Preview: Milwaukee at Wisconsin

After a lengthy 10-day layoff for final exams, Wisconsin plays its final in-state matchup against Milwaukee tonight at the Kohl Center.

Milwaukee (3-9, 0-0 Horizon) at Wisconsin (7-4, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, December 22, 8:15 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,249)

Television - Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Mike Kelley)

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

Series – Wisconsin Leads 28-1 (Wisconsin leads 18-1 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 60-54, on December 13, 2011 in Milwaukee

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 12.5 ppg)

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

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 4.4 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 10.0 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 13.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 5.6 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 6.2 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 3.4 ppg)

34 Zach Bohannon (6-8 Junior Forward, 1.1 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 4.7 ppg)

Milwaukee Probable Starters

1 Jordan Aaron (5-10 Junior Guard, 14.8 ppg)

3 Kyle Kelm (6-9 Junior Forward, 8.3 ppg)

14 Paris Gulley (6-2 Senior Guard, 14.2 ppg)

34 Austin Arians (6-6 Freshman Forward, 6.1 ppg)

42 James Haarsma (6-7 Senior Forward, 7.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

10 Thierno Niang (6-1 Junior Guard, 4.4 ppg)

15 Demetrious Harris (6-7 Senior Forward, 8.1 ppg)

22 Evan Richard (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 1.0 ppg)

23 J.J. Panoske (6-10 Freshman Forward, 1.1 ppg)

44 Ryan Haggerty (6-8 Senior Forward, 1.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

UW ended the first half on a 13-2 run and opened the second stanza by scoring the first five points. In total, the Badgers ripped off an 18-2 run, turning a 14-21 deficit into a 32-23 lead. Wisconsin won 65-54.

The Badgers committed six turnovers, matching their second-lowest total. UW also had 8 blocks, the season's second-highest total. UW won a game when being out-rebounded (35-32) for the first time on the season.

Ryan Evans (13 points), Jared Berggren and Sam Dekker (10 apiece) led UW in scoring. Coming off the bench, the trio of freshman Zak Showalter (8 points), sophomore Frank Kaminsky (8) and freshman George Marshall (6) combined to score 22 points on 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) shooting from the floor.

Last Meeting

MILWAUKEE ( - For the first 36 minutes of the basketball game, Jordan Taylor admitted he was one of the worst offensive players in the country. His shot, again, evaded him, his ball control was surprisingly suspect and his underhanded layups weren't even close to the rim.

But with Milwaukee holding all the momentum after reeling off a 21-4 run to tie the score and No.14 Wisconsin needing a big shot to turn the tide, there was no doubt in the Badgers' huddle of who was going to make the key shots.

After missing the mark in back-to-back losses two weeks ago, Wisconsin's All-American showed cold water still runs through his veins. Taylor scored seven of his team's final nine points and half of his 14 points down the stretch, including a dagger 3-pointer with less than a minute to go, to lead the Badgers to a 60-54 victory over Milwaukee Tuesday night in front of 10,143 fans at U.S. Cellular Arena, the largest regular-season home crowd in school history.

"How can you not want a guy like that taking a shot?" questioned junior Jared Berggren, who led all scorers with 17 points. "When it comes down to it, we all have confidence in him to make that big shot. I think the majority of the time he's going to come through for us."

The end result was far from expected early in the second half, not with Wisconsin (9-2) seemingly controlling the post and tempo in building a 44-27 with 15 minutes, 17 seconds left. Slowly but surely, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan saw his team get away from its fundamentals, miss 6-of-7 shots, turn the ball over three times and see Milwaukee (8-3) hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a 10 minute span to pull even.

Human nature would say the Badgers were blindsided but it provided Taylor a platform to finally shake off some cobwebs.

"It's a mental thing, putting it in your pocket of mental toughness," Taylor said. "You just have to hang in there and do a better job and be tougher."

It started with Jared Berggren hitting a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to give UW a 51-48 lead. Following a dunk by Milwaukee's Ryan Allen, Taylor unleashed a spin move in the paint that resulted in an uncontested layup for his first points since the 19:22 mark of the second half.

There was more to come. After knocking down two free throws to make the score 55-50 and seeing his counterpart, Kaylon Williams, follow with a layup of his own, Taylor stood at the top of the key, saw Allen sag off slightly to give him an opening a hit a 3-point dagger to make the score 58-52 with 41.8 seconds left.

Milwaukee never cut the lead below four again.

Series Notes:

Outside the Big Ten, UW has faced only Marquette (119) and Butler (31) more frequently than Milwaukee (30). The Badgers have won 19 consecutive games in this series.

