. The Badgers have won 77 of their last 78 games when owning the better FG percentage, including 8 consecutive such wins. Wisconsin's last loss when shooting a higher FG% was a 67- 66 loss at Iowa (2/23/12).

UW is 4-0 when owning the rebound edge and 0-3 when its opponent grabs more rebounds. Since last season, the Badgers have won 6 straight when having an advantage on the glass.

Nebraska-Omaha Notes:

The Mavericks are in the midst of a challenging 10-game away schedule that keeps them on the road until Dec. 18. Omaha traveled to Texas Tech on Nov. 14, Tulane on Nov. 16 and Nebraska on Nov. 18. The Tulane and Nebraska contests were part of the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic, which continued with contests against Bethune Cookman (Nov. 23) and Chicago State (Nov. 24). After two Summit League games last weekend at North Dakota State (Nov. 29) and South Dakota State (Dec. 1), Omaha closes the span with Wisconsin (Dec. 4), Iowa State (Dec. 9) and Denver (Dec. 15).

Omaha closed its first weekend of conference play Saturday evening, falling 78-63 to defending league champion South Dakota State at Frost Arena. Junior center John Karhoff led the Mavs with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor, as well as three rebounds and two assists for the night.

Junior guard Justin Simmons has stepped into an immediate starting role for the Mavericks after transferring from Butler Community College. He averages 12.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest over nine games. Simmons is playing essentially just his third year of organized basketball. He played for South Division High School as a senior, then became an All-American long jumper at Concordia University in Wisconsin. In 2011-12, Simmons returned to the basketball court at Butler CC, where he averaged 16.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 assists per game, which drew the attention of the UNO staff and prompted him to join the Maverick program in 2012-13.

Junior guard Alex Phillips has been a major contributor in the first nine games of his Maverick career, averaging 10.3 points per contest with .484 shooting from the field and a .429 clip from beyond the arc.

The 2012-13 season marks UNO's inaugural season playing at newly constructed Ralston Arena, which will serve as the new home of Maverick men's basketball. On Nov. 9, Omaha hosted its first game in the facility, defeating Northern Illinois 77-64 in front of 2,224 fans.


It was fitting that Wisconsin won the way it did on Sunday. After the shocked Wisconsin football pulled late Saturday night, it was only fitting that the basketball team would pull an equal head scratcher the next afternoon.

A Wisconsin team that had looked lost against good teams on its schedule, held a previously undefeated California team to a season-low 56 points. The Bears entered the game averaging 74.7 ppg, but the Bears did respond well to have a week off between games and the Badgers pinching the gaps and squeezing the floor to make passing and driving lanes look smaller.

"We don't really track tips but if we were to look at this game at how many tips we had and how many of those tips resulted in steals, it would be a pretty high percentage," said Bruesewitz.

UW is 4-0 when holding opponents below 45.0 percent shooting from the ?eld and 0-3 when foes hit more than 45.0 percent. Dating back to last season, the Badgers have won 10 straight when holding foes below 45.0 percent.

Throw in the fact that Wisconsin hit what Brust called ‘the same looks' and it made for a perfect storm.

"It was a matter of us stepping up to the plate, being a man and finishing the play," said Brust. "It was good that the looks where there again."

It's a fair bet those looks will be prevalent again tonight. In three games this season against unranked mid-major schools, Wisconsin is averaging 82.7 points per game while limiting its opponent to 43.3 points per game. Omaha has struggled this season with its defense, as seven opponents have scored over 70 and four opponents score over 90.

After all, imagine when UW can do to a transitional Summit League school after seeing what it did to a team picked third in the Pac-12.

Expect another big 41-point victory tonight as UW prepares for Marquette in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Worgull's Record: 5-3

Points off Prediction: 106 (13.3 per game)

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