Breakdown: UAB vs. No.2 Wisconsin

Dominant in its first four games, No.2 Wisconsin looks to take its show on the road to the Bahamas in the three-day Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, starting this evening against UAB. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

UAB (2-2, 0-0 Conference USA) vs. No.2 Wisconsin (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Wednesday, November 26, 6 p.m. Central

Arena –Imperial Arena, Atlantis Resort

Television -AXS TV (Kenny Rice, Seth Davis and Tom Walsh)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Phil Dawson and Andy North)

Series – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 15.3 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 10.0 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 14.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.3 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 19.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.5 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 5.0 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 3.0 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 4.3 ppg)

UAB Probable Starters

0 Hakeem Baxter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 8.0 ppg)

2 Nick Norton (5-10 Freshman Guard, 6.3 ppg)

4 Robert Brown (6-5 Junior Guard, 10.0 ppg)

21 Tosin Mehinti (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 9.5 ppg)

25 C.J. Washington (6-8 Senior Forward, 11.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Denzel Watts (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 1.3 ppg)

3 Chris Cokley (6-8 Freshman Forward, 7.8 ppg)

22 Tyler Madison (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 12.5 ppg)

35 Lewis Sullivan (6-7 Freshman Forward, 3.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

MADISON- Even in late night, No.3 Wisconsin still continues to hum right along.

The peculiar tip time of 9 p.m. didn’t seem to bother the Badgers one bit, as Wisconsin shot over 50 percent from the floor for the third straight game to cruise in the second half to a 78-54 victory over Boise State Saturday.

Finishing off its season opening home stand perfect, Wisconsin (4-0) is winning by an average of 30.7 points per game and relied on its All-American center to do much of the heavy lifting.

Senior Frank Kaminsky was key in sparking Wisconsin’s 16-6 run in the first half, as he scored 17 of his team-high 26 points before halftime. Kaminsky got the run started by knocking down his third 3-pointer or the game and finished the last five minutes of the half with seven points, one rebound, and a steal.

“Frank just keeps playing, keeps working at it every day,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “It’s just an example of a guy being committed to what he’s doing...His whole attitude now as he’s matured, physically and mentally, as a player, he’s able to handle all that.

”It’s awfully nice to have a big that can make good decisions and that can help defensively. His all-around game just keeps getting better.”

Wisconsin shot 62.5 percent (15-for-24) from the field in the first half, put three players in double figures and built its lead to as large as 27 points thanks in part to Kaminsky going 11-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

“It just goes along with versatility,” Kaminsky said about his ability to play inside or out. “They were double teaming on the post and it wasn’t working, so I’m going to try and post up and look for someone else or try and take it out to the perimeter. They left me open a couple of times and I was able to knock it down.”

When the Broncos (3-1) chose to try and slow down Kaminsky on the offensive end, the Badgers made them pay as they were able to find ways to get open shots, especially Nigel Hayes and Traevon Jackson, who scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Jackson recorded a season-high five assists to two turnovers and did most of his damage in the second half going 4-for-5 from the field.

The Broncos extra attention to Kaminsky allowed Hayes the freedom to do damage in the low post and get to the free throw line, as he was the only Badgers player to attempt free throws and finished 6-for-6.

It also resulted in the Badgers having balanced scoring with the bench scoring a season-high 19 points, but paid the biggest benefit to Kaminsky, who has scored back-to-back 20-point games for just the second time in his career.

While Wisconsin’s main scorer was getting his points, the Badgers made life challenging for Anthony Drmic, who was averaging 20.7 points a game but finished with a season-low seven points on 3-for-10 shooting because senior Josh Gasser pestered him all night.

- Brian Becker, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

The Badgers are 7-3 against teams from Conference USA.

UW’s most recent contest with a member of Conference USA was a 79-63 home win over Florida International on Dec. 2, 2006.

