Breakdown: Nicholls State vs No.5 Wisconsin

After back-to-back road victories, No.5 Wisconsin returns home to host Nicholls State at the Kohl Center Saturday afternoon, hoping to go into a lengthy nine-day break with its 10th win of the season. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

Nicholls State (1-4, 0-0 Southland) vs. No.5 Wisconsin (9-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, December 13, 2 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,279)

Television -Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler and Bob Wenzel)

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

Series – First Meeting

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 78-52, on December 11, 2013 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 11.7 ppg)

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

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 11.3 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.5 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 16.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 3.1 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 7.0 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 4.9 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 3.6 ppg)

Nicholls State Probable Starters

12 Richie Lewis (6-0 Sophomore Guard 6.4 ppg)

14 Ja’Dante’ Frye (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 10.6 ppg)

15 Sam McBeath (6-7 Junior Forward, 4.8 ppg)

22 T.J. Carpenter (6-4 Junior Guard, 10.4 ppg)

24 Liam Thomas (6-10 Sophomore Center, 7.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Amin Torres (6-0 Junior Guard, 11.4 ppg)

23 Quinton Thomas (5-11 Freshman Guard, 5.0 ppg)

32 Jamarkus Horace (6-6 Junior Forward, 4.2 ppg)

44 Luka Kamber (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 7.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

MILWAUKEE — No.5 Wisconsin, reverting to a form more becoming of a top-five team, shot the lights out against the Panthers, connecting at a 61 percent clip in a 93-54 victory over Milwaukee in front of an announced crowd of 10,120.

“I don’t remember the last time I saw a Wisconsin team score 93 points,” said Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter, who played for and served as an assistant under Badgers coach Bo Ryan. “And I was on the sidelines for some of those games.”

A week ago, Wisconsin (9-1) shot 41 percent in an 80-70 loss to Duke and then Saturday, the Badgers made just 32 percent of their shots in an ugly victory over Marquette.

“We didn’t shoot ball well against Marquette but we came in here and shot the lights out,” said senior center Frank Kaminsky, whose game-high 18 points was one of four Badgers in double figures. “It’s just one of those things, when the ball starts going in, everyone sees it go in and it starts spiraling like that.”

The Badgers got off to something of a slow start, missing their first four shots before Kaminsky, who missed his first three, finally put Wisconsin on the board with a layup at the 17:07 mark and the Badgers would make six of their next ten.

The Badgers led, 8-0, after a Kaminsky layup with 15:41 left in the half but Panthers responded with seven in a row to make it a one-point game.

That would be the closest Milwaukee would get the rest of the way.

Sam Dekker answered with a layup and after a Panthers miss, knocked down a 3-pointer as Wisconsin went on a 10-2 run that put them up, 18-9 midway through the half.

Hobbled last week by a tender ankle, Dekker looked healed after scoring 15 of his 17 in the first half and Kaminsky had 12 of his points in the opening half, as the Badgers shot 56.3 percent and connected on 4 of 8 from long-range.

As good as they were in the first, they were even better in the second half, making 21 of 32 shots and four more 3-pointers.

“It was nice to see the ball go through the net,” Ryan said. “We made some shots we weren’t hitting Saturday and they just happened to go into night. We had good ball movement; I thought our guys really shared the ball well.”

Matt Tiby scored 17 to lead Milwaukee (4-6), which shot 35 percent from the field and was dominated in the paint, 46-18.

-Andrew Wagner, Special to BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

The Badgers are 3-0 all-time vs. teams from the Southland Conference. The last such meeting was an 87-47 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 11, 2012.

The Badgers and Colonels have one common opponent this season. Nicholls lost at Michigan, 91-62, on Nov. 29. Wisconsin will travel to Michigan on Jan. 24, 2015.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin is 199-22 (.900) at the Kohl Center under Bo Ryan, owning the 4th-highest home win percentage in that span (since 2001-02). That includes a mark of 102-8 (.927) in nonconference games at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers lead the Big Ten and rank 8th in the nation allowing just 52.6 points per game. UW has held 6 of its 10 opponents to a season-low scoring output.

After being hobbled by an ankle injury for the past few games, Sam Dekker returned to form scoring 17 points in 20 min. at Milwaukee. He is averaging 11.3 ppg and shooting 52.4 percent on the year.

Wisconsin has already posted five wins over teams ranked in the top 100 of the NCAA’s official RPI. That figure is tied with Kansas, LSU and Old Dominion for the most in nation. Wisconsin is set to play California (83) and Buffalo (18) to wrap up nonconference play.

Just the third AP Preseason All-American in UW history, Frank Kaminsky is living up to the hype. The senior forward leads the Badgers in points (16.6), rebounds (8.4), blocks (21), steals (12) and FG percentage (.539). He is also 2nd on the team in 3FG% (.424) and 3rd in assists (21).

Nicholls State Notes

The Colonels were tabbed to finish eighth in the 13-team Southland Conference in both the Coaches and SID preseason polls. Nicholls returns 10 letterwinners and three starters after finishing seventh in the league last season. The Colonels have participated in six straight Southland Conference Tournaments - the best streak in program history.

Nicholls will have to replace its top two scorers from 2013-14 in Dantrell Thomas and Jeremy Smith, who both finished among the Southland’s top 20 in points per game. Thomas averaged 15.9 points, and Smith wasn’t far behind with 13.9.

Nicholls is not shying away from anyone in the opening months of the season. The Colonels faced North Texas (Nov. 17), UCLA (Nov. 20), Wake Forest (Nov. 24) and No. 19 Michigan (Nov. 29) on a four-game road swing before returning home to host Loyola (Dec. 6).

Nicholls head coach J.P. Piper (112- 186) is entering his 11th season at the helm in Thibodaux, La., and is just the fourth skipper in school history to coach at least nine seasons at the school.

In its lone win this season vs. Loyola, Nicholls had a 56-28 advantage in points in the paint, a 10-6 advantage in points off turnovers, a 20-12 advantage in second chance points, a 6-2 advantage in fast break points and a 37-29 advantage in points off the bench.

Prediction

The Wisconsin offense put on a shooting clinic against Milwaukee and the numbers from the field showed for it, as Wisconsin shot a season-high 60.9 percent from the field and a season-best 50 percent (8-for-16) from 3-point range. It was the fifth time this year Wisconsin has shot above 50 percent from the field.

Wisconsin already has a distinct advantage over the majority of teams on its schedule that it’s almost unfair when the Badgers shoot at the clip they unleashed on the Panthers Wednesday. Four Badgers scored in double figures, including Kaminsky leading the team in points for a sixth time this season and a healthy Dekker returning to the lineup and be overwhelming productive in the first half. Against smaller teams, Wisconsin’s ball movement helps set up quality shots, which is what happened Wednesday and will likely happen Saturday afternoon.

The size and length of Wisconsin also is a lethal weapon against unprepared teams. The Panthers shot 18-for-52 (34.6 percent) from the field last time out, turned the ball over 14 times and Wisconsin held Steve McWhorter, who came into the game leading the Panthers in scoring, to six points on 2-for-7 shooting. That’s a receipt for disaster against any team, especially a disciplined Wisconsin squad.

Panthers and Nicholls State are similar in that they are two struggling programs that lack size, meaning a familiar result is likely. If Wisconsin can shoot a decent percentage, continue to touch the post (UW had 46 points in the paint Wednesday) and control the pace, this one will get ugly in a hurry. Badgers by 40.

Worgull's Record: 9-1

Points off Prediction: 80 (8.0 per game)


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