Breakdown: Green Bay vs. No.3 Wisconsin

Sophomore guard Bronson Koenig has his first breakout moment last year against Green Bay and will be one of the pieces No.3 Wisconsin relies on tonight during its annual meeting with the Phoenix. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

Green Bay (1-0, 0-0 Horizon) vs. No.3 Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Wednesday, November 19, 8 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,279)

Television -Big Ten Network (Corey Provus and Stephen Bardo)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 19-1 (UW leads 16-0 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 69-66, on November 16, 2013 in Green Bay

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 10.5 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 12.5 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 16.5 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.5 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 15.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 4.0 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, DNP)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 2.5 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 6.5 ppg)

Green Bay Probable Starters

4 Jordan Fouse (6-7 Junior Forward, 10.0 ppg)

12 Carrington Love (6-1 Junior Guard, 8.0 ppg)

15 Greg Mays (6-9 Senior Forward, 14.0 ppg)

24 Keifer Sykes (6-0 Senior Guard, 22.0 ppg)

45 Kenneth Lowe (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 2.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Turner Botz (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 3.0 ppg)

23 Daeshon Francis (6-3 Freshman Guard, 9.0 ppg)

34 Alfonzo McKinnie (6-8 Senior Forward, 8.0 ppg)

50 Henry Uwadiae (6-11 Sophomore Center, 6.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

MADISON - It took Wisconsin a little time to warm up against Northern Kentucky on Friday night. The same couldn’t be said in Sunday’s swift defeat of Chattanooga, 89-45.

Wisconsin got out and running early on a Chattanooga team that scored 110 points in its season opening victory. The Badgers dictated the game to their tempo from start to finish, using their 3-point shooting and rebounding against the Mocs.

The size and strength and talent difference was obvious with the No. 3 Badgers in control at halftime, 52-21. Wisconsin yielded no points in transition to Chattanooga and held the Mocs to shoot 18-for-56 from the field.

“They can create some chaos, and that’s what they advertise,” head coach Bo Ryan said of Chattanooga’s game plan. “I thought our guys stayed really solid.”

UW finished with four starters in double figures, led by Sam Dekker with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting. The Badgers hit eight of their 18 attempts from 3-point range, including five of their first six.

Wisconsin also got a second-straight double-double from Frank Kaminsky and the first for Nigel Hayes. Both scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds (Hayes had 13). Overall, UW held the 49-21 advantage on the boards, including 11-3 on the offensive glass to improve to 2-0.

Hayes was a big factor after scoring just six points against Northern Kentucky. He was active all over the offensive end, including his first career 3-pointer. But he also drove to the basket with ease, using his size advantage, while making 6-of-9 free throws.

“I was really impressed with Nigel Hayes,” Chattanooga head coach Will Wade said. “You can tell just watching film on him, he’s trimmed up, he’s a tremendous player. I know (Sam) Dekker and (Frank) Kaminsky get a lot of press, but I like Hayes.”

After scoring just 61 points in its opener, Wisconsin scored 89 points on 53 percent shooting from the field (32-for-60), while getting 42 points in the paint and 16 points off the bench.

- Erik Lewis, BadgerNation.com

Last Meeting

ASHWAUBENON - The outside shot wasn’t there and it seemed like every other shot attempt from the low block was being blocked or altered. The defense was suspect along with some of the box outs, allowing open looks and uncontested drives to the lane, and saw a player go 13-for-26 from the floor.

And yet, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team found a way again.

“We’ve got a young team, but we’ve guys who’ve been through games like these before,” said junior Treavon Jackson, as No.20 Wisconsin, despite a game-high 32 points from Green Bay junior Keifer Sykes, escaped with a 69-66 victory in front of 9,906 at the Resch Center, a program record. “We’re able to handle adversity when it comes.”

A hero has seemed to step up every night for Wisconsin (3-0), which survived its first road test despite shooting 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range, committing more turnovers (10) than assists (9) and missing three free throws (not including a lane violation) in the final 2:14 to allow Green Bay (1-1) to have a pulse.

