Preview: Samford at Wisconsin

A week after dispatching in-state rival Milwaukee, Wisconsin prepares for its final nonconference opponent against a battle-tested Samford Saturday at the Kohl Center.

Samford (3-10, 1-0 Southern Conference) at Wisconsin (8-4, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, December 29, 1 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,249)

Television - BigTenNetwork.com

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt LePay and Charlie Willis)

Series – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 12.1 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 11.3 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 5.1 ppg)

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

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 13.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 5.7 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 9.6 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 3.3 ppg)

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

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 4.5 ppg)

Last Time Out

MADISON (AP) - Ryan Evans scored a season-high 19 points, Ben Brust opened and closed a 17-1 first-half run with 3-pointers and Wisconsin routed Milwaukee 74-53 on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

Traevon Jackson added a career-best 13 points and Jared Berggren had 11 as Wisconsin (8-4) beat its state rivals for the 20th consecutive season and improved to 29-1 in the teams' all-time series.

Milwaukee (3-10) got out to an early 10-8 lead behind Paris Gulley's seven points, but Brust gave the Badgers the lead with his first 3-pointer 6:15 in, and his second put his team up 25-11 with 9:40 left in the first half.

Gulley had 16 points to lead the Panthers, which has lost nine of 10 and four in a row.

Series Notes:

The Badgers are 7-2 against members of the Southern Conference , most recently defeating Wofford, 69-33, at the Kohl Center on Nov. 19, 2011. Wisconsin's two losses against the conference have come against Davidson.

Samford head coach Bennie Seltzer faced Wisconsin 11 times as an assistant coach at Oklahoma, Marquette and Indiana. Seltzer's teams went 1-10 against the Badgers, going 0-1 with OU, 1-1 at MU and 0-8 while an assistant at Indiana.

Wisconsin sophomore Evan Anderson and Samford sophomore Connor Miller are former teammates and both hail from Stanley, Wis.

Wisconsin Notes

In 12 seasons under Bo Ryan, the Badgers are 115-1 (99.1 percent) at home when holding teams below 60 points. The only loss was a 58-52 setback to Ohio State on Feb. 4, 2012.

The Badgers are scoring at a good clip this season, ranking 7th in the Big Ten at 72.1 points per game. Wisconsin has reached 80 points four times and topped 70 points in 8 of 12 games this season. A year ago, UW averaged 64.0 ppg and topped 70 just 9 times total.

After leading the nation in fewest turnover the last two seasons, UW again leads the Big Ten and ranks 3rd in the nation, turning the ball over just 9.6 times per game. Only Cal Poly (8.5) and Pitt (9.2) are taking better care of the ball than the Badgers.

Wisconsin has 4 of the Big Ten's top 3-point shooters so far this season. Redshirt freshman George Marshall ranks 6th in the conference connecting on 44.2 percent (19-43), while junior Ben Brust is 8th, shooting 42.2 percent (27-64) and freshman Sam Dekker is 11th in the Big Ten with a mark of 41.0 percent (16-39). Senior Jared Berggren would also rank 8th in the conference with a mark of 42.3 percent (11-26), but he falls one made triple short of qualifying.

Wisconsin is forcing opponents into 14.1 turnovers per game this season, equaling the highest average of the Bo Ryan era. UW's 2006-07 team is only other squad to average over 14 forced TOs per game.

Samford Notes:

In its last game 10 days ago, Samford earned its first road win of the season and snapped a three-game losing streak against former Ohio Valley Conference-rival UT Martin (3-9). The Bulldogs shot a sizzling 56.5 percent from the field and knocked down seven 3-point baskets.

Junior Will Cook paced Samford Wednesday with a career-high 18 points as the Bulldogs' high-flying native of Dallas, Texas, turned in a 7-of-9 shooting performance from the field. He was one of five Samford players to score in double figures, a season high for the Bulldogs.

Along with Cook's 18 points and seven rebounds, Samford also received double-figure performances from Raijon Kelly, Tim Williams, Clide Geffrard, Jr., and Connor Miller. Kelly and Williams both tallied 16 points apiece, while Geffrard, Jr., added 11 and Miller dropped in 10.

Prediction

The Badgers are looking to reach nine non-conference wins for the 11th-consecutive season. In 12 seasons under head coach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has averaged 10.5 wins prior to Big Ten play, and the Badgers have had to earn every one of their wins.

Seldom things have been easy for Wisconsin without its point guard Josh Gasser and senior forward Mike Bruesewitz still striving to be near 100 percent after being set back with his leg laceration in fall camp and his concussion sustained in practice. In Wisconsin's four losses and close calls, it's been deficiencies in guard play and toughness that cost them, something that would have been corrected with those guys at 100 percent in the lineup.

One of the things that haven't hurt Wisconsin at home this season is defense, holding all eight opponents to 60 points or less. That's nothing new for Wisconsin, which has held each of its last 15 home opponents to 60 points or less, dating back to last season. That is the longest active streak and tied for the third-longest in NCAA Div. 1 since 1996-97.

It's a reason Wisconsin owns the 4th-highest home winning percentage in the nation (173-16 (.915) at the Kohl Center, including a mark of 89-7 (.927) against non-con foes) in the Bo Ryan era (since 2001-02). Dating back to 2008, the Badgers have won 29 of their last 31 home non-con games.

For those that have been around the program, it shouldn't be surprised that Ryan has altered his coaching, teaching or much game planning just because the Badgers are still uncharacteristically trying to find their groove with one more "test" before the conference play. After all, it can be said with a lot of confidence that Ryan's teams are always better in February than they are in November-December.

All you need to know about the Bulldogs is that they are 1-7 away from home, lost all four games of the Atlantis tournament in November (including road games at then-No.2 Louisville and then-No.16 Memphis), lost at No.16 Kentucky and lost home games to Florida Gulf Coast, Sam Houston State and UT Arlington.

I hope the Rose Bowl is more competitive than this game. Wisconsin by 34.

Worgull's Record: 8-4

Points off Prediction: 148 (12.3 per game)


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