No.5 Wisconsin (8-1, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Milwaukee (4-5, 0-0 Horizon)
Date/Time -Wednesday, December 10, 8 p.m. Central
Arena –UWM-Panthers Arena (10,111)
Television -ESPN2 (Bob Wischusen and LaPhonso Ellis)
Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)
Series – Wisconsin leads 30-1 (Wisconsin leads 10-0 in Milwaukee)
Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 78-52, on December 11, 2013 in Madison
Wisconsin Probable Starters
10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 11.6 ppg)
12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 10.1 ppg)
15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 10.7 ppg)
21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.7 ppg)
44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 16.4 ppg)
Off the Bench
3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.7 ppg)
13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 7.1 ppg)
24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 4.3 ppg)
30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 3.3 ppg)
Milwaukee Probable Starters
2 Akeem Springs (6-4 Sophomore Guard 6.6 ppg)
23 J.J. Panoske (6-10 Junior Forward, 6.4 ppg)
25 Steve McWhorter (6-2 Senior Guard, 16.2 ppg)
30 J.R. Lyle (6-2 Junior Guard, 9.0 ppg)
31 Matt Tiby (6-8 Junior Forward, 7.8 ppg)
Off the Bench
5 Cody Wichmann (6-5 Sophomore Guard, 8.2 ppg)
13 Justin Jordan (6-3 Freshman Guard, 5.7 ppg)
15 Trinson White (6-5 Junior Guard, 4.3 ppg)
50 Brett Prahl (6-9 Freshman Forward, 3.2 ppg)
Last Time Out
Holding the Golden Eagles to its worst offensive performance on the season, the Badgers grinded their way to a 49-38 win inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the fewest points Wisconsin has allowed against Marquette since Wisconsin’s 60-34 win in 1948.
Marquette’s offense isn’t what Duke’s offense is, but Wisconsin (8-1) held Marquette to 13-for-45 (28.9 percent) from the field, and three critical scoring droughts of at least five minutes, two of them coming in the first half.
"I think just bringing it every night,” senior guard Josh Gasser said about the team’s defensive performance against Marquette. “Defensively we're still not quite there but today we were pretty good."
While the droughts in the first half helped the Badgers build their lead, the shutdown performance in the second half occurred when Wisconsin needed the most, stifling Marquette momentum as the Golden Eagles cut a 10-point halftime deficit to two points.
After Sandy Cohen cut the Wisconsin lead to two, Marquette (4-4) went without another point for six minutes and 21 seconds until Matt Carlino (game-high 18 points) stopped the drought by hitting a three with 2:36 remaining. By that time, Wisconsin had built an eight-point lead that never fell below two possessions the rest of the game.
Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin in scoring with 15 points and 10 rebounds, recording his fourth double-double on the year. Gasser was second with 12 points, as the two combined to shoot 9-for-18 from the field. The rest of the team went 8-for-34 from the field.
Despite shooting 32.7 percent from the field (17-for-52), the shots Wisconsin took were high quality shots. It was Gasser (4-for-8 from three) and Kaminsky who were able to knock down a couple of critical threes to help either stop a run by Marquette or help ice the game.
-Brian Becker, BadgerNation.com
Tying the 1993-94 Wisconsin team for the most consecutive wins to open the season in the modern era and sweeping the three game in-state series for the first time since 2010 wasn’t in doubt for very long, especially after Brust started his hot shooting to propel UW to a 78-52 victory over Milwaukee.
Wisconsin started auspiciously with three turnovers in the first 2:22 and was held scoreless in a flat start, but the Badgers turned on the shooting display from that point forward to finish 64 percent from the floor (16 of 25) and 69.2 percent (9 of 13) from 3-point range in the first half.
Brust, who quietly upped his scoring average to 12.0 points per game, scored 13 straight points for the Badgers over a 4:01 span to help build a 25-point first-half lead for the home team.
“Ben is one of those guys that can get hot real quick and change the whole complexion of the whole game because he’s such a sharp shooter,” said Dekker. “When he gets hot, you better watch out.”
Brust finished the first half 6-for-6 from the floor and 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes, but finished 7-for-13 for the game.
“It would have been nice to keep that rhythm,” said Brust. “Shot the ball well pretty early, and then it kind of died off for us in the second half. Felt good early on.”
Up 22-13 more than midway through the first half, the rest of the team followed Brust’s lead. Wisconsin reeled off a 23-7 run that featured five 3-pointers by five Badgers to blow the game open, never letting the lead dip below 18.
Frank Kaminksy added 16 points, Traevon Jackson scored 12 while Dekker finished two rebounds shy of his third double-double in four games, scoring 12 points (5 of 8) while adding a career-high six assists.
“The closer we can get to 40 minutes of playing good basketball the better we’re going to be,” said Dekker. “I think tonight we got a little closer.”
Milwaukee (9-3) entered the night tied with Harvard with six road/neutral wins, the most in the nation, but the Panthers committed six turnovers in their first 16 possessions and started 2 of 10 from the field. Kyle Kelm scored 17 points to lead Milwaukee, while Matt Tiby added 11, but the Panthers couldn’t overcome 19 turnovers, tying a season high.
-Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com
Outside the Big Ten, UW has faced only Marquette (121) more frequently than UWM. The Badgers have won 21 consecutive in this series.
Under Bo Ryan, UW is 13-0 vs. the Panthers, including a mark of 3-0 in Milwaukee. Last season, the Badgers beat UWM, 78-52, at the Kohl Center.
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.
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 1991national 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.
When Ryan and Jeter have teamed up on the same side, they own a record of 339-87 (.796).
