Breakdown: No.25 Iowa vs. No.6 Wisconsin

Sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig has stepped right into the starting lineup to help No.6 Wisconsin stay on top of the Big Ten standings. He'll be key again tonight when another first place team - No.25 Iowa - comes to Madison. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

No.25 Iowa (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten) vs. No.6 Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Tuesday, January 20, 8 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,279)

Television -ESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Sam Ponder)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 80-79 (Wisconsin leads 51-28 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 79-74, on February 22, 2014 in Iowa City

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.3 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 12.3 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.2 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 5.2 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 17.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.6 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 6.4 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.8 ppg)

Iowa Probable Starters

3 Peter Jok (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 6.2 ppg)

10 Mike Gesell (6-2 Junior Guard, 7.0 ppg)

20 Jarrod Uthoff (6-9 Junior Forward, 11.8 ppg)

30 Aaron White (6-9 Senior Forward, 16.1 ppg)

34 Adam Woodbury (7-1 Junior Center, 7.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Gabriel Olaseni (6-10 Senior Center, 8.9 ppg)

2 Josh Oglesby (6-5 Senior Guard, 3.8 ppg)

5 Anthony Clemmons (6-2 Junior Guard, 4.9 ppg)

Last Meeting

IOWA CITY, Iowa - No.16 Wisconsin never folded when the vice was tightened in the second half, resulting in the Badgers delivering another eye-popping resume win with a 79-74 victory at No.15 Iowa.

Winning at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time in three years, Wisconsin (22-5, 9-5 Big Ten) has won five straight, are 7-2 against Top25 teams, have eight top-50 RPI wins and are 10-2 away from home, not bad for a team that everybody forgot about last month.

“People were writing us off, saying the sky is falling and stuff, but you’ve just got to stick with it,” said Sam Dekker, who registered his second straight double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. “It’s basketball. It happens, but now we’ve got on a little bit of a roll here.”

Behind Frank Kaminsky’s 21 points and 12 each from Gasser and Bronson Koenig, the Badgers didn’t blink when they saw a double-digit lead evaporate.

“They just stuck with it,” said UW coach Bo Ryan. “… Our guys had plenty of energy. Our guys aren’t looking for excuses. They aren’t looking for anybody to feel sorry for them. They just play.”

In a second half that saw eight lead changes over the final 11 minutes, it appeared that Iowa (19-7, 8-5) was going to take control multiple times, especially with a little over six minutes remaining. Kaminsky, who had made so many stellar post moves throughout the game, missed a short post shot inside, leading to a transition bucket for Iowa, giving the Hawkeyes their largest lead in the second half at 62-58.

“In the second half we unfortunately let it slip away a little bit,” said Gasser, who made three 3-pointers in a seven minute stretch of the second half that gave UW the instant offense it needed, “but then we made a couple big plays to stay with them.”

After guard Josh Oglseby hit a jumper to give Iowa a 68-66 lead, Gasser buried a 3-pointer to put UW up one with 2:48 to go. The answers continued. After former UW player Jarrod Uthoff delivered a baseline runner with 2:11 to go, freshman Bronson Koenig notched his career-high 12th point on a jumper with 1:21 remaining.

Oglesby, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half delivered another jumper off a low-post ball screen to put Iowa up 72-71 with 61 seconds remaining, but Kaminsky took over from there. He answered with a jumper with 37.1 seconds left that gave Wisconsin a one-point lead, and then stripped Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble on a drive to the basket and hit two free throws as the Badgers went up 75-72 with 24.5 seconds left.

Marble had 21 points and 11 assists for the Hawkeyes, who lost their third home game in four tries. Including Kaminsky’s two free throws, Wisconsin made its final six free throws, never letting Iowa get closer than three the rest of the game.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Last Time Out

MADISON - Returning to the lineup after a one game absence, center Frank Kaminsky added a couple moves to his repertoire that helped ignite an offense that struggled without him to get by Nebraska, 70-55, Thursday night.

Kaminsky scored a team-high 22 points – making him the 40th player in school history to go over 1,000 points for his career- and added five rebounds for Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten), which remained one of five Big Ten teams with just one loss in the early weeks of the season.