In the opener it was Josh Gasser’s 19 points; against No.11 Florida it was Sam Dekker’s spark and Jackson’s late jumper. This time it was Frank Kaminsky against the Phoenix.

Despite starting 1-for-5 from the floor, pushing him to 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) to start the season, Kaminsky went 5-for-7 for 14 points over the final 12-plus minutes. He scored nine points on a 17-4 run, erasing Green Bay’s largest lead at 50-43 with 11:30 remaining.

“We need that from him,” said Gasser. “He’s a vocal player in our offense. He’s one the guys we depend on. He’s the go-to-true big. We wanted to get him the ball the whole game and we finally got something going with him. He made some big plays, and he needed it.”

And the Badgers led from that point on thanks in large part to Kaminsky. After Jackson went 1-for-2 from the line, giving UW a two-point lead with 10.9 seconds left, Sykes drove from the right baseline, but Kaminsky registered one of his four second-half blocks and went to the line with 4.3 seconds left.

“I just didn’t want to let my teammates down,” said Kaminsky. “I just tried whatever I could do to get a win.”

Kaminsky made the first, was whistled for a lane violation on the second and celebrated with his teammates after Sykes’ 3-point shot bounced off the front iron and harmlessly to the court.

“We knew Green Bay was a phenomenal team,” said Gasser. “This is the game when I first looked at the schedule was going to be a really tough game because watching them over the years, playing them over the years, they’re really good … We found a way to make enough plays.”

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

Wisconsin and Green Bay have played every year since 1999.

UW is 60-3 all-time vs. teams in the Horizon League. UW will also play at Milwaukee on Dec. 10.

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is 12-1 against Green Bay as the head coach of the Badgers and 15-3 overall (including a 3-2 mark while serving as the head coach at Milwaukee).

In the Ryan era, Green Bay is averaging 58.4 points per game against UW and has scored more than 62 points just twice (2009 and 2013).

Under Ryan, the Badgers have a 32-6 (.842) record in the in-state round-robin with Marquette, Milwaukee and Green Bay.

Green Bay’s last win against a ranked team came against Wisconsin at the Resch Center on Dec. 9, 2009, when the Phoenix knocked off No. 23 Wisconsin 88-84 in overtime. Green Bay last played a top-10 team was in 2007-08, when the Phoenix played both No. 7 Michigan State (Dec. 29, 2007) and No. 10 Butler (Feb. 9, 2008). The last meeting against a top-5 opponent was on Dec. 6, 1996 at No. 5 Kentucky.

Wisconsin Notes

The Badgers out-scored Chattanooga 10-0 on fast-break points and 15-2 in points off turnovers.

UW had 4 players score in double figures (Dekker 18; Jackson 16; Hayes 15; Kaminsky 15), each of which hit double digits by halftime. Hayes grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, joining Kaminsky (15-10) with a double-double.

Last season Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Nigel Hayes averaged 2.8 rebounds per game. Through two contests this season, the sophomore forward is averaging 11.5 boards per game, tops in the Big Ten among players with two games. He is also averaging 10.5 points in 29.5 minutes per game.

UW out-rebounded the Mocs 49-21. That plus-28 rebounding margin since posting a +35 margin (51- 16) against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 14, 2010.

Green Bay Notes

In the season opener, Sykes scored 22 points to become the tenth player in program history to score 1,500 or more points. With just two points on Wednesday, Sykes will move into ninth place on the program’s scoring list, passing Tom Anderson. With 413 more points, Sykes will move into second place all-time, and with 496 more points, the senior will become the only Phoenix player other than Tony Bennett to reach the 2,000-point club.

The Phoenix went 9-2 in true road games last season, including victories in its past four such games. The record was the program’s best since the 1995-96 team posted a 10-2 record on the road.

Green Bay finish second nationally in blocks per game (7.2) and break the school record with 223. It marked the fourth-straight season that the program had set a single-season record for blocked shots. Green Bay blocked 12 shots in its season opener. Sophomore newcomer Henry Uwadiae, displaying his 7-foot-5 wingspan, rejected five shots in just six first-half minutes, and seven other players tallied at least one.

