Breakdown: Northwestern vs. No.5 Wisconsin

Looking to stay on a roll in Big Ten play, No.5 Wisconsin hosts last place Northwestern at the Kohl Center this afternoon. BadgerNation looks at the numbers of Wisconsin suddenly high powered offense and breaks down the matchup.

Northwestern (10-12, 1-8 Big Ten) vs. No.5 Wisconsin (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, February 7, 4:30 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,279)

Television -Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Stephen Bardo)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 113-62 (Wisconsin leads 64-21 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 81-58, on January 4, 2015 in Evanston, Ill.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.6 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 12.7 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.6 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 6.5 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 17.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.9 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 5.9 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.5 ppg)

Northwestern Probable Starters

14 Tre Demps (6-3 Junior Guard, 11.9 ppg)

20 Scottie Lindsey (6-5 Freshman Guard, 4.3 ppg)

22 Alex Olah (7-0 Junior Center, 11.0 ppg)

23 Jershon Cobb (6-5 Senior Guard, 6.2 ppg)

30 Bryant McIntosh (6-3 Freshman Guard, 12.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

4 Vic Law (6-7 Freshman Forward, 6.5 ppg)

32 Nathan Taphorn (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 4.3 ppg)

34 Sanjay Lumpkin (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 5.7 ppg)

Last Meeting

EVANSTON, Ill. - Four days after shooting 63.6 percent – its best shooting percentage in 17 years – in the conference-opening win over Penn State, No.4 Wisconsin stayed hot with a 52.6 percent shooting performance in its 81-58 win over Northwestern Sunday.

Four players cracked double-figure scoring for Wisconsin (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten), which won for the fifth straight time at Welsh-Ryan Arena and improved to 23-5 (.821) away from home over the last two seasons.

Much like it has been for most of the season, the Badgers’ attack was balanced and productive.

Sam Dekker scored 16 points, Frank Kaminsky added 11 of his 16 in the second half, Dukan finished with 14 off the bench and Nigel Hayes had his 10 in the first half, as the Badgers scored 80-plus points in consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since Steve Yoder’s final year in February 1992.

“We’ve had a few nights this year where we’ve had a multitude of guys putting shots in the bucket,” said Dekker. “I think that’s what’s cool about our team this year. We have a lot of guys who are confident to take those shots…When you have weapons like that, it makes the game a lot easier.”

UW was 18-for-32 from 2-point range (56 percent) and 12-for-25 (48 percent) from 3-point range, outscoring Northwestern (10-5, 1-1) 36-12 from beyond the arc.

“They were tremendous from 3-point range,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins. “This is a national-championship quality team. When you have five guys who can really play out there, you have to pick you poison … Sometimes when that happens, you have to tip your cap.”

Even with Kaminsky on the bench for the final 8:06 with two fouls, Wisconsin still shot 53.6 percent (15-for-28) from the floor, had 14 assists and outscored the Wildcats 24-0 from 3-point range in the opening half.

It had a similar ring to last year, when Wisconsin – in its first Big Ten road game – led 40-14 after the opening half.

Second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (58.9 points per game), the Wildcats allowed a season high in points and didn’t start finding success until the UW lead ballooned to 28 late in the second half. That surge was quickly correctly, as UW held Northwestern to only nine points over the final 7:23.

-Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Last Time Out

MADISON - Kaminsky scored a game-high 23 points and the Badgers were in control virtually throughout their 92-78 victory over Indiana – the 13th consecutive home victory over the Hoosiers.

Four players reached double figures for Wisconsin (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten), who now hold a two game lead over four teams in the jumbled Big Ten conference and continue to play some of their best basketball of the season.

“We knew we had a size advantage and we knew we had to take advantage of it,” said Kaminsky, as the Badgers are winning by an average of 15.4 points per game on their five game winning streak, four coming against NCAA Tournament teams a year ago. “We did a good job feeding the post.”

Chalk up another Wisconsin opponent who leaves a Badgers game flummoxed as to how to upend the conference’s unanimous favorite. Three days after Iowa shot 64 percent in the first half and was down six at halftime, Indiana (16-7, 6-4) shot 56.0 percent in the first half, including going 8-for-11 from 3-point range, but was staring up at the scoreboard down eight at intermission after the Badgers shot 68 percent.

Indiana entered the night as the highest scoring offense in the Big Ten (80.3), a product of a nonconference schedule that ranked 147th in the country and having quick guards who can hit 3-point jumpers. That equation became problematic against a Wisconsin starting lineup that had a height advantage across the board, a combined 14 inches in all.

The Badgers – the top scoring offense in conference games at 73.6 points per game – pummeled the league’s worst defense inside by scoring 24 of its 44 first-half points in the paint and had its big two – Nigel Hayes (16) and Kaminsky – go a combined 10-for-10.

Thrown Sam Dekker (14) in the mix, Wisconsin’s frontcourt combined to go 19-for-24 (79.2 percent) for 53 points, which included 13-for-16 from the free throw line.

The Badgers went 28-for-31 from the free throw line (Indiana went just 9-for-11), had a 6-1 edge in blocks, forced 11 turnovers that led to 16 points and only committed one of their six turnovers in the second half.

Just like Iowa, Indiana could not keep up in the second half. The Hoosiers – playing without leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. (16.5 ppg) - watched Wisconsin start the second half on a 16-1 run, missed their first seven shots and didn’t make its first field goal until 13:51 remaining.