Nigel Hayes scored 13 points, Sam Dekker scored 7 of his 11 in the second half and Bronson Koenig, filling in for the first time for injured guard Traevon Jackson, added 11 points for back-to-back double-digit scoring nights in his first two starts. Duje Dukan also chipped in with all 10 of UW’s bench points

But the story of the night was Kaminsky, who has shown in the past week just how valuable he is to Wisconsin’s game plan. After lingering symptoms from a concussion sustained Jan.7 in a win against Purdue caused him to his first game in two years, Wisconsin’s shooting percentage and post defense dipped in a 67-62 loss at Rutgers Sunday.

Cleared for practice Tuesday, Kaminsky’s presence was evident against the Cornhuskeres (10-7, 2-3) from the get go. He was 6-for-7 from the floor and 3-for-4 from the perimeter in the first half, helping Wisconsin do damage from the interior (UW was 9-for-11 on 2-point shots) and the perimeter (6-for-13).

The senior scored early (eight points in the first eight-plus minutes) and impacted the game late, helping Wisconsin close the first half on a 9-0 run by splashing a 3-pointer and hitting a contested two in the paint.

“Beating a team like Nebraska the way we did is pretty positive and that will give us some confidence going forward,” said Kaminsky. “Bronson stepped up and played really well and ran the offensive very well. We’re excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us.”

Without Kaminsky in the lineup Sunday, the Badgers shot 42.9 percent, including just 37.5 percent in the second-half collapse to the Scarlet Knights.

With the senior back, the Badgers shot 62.5 percent from the floor and 48.4 percent for the game against a Nebraska team that entered the night holding opponents to 37.7 percent shooting from the floor.

Nebraska stayed close in the first half thanks in large part to Terran Petteway, who torched Wisconsin for 26 points in the Huskers’ 77-68 win last season in Lincoln and was doing so again. Petteway had 20 first-half points on 13 shots, including going 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

In the second half Petteway tried to generate more offense among his teammates, which backfired when he was limited to only seven points on seven shots.

With Petteway neutralized, Wisconsin went on a 13-0 run highlighted by a four-play play from Dukan and a 3-pointer from Dekker that caused him to unleash a vibrant scream as soon as the ball passed through the net. That duo combined for 11 points on the run, the final nine coming with Kaminsky on the bench.

The run eventually ballooned to 22-4 thanks to an 8 minute, 59 second field goal drought by the Huskers, who didn’t get any other player above eight points. That included Wisconsin taking away Shavon Shields, who finished with only eight points after he dumped 26 points on the Badgers last year.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

Bo Ryan is 17-7 all-time against the Hawkeyes, including a mark of 10-1 at the Kohl Center.

UW swept the season series with Iowa last year, pulling out a 75-71 win in Madison before escaping Iowa City with a 79-74 win. Both teams were ranked in last season’s two meetings.

Each of the last seven UW vs. Iowa games have been decided by seven points or less with the average margin of victory being just 3.9 points. That includes a pair of overtime contests. The last five meetings overall have been decided by five points or less.

Gasser has scored in double figures in each of his last 4 outings against Iowa, averaging 12.8 ppg.

UW assistant coach Gary Close was an assistant at Iowa from 1986-99.

Iowa junior Jarrod Uthoff spent one season on the Badgers’ roster, redshirting in 2011-12.

Wisconsin Notes

In 14 seasons, Bo Ryan’s teams are 100-14 (.877) against the Big Ten at the Kohl Center.

Kaminsky is the only player in NCAA Div. 1 averaging at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game.

Over the last two seasons, Wisconsin has been among the nation's best against the AP Top 25. Since 2013-14, the Badgers are 8-3 (.727) against ranked teams, owning the 3rd-best winning percentage in the nation.

This year UW is averaging 73.3 points per game and ranks ninth in the nation in offensive efficiency, averaging 1.18 points per possession.

Through five Big Ten games, the Badgers lead the conference averaging 72.8 ppg (Iowa is 2nd at 71.0). Wisconsin opened the conference season scoring 80+ points in back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since 1992.

Iowa Notes

Iowa is 3-0 this season in true road games, winning at No.12 North Carolina, No.18 Ohio State and Minnesota. Iowa became the first team in the country to post road wins over ranked opponents.

Uthoff is the only division 1 player to have over 30 3-pointers, over 25 blocks and over 20 steals.

The Hawkeyes are averaging a double-double out of their center position, as Woodbury and Olaseni combine to average 16 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Iowa is 6-0 this season when hitting at least eight 3-pointers.

White ranks first in the country in highest percentage of points scored from the free throw line (minimum 250 points). The senior has scored 119 of his 290 points (41 percent) from the stripe.