Under Bo Ryan, UW is 11-0 against Milwaukee, including a mark of 8-0 in Madison and three road wins.

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 65-54 win over Green Bay on Dec. 12 of this year, UW is 65-9 (.878) all-time vs. teams in the Horizon League.

Under Ryan, the Badgers have a 28-7 (.800) record in the in-state round-robin with Marquette (6-6), Milwaukee (11-0) and Green Bay (11-1).

Ryan's teams have never finished worse than 2-1 in the state series.

Prior to coming to UW, 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.

Wisconsin Notes

Freshman Sam Dekker is becoming a bigger piece of the Badgers rotation with every game. Making his first 2 career starts at Marquette and vs. Green Bay, Dekker is averaging 22.5 minutes per game and ranks fourth among Big Ten freshmen with 10.0 ppg.

Senior Jared Berggren is establishing himself as one of the nation's premier big men in 2012-13. Berggren ranks among the Big Ten's best in points (13.9), rebounds (6.5), field goal percentage (.571) and blocks (1.8).

In the Bo Ryan era (since 2001-02), Wisconsin owns the 4th-highest home winning percentage in the nation. UW owns a record of 172-16 (.915) at the Kohl Center, including a mark of 88-7 (.926) against non-con foes.

UW has already faced 5 teams from the 2012 NCAA Tournament field. Among Big Ten teams, only Minnesota (4) and Iowa (3) have played more than 2 opponents from the 2012 NCAA Tourney.

Milwaukee Notes:

Milwaukee has started to get some solid play from its two interior regulars. Kyle Kelm is averaging 11.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in his last two outings, while James Haarsma tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to Tennessee Tech Saturday.

Paris Gulley is back in the Panther lineup after missing the first six games of the year with a broken hand. The senior played in all 34 games a season ago, averaging better than eight points per game while finishing second on the team in three-pointers. So far this season, he has reached double figures in four of his six outings.

The Panthers have shot under 33 percent in three-straight games, including a 32.2 percent effort in the loss to Tennessee Tech. Milwaukee also shot just 25.8 percent at DePaul Dec. 9 and followed that up by shooting 27.7 percent at Fairfield Dec. 12.

UWM snapped a five-game losing streak with its win over Northern Illinois two weeks ago but the Panthers have now dropped eight of their last nine since a win over Davidson. The five-game losing streak was the first losing streak of more than three games for Milwaukee since the 2007-08 season, when the Panthers dropped six-straight.


Many expected Ben Brust to take a bigger leap forward during his junior season, considering the opportunity he earned for himself being so productive off the bench. But with the injury to junior Josh Gasser, Brust has taken his game to another level with the added level of responsibility being a veteran guard on the court.

Despite his 6-foot-1 frame, Brust ranks 5th in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 7.4 per game, and is the only player under 6-6 among the conference's top-10 rebounders. Averaging 12.5 points per game, Brust leads the Big Ten with 4 double-doubles.

His high-level point production has come in part by better accuracy from three-point range. A year after shooting 38.9 percent (58-for-149) from three-point range and finishing second on the team with 58 made three-pointers, Brust has connected on 25-of-60 (.417) from downtown. Brust ranks 12th in the Big Ten, shooting 41.7 percent from long range and ranks 7th in the conference averaging 2.5 treys per game.

Picking up for Gasser, a Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection last season, Brust has a team-high 16 steals, ranking eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 1.6 steals per game. He has had multiple steals in six games.

Both teams got breaks at the right time. Wisconsin needed 10 days off to regroup and, hopefully get Mike Bruesewitz (concussion) some time to rest. Wisconsin's young guards – Jackson and Marshall - also should have probably taken some time to improve their craft and Evans to keep finding his free throw touch.

As for Milwaukee, its seven day break was probably spent looking for its offense. Milwaukee has now shot below 33 percent in three-straight games, including a 32.2 percent clip in the loss to Tennessee Tech last Saturday. This comes after UWM shot just 27.7 percent in the loss to Fairfield Dec. 12 after shooting only 25.8 percent at DePaul Dec. 9. The percentage at DePaul marked the lowest since Milwaukee shot just 26.7 percent in a loss at Marquette a season ago. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they are facing the wrong team to find their shooting touch.

These in-state games bring a new level of intensity and one where records are usually meaningless (if you don't believe me, look at the final score of the Green Bay-Marquette game Wednesday night). This may not be the prettiest game of the season, but Wisconsin's defense should stifle Milwaukee and the Badgers will make enough shots in the second half to win a 17-point contest.

Worgull's Record: 7-4

Points off Prediction: 144 (13.1 per game)

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