The Hoosiers finished 13-for-24 from 3-point range, but Wisconsin shot 60.4 percent – the third time this season UW has shot better than 60 percent from the floor.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

Wisconsin has won 8 of the last 9 against the Wildcats overall.

Northwestern won in its last trip to Madison, 65-56, last season. That was the Wildcats’ first-ever win at the Kohl Center making them 1-13 all-time.

UW's last 6 victories over NU have come by an average of 24.2 points.

Bo Ryan is 18-5 all-time vs. Northwestern.

Sam Dekker has scored in double figures in all 4 of his career matchups with Northwestern, including 16 points in this season’s earlier meeting. He is averaging 13.0 ppg vs. the Wildcats.

Wisconsin Notes

UW has also won 128 of its last 130 games when shooting a higher FG percent than its opponents, including a mark of 18-0 this season and 19-1 last season.

Hayes averaged just 2.8 rpg last season but is now 10th in the Big Ten at 6.3 boards per game. Hayes did not attempt a 3-point field goal in 2013-14 and is 17-for-42 (.405) from long range this season. Hayes shot 58.5 percent from the FT line last season but is shooting 64-91 (.703) this year.

Wisconsin is allowing just 56.5 points per game, the top mark in the Big Ten and 7th nationally.

In 14 seasons under Ryan, the Badgers are an incredible 206-22 (.904) at the Kohl Center. UW’s .904 winning percentage since 2001-02 is good for 4th in the nation. Only Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga have better home records in that span.

With a start Saturday, Josh Gasser will start his 127th career game, breaking a tie with Alando Tucker for the most in program history. He’s nine games away from breaking the school’s games played record.

Northwestern Notes

Bryant McIntosh has established himself as one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten this season. In addition to dishing out an average of 4.5 assists per game (sixth in the conference), he leads the team with an average of 12.2 points per contest.

McIntosh has scored in double figures 16 times overall this season to rank first on the team.

Northwestern has been extremely competitive during its current skid. Prior to Tuesday's loss at Nebraska, each of the Wildcats' previous six defeats were by single digits with the average margin of defeat being 4.2 points. Five straight contests from Jan. 11-25 were a one-possession game with less than two seconds remaining in regulation.

After posting averages of 4.1 rebounds per game as a freshman and 5.2 as a sophomore, Olah has boosted that average to 6.5 per contest this season. The mark ranks seventh in the Big Ten.

Olah's four double-doubles rank third in the Big Ten behind only Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky (8) and Michigan State's Branden Dawson (5).

Prediction

What a difference a year makes.

Wisconsin felt it was on top of the world at one point last year, too, off to a 16-0 start that was the best in program history. The mood changed after the Badgers lost five of six, the bottom really dropping out in Wisconsin’s first Kohl Center loss to the Wildcats in which the Badgers shot a season-low 26.3 percent in a nine-point defeat.

The lowlights

  • Wisconsin didn’t score a field goal over a span of 12:15 in the second half. The field goal percentage was Wisconsin's second-lowest ever at home under Bo Ryan.
  • To date, the victory for Northwestern is one of only five for unranked Big Ten teams in 79 games at the Kohl Center against a Ryan-coached Wisconsin squad.
  • Drew Crawford became the first opposing Big Ten player to score 30 points at the Kohl Center since Shannon Brown scored 31 for Michigan State on Jan. 8, 2006.
  • It came less than a month after Wisconsin shot 55.2 percent in a 76-49 victory in the Big Ten opener in Evanston.

It was a sour taste that left fans questioning the direction of the team, especially since Ryan’s calling card of defense was missing. Of course we know the final destination for the Badgers last season but the home loss to the Wildcats still stings a year later to the point that some UW players don’t want to relive it this week.

Fast forward to the present and everything is clicking for Wisconsin on both ends of the court as last place Northwestern comes to town on an eight game losing streak and hoping lightning strikes twice in Madison. The Badgers rank first in the conference in defense (not a surprise) but are putting up huge numbers on offense.

Through nine Big Ten games, the Badgers lead the conference in scoring (75.7 ppg). UW has not led the Big Ten in scoring during conference play since 1947.

In league play, UW also leads the league in FG percent shooting 50.2 percent from the field and ranks second from behind the arc, making 39.5 percent from deep. The Badgers have four players shooting at least 50 percent in Big Ten action and six players at 45.0 percent or better.

At 1.22 points per possession, UW ranks third in the nation and is on pace for the highest PPP number of the Ryan era. A year ago fans thought Wisconsin’s offense was something special in averaging 73.5 points per game, the school’s highest average in 20 years. Currently, UW is at 74.4 points per game.

While Wisconsin’s veteran group is finishing games, Chris Collins’ Wildcats are still trying to figure out how to win in his second year. After losing to Wisconsin, the Wildcats lost their next five Big Ten games by a combined 17 points, including a seven-point overtime loss at Michigan State, by two to Michigan on the road and Ohio State at home and blowing an 11-point lead with 3 minutes, 46 seconds left to lose by one at Maryland.

Northwestern has a lot of good young players, including McIntosh, and a good center prospect in Olah, but this is a really bad matchup for the Badgers.

Wisconsin shot 53.6 percent en route to an 81-58 victory at Northwestern in this year’s Big Ten opener. Despite the similarities to what happened last year, Wisconsin wins by 21.

Worgull's Record: 20-2

Points off Prediction: 175 (8.0 per game)


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