Milwaukee has a pair of former UW assistants on its staff. Assistant Duffy Conroy spent four seasons working for Bo Ryan as a video coordinator and director of basketball operations (2000-03 and 2004-05). Sharif Chambliss also spent 4 seasons in Madison, playing for Coach Ryan (2004-05) and working as the video coordinator (2011-12).
In 14 seasons under Ryan, the Badgers have a 34-7 (.829) record in the in-state round-robin with Marquette (8-6), Milwaukee (13-0) and Green Bay (13-1).
UW is looking for its second straight in-state sweep since 2010. The Badgers have swept the round robin in 6 of the last 13 seasons.
With a record of 20-5 in road/neutral games over the last 2 seasons, UW is tied for the most wins away from home among major conference teams. The Badgers’ .800 win pct. is 2nd among “major” teams.
UW plays tough defense (8th in the nation allowing just 52.4 ppg), doesn’t foul (7th in the nation at 14.2 fouls per game), doesn’t turn it over (4th in the nation with 9.3 turnovers per game) and is efficient on offense (25th in the nation at 1.15 points per possession).
The Badgers have won 47 consecutive regular season, non-conference games against unranked teams. The last time UW lost to a team that was not ranked in the AP poll was a 58-51 defeat to Notre Dame at the 2010 Old Spice Classic (11/28/10).
UW leads the Big Ten allowing just 52.4 points per game. Opponents are shooting 39.1 percent and just 32.8 percent on 3FGs.
Milwaukee seeks its first win over a ranked opponent since knocking off No. 21 Butler, 63-60, on February 18, 2009.
Defense has keyed the Panthers' wins this season as they are surrendering only 55.2 ppg and limiting opponents to just 35 percent (81-for-231) from the field. In defeats, those figures jump to 77.4 ppg, and 48 percent (122-for-256) from the field.
McWhorter is putting up 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.7 spg and 0.8 bpg this season and is attempting to become the first Panther since Clay Tucker in 2001-02 (17.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg) to lead the team in scoring, rebounding and assists in the same season.
Tiby appears to be back on track after a bit of a slow start. Over the last pair of outings, the 6-foot-8 forward is pitching in 9.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.0 apg and 1.0 spg after managing 7.3 ppg and 4.7 rpg through the first seven contests.
Freshman guard Justin Jordan brings some interesting bloodlines to the Milwaukee program. The Davidson, N.C., native is the son of Larry Jordan and the nephew of former NBA great, six-time NBA champion, Hall of Famer and current Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan.
The Gasser clan has racked up the travel miles to bring the party all around the country, the continent and the northern hemisphere the last few years. Not only are Gasser’s parents at virtually every home and road game, the extended family turns the group into a large traveling party when it comes time for Wisconsin to play its holiday tournaments.
The Gassers have evidently been good luck charms with Wisconsin winning nonconference tournaments in back-to-back years, first at Cancun and most recently in the Bahamas. And while it’s been all well and good having the party come to him, the senior admits it’s nice for his parents to hop on I-43 and make quick drive to Milwaukee to save some cash.
“A good 20 minute drive,” Gasser joked, “so that’s nice for them finally.”
So nice that the Badgers are doing it twice in a four day span. Wanting to free up space for future scheduling, Wisconsin flipped its road game against the Panthers in 2015 to tonight, giving the Badgers three true road games in the nonconference slate and a pair back-to-back, something head coach Bo Ryan said no power five conference school can claim this season.
“It’s really hard to win on the road against anyone you are playing, much less an in-state rival,” said Gasser. “Every game in my career on the road it’s been tough. Three years ago at UWM we won by six. Last year at Green Bay we won by three. At Marquette is always a battle. It’s just fun games to be a part of. Everyone wants to win it. The crowds are always into it. That’s what makes it fun.”
Gasser had a lot of fun Saturday in Wisconsin’s 11-point win at Marquette, hitting four clutch 3-pointers to stop scoring runs by the Golden Eagles or put some pep back into Wisconsin’s step in a raucous environment.
“It’s great to play at home; you make a shot or get a shot and the crowd goes wild,” said Gasser. “It’s also fun when you can do those same things and silent a crowd. In road games it’s you against the world pretty much, just us 16 guys and the coaches against everyone else in the building. That’s pretty fun.”
The fifth-year senior isn’t the biggest producer among Wisconsin’s starting lineup (averaging 6.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and has 17 assists), but Gasser’s production has been timely. He has hit 13-of-28 (.464) 3-point attempts on the year and made 18-of-40 (.450) shots overall.
More importantly he’s a two-time All-Big Ten defensive team selection and durable, despite going through major knee surgery two years ago. Gasser has appeared in all 117 games of his career, including 113 starts. He is currently on pace to set UW records for games (138) and starts (126).
“H's just such a delight to have as a player when you're coaching, because he just goes hard in every practice, every possession, he dives for balls in practice,” said Ryan “(He’s) never cheated out of anything in life that I know of. He's quite an inspiration for our guys.”
Needing just 149 points, 43 rebounds and 25 assists to join Michael Finley as the only two Badgers to post 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists, Gasser was one of the steady influences for the Badgers last week after dropping their first game of the season against then-No.4 Duke.
He’ll be counted on again tonight in what will be a sold out UWM-Panthers Arena for the Panthers’ biggest game this season, especially since Milwaukee is ineligible for the postseason due to a poor Academic Progress Report.
“Milwaukee is going to be amped up, the crowd is going to be into it, the players are going to be into it and that’s the games you want to be in,” said Gasser. “You don’t want to be in the games where there’s 5,000 people watching, and they’re sitting down clapping. You want to be a part of a great atmosphere.”
I think Wisconsin shoots the ball better than the two previous games, takes advantage of an undersized Panthers team and the Badgers win by 25 on the road.
Worgull's Record: 8-1
Points off Prediction: 66 (7.3 per game)