Wednesday is the first time UAB has faced a ranked opponent since Dec. 1, 2013, when the Blazers knocked off then No. 16 North Carolina, 63-59, at Bartow Arena. The last time UAB won a game against a ranked opponent on a neutral court was March 21, 2004, when the Blazers defeated then No. 1 Kentucky, 76-75, in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament. The Blazers advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 that year, before falling to Kansas.

UAB faced a member of the Big Ten Conference last season, knocking off Nebraska, 87-74, in the Charleston Classic.

Wisconsin Notes

Including last season’s perfect 13-0 start to the season, Wisconsin has now won 20 consecutive regular-season non-conference games. That streak includes wins over: Cal, St. John’s, Florida, Saint Louis, West Virginia, Virginia and Marquette among others.

Under Bo Ryan (since 2001-02), Wisconsin owns an overall record of 135-30 (.818) in nonconference games, including a mark of 102-7 (.936) at the Kohl Center.

UW has out-rebounded each of its first 4 opponents by an average of 14.9 boards per game, the largest rebounding margin in the Big Ten.

UW is shooting 52.6 percent from the field compared to just 34.1 percent for its opponents. The Badgers have connected on at least 50 percent of their shots in each of the last 3 games and their overall offensive FG percentage ranks 19th in the nation.

Wisconsin went 16-5 away from home, going 8-2 at neutral sites and 8-3 in road venues. The Badgers’ 16 road/neutral wins was the highest single-season total in school history, surpassing 15 road/neutral wins in 2007-08.

UAB Notes

UAB’s defense has led the Blazers through the first four games, forcing 74 opponent turnovers so far this season. Blazer opponents average 18.5 turnovers per contest, while UAB averages 13.8, for a +4.8 turnover margin. UAB has forced 20-plus turnovers in the last two games, including 27 against Jackson State -- the highest turnover output by a Blazer opponent since 2006.

UAB has relied on its bench through the first four games of the season. The Blazers’ bench has outscored opponents 103-53 in the first four games, including a 23-8 advantage against ULM and 35-5 advantage vs. Young Harris. Sophomore guard Tyler Madison, who is not a usual starter for the Blazers, leads the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game.

Highly-touted freshman William Lee has played in back-to-back games after missing the first two games of the season due to injury. Lee, Alabama’s 2014 High School Mr. Basketball and 2014 Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year, has played 26 minutes and recorded five rebounds in the last two games.

Mehinti, who played in each of UAB’s 31 games last season, put together perhaps the two best performances of his young UAB career in back-to-back games to begin the 2014-15 season. Mehinti scored career highs in each contest with 15 points against ULM followed by 19 vs. Young Harris. He added 10 rebounds against the Warhawks to give him the first double-double of his career.

Prediction

In a loaded tournament field with five teams currently receiving votes in the latest AP poll, including two in the top five, Wisconsin’s first game should be like an extra day of vacation.

Wisconsin returns seven of its top eight scorers from last year’s team that finished 30-8 and advanced to the 2014 Final Four. UW loses only guard Ben Brust (12.9 ppg), but brings back 81.9 percent of minutes and 81.9 percent of points.

UAB lost four starters off of last year’s team and an average of 43.4 points per game, requiring a boat load of young talent to step up to the plate. With 10 players who are either freshmen or sophomores on UAB’s roster, the Blazers have a combined seven years of division 1 basketball experience, making them one of the youngest teams in college basketball.

Brown – two years at Virginia Tech – and Washington – one year at UAB - are the “veterans” on the team, which has meant the Blazers’ newcomers have accounted for 53 percent of their scoring this season.

Brown could test Wisconsin after coming off two-straight double-digit scoring efforts as will Nick Norton, who leads Conference USA in assists with 6.5 per game. The Blazers haven’t play a tough schedule either, beating Young Harris College and Jackson State and losing to Louisiana-Monroe and USF.

It’s not a question of it, but how much will Wisconsin win by. I think the Badgers’ suffocating defense and balanced scoring leads to a 38-point win.

Worgull's Record:4-0

Points off Prediction: 22 (5.5 per game)


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