Last season, Green Bay tallied 97 dunks in 31 games, an average of 3.1 per contest. Greg Mays totaled a team-high 36 dunks while Sykes tallied 26. The Phoenix had eight different players record at least one dunk during the season.

Mays had the best season of his career in 2013-14, averaging 10.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and one block per game. On the strength of finishing around the rim and an improved jump shot, Mays ranked fourth in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.586).

Prediction

A highly-ranked freshman coming into a program full of good guards, Bronson Koenig didn’t know what his role was going to be a year ago. He knew he was definitely behind starters Ben Brust and Gasser and figured he’d have to fight for minutes with sophomore George Marshall and Zak Showalter.

That was when the dominoes started to fall. Showalter decided to use his redshirt season and Marshall suffered a concussion in practice before the team’s third game of the season, a pivotal true road game in Green Bay against a talented Phoenix team.

Having just one minute of college experience, Koenig didn’t miss a beat off the bench. He scored seven points (3-for-3), registered two assists, a steal and a block in 23 minutes in a big road victory.

“I use that as motivation and experience from last year and try to carry that over,” said Koenig. “Green Bay was the first game where I really played like myself.”

That was a glimpse into what turned into a special first season for Koenig, who had multiple big games for Wisconsin on some big stages. He scored 12 points in a key road win at Iowa, 14 points (4-for-4 from 3-point range) against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament and 11 points in the first half in the national semifinals against Kentucky.

All those things have allowed the sophomore to become more consistent and mature approach from the team’s future point guard.

“Not that he was immature in a bad way, but he’s more confidence in himself,” said associate head coach Greg Gard. “He’s more assured of what he’s doing, and he understands what we want. He can just cut it loose and play and not have to worry about if he’s making a mistake or if he’s doing what is supposed to be done. I think he’ll continue to take steps forward in that regard.”

Strength in the weight room was a big offseason key, but so was improving lateral movement. Putting a major focus on defense since the summer before his senior year in high school, Koenig got a glimpse of the strides he needed to make during the 15.5 minutes he averaged in 37 games last season.

“Having an experience knowing Coach Ryan’s defensive schemes, I feel like I’ll be a lot better on defense,” said Koenig. “I felt last year toward the end of the year the game slowed down for me.”

Koenig’s emergence gives Wisconsin a lot of options from a lineup perspective. While the Badgers have decided to go big through the first two games of the season with the starting lineup, Koenig and the guard depth behind him allow the Badgers to play smaller and quicker.

“We can go big or small depending on matchups,” said Koenig. “We have a lot of tools and weapons.”

Those weapons will be needed tonight against Green Bay and Sykes, who the Badgers saw up close and personal last season.

Sykes scored in bunches and came out hot at the start of both halves. He scored the eight of the first 11 points in each half for the Phoenix, the latter of which spurred a 10-1 run to give Green Bay a 39-37 lead. Thanks in large part to Sykes’ 32 points, Green Bay lead by seven midway through the second half until UW chipped back into the game.

“He’s a great player,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan of Sykes. “Everything that was on our scouting report he did. Sometimes a player that wants to do so much, sometimes maybe you can catch him if he’s getting off on his shot a little bit, but he was pretty consistent. We didn’t get him off by much.”

The preseason Horizon League player of the year, Sykes averaged 25.6 points against NCAA Tournament teams last year and became the first player in program history to earn a spot on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50. He’s a big reason why the Phoenix got 32 of 41 first-place votes to win the Horizon League title for a season straight year.

Sykes will get his points, but the key for Wisconsin is making it tough on him and taking away his teammates. UW did that last year with Kaminsky shutting down Alec Brown (2 points on 1-for-5) and the holding all other players under double figures. That UW team was also young and needed to replace five seniors. It’s quite the opposite this year.

Wisconsin puts forth a better defensive effort, will hold Sykes under 20 and win by 22.

Worgull's Record:2-0

Points off Prediction: 19 (9.5 per game)


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