Prediction

Gary Close didn’t sugarcoat things when it came to trying to define the process the Wisconsin men’s basketball team had to go through over the next six weeks without senior guard Traevon Jackson.

It’s a loss. A big one.

“He’s a big part of the team and has been for quite a while,” said Close. “He’s basically just won games and been a very productive point guard. You just have to go with what you’ve been doing.”

That was certainly the approach last Thursday with Koenig in the starting lineup.

Starting to regain the shooting touch that was occasionally missing in some of his opportunities off the bench, Koenig scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, in the Badgers’ 15-point win over Nebraska that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

Making his second consecutive start, the first two of his career, and his first in place of the injured Jackson, Koenig added four rebounds, one assist, one turnover and scored eight of his points in the first half to help Wisconsin take control.

“He passed the test in his first home start,” said Dekker, who has played many games with Koenig dating back to their AAU days. “He did a great job running our offense. He was very poised and looked relaxed out there.

“I know what the kid can do. He can run the show. He can run a team better than most guys in the nation. Having the luxury to fall back on a kid like him when Trae is a great big bonus for our team. I don’t think we’re going to miss a stride with B at the helm.”

After a couple shaky offensive performances, Wisconsin proved, at least for one night, it can deliver a balanced offensive performance without one of their senior leaders.

Five different guys made 3-pointers, including Kaminsky (who was 0-for-6 in B1G play) and the Badgers delivered three dunks, executing a good mix of production.

Koenig didn’t deliver as many assists as usual, but the problems he caused for Nebraska were numerous. Described by Nebraska coach Tim Miles as a kid who hunts jump shots instead of driving in the lane and draws contact (that’s Jackson’s M.O.), Koenig’s game played into the strengths of a Nebraska defense limiting opponents to a 37.7 field goal percentage.

The results were Koenig frustrating starting guard Benny Parker, allowing him to have clear vision of passing lanes to find open teammate or hit jumpers, and also taking advantage of Terran Petteway, who Miles switched on to Koenig in hopes his size would frustrate the sophomore.

In a word, Koenig did what his strengths are and the Huskers still couldn’t take it away from him.

“I thought Bronson did his thing,” said Miles. “He was really good.”

Bo Ryan agreed both by his words and by his actions. Famous for the quick hook following a player’s mistake, Koenig played the entire first half and didn’t get a break until 11 minutes, 8 seconds remained in the second, with UW leading 53-36. His breather lasted all of 37 seconds, and he didn’t come out again until Ryan emptied the bench with 2:25 to play.

“He played well,” Ryan said. “We know he has ability. His teammates know. They trust him. He’s been on the floor in a lot of big situations in his two years here. The guys encouraged him in a way where you don’t overdo it, like ‘Bronson, are you nervous?’

“No, the teammates were good with him. A couple guys kidded him, relaxed him. And he knows what I expect. He’s followed our program forever. He knows what his position is. He knows what it entails. So he did what I thought he would do.”

Like Nebraska, Iowa returns a lot of players from last year’s NCAA tournament team, and the Hawkeyes have been active defensively against opposing guards. In its most recent win over Ohio State, Iowa forced six turnovers from the Buckeyes starting guards, aggressive defense that has Iowa averaging 14 forced turnovers a game and 7.4 steals per game.

“Iowa’s good,” said Close. “When they’re on they’re very impressive. They’ve played a tougher schedule than they’ve played in past to prepare them for this. We’re going to have to play real well. They’re deep.”

Not surprisingly, Ryan has tap danced around Uthoff’s development all week, but the former Wisconsin forward has finally found his niche in college hoops. From the players he did talk about, Ryan lauded Iowa’s center tandem for being a hard tag team to simulate because of their competiveness and solid defensive presence and heaped praise on White for being a “stand-up guy” and being an all-around complete player.

“They have depth,” said Ryan. “They push it. They try to get open looks in transition. You've got to get back. I think they've done a better job this year of forcing teams to play better half court defense. They're playing better half court defense, I think, than they did a year ago. That's what makes them better.”

Wisconsin’s a lot better, too, thanks to the development of Kaminsky and Hayes in the low post and Koenig now stepping into the mix. It might be a different story in Iowa City in 11 days, but I like Wisconsin at home by six tonight.

Worgull's Record: 16-2

Points off Prediction: 140 (7.8 per game)


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