Temple may have one of the more difficult schedules to start the season, as three of the first four teams the Owls faced were ranked in the top 25, which includes then-No. 1 North Carolina to open the season. Unfortunately for the Owls, Temple dropped all three games – 24 to the Tar Heels, five to then-No.24 Butler and four to then-No.16 Utah.
Despite the rough start to its season, Temple has won its last two games by an average of 14 points to go along with a Nov.19 win over Minnesota in Puerto Rico and is familiar playing away from home, as four of its first six games have been on a neutral floor.
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan did his part to rest his rotation players on Thursday after the starters logged heavy minutes in the overtime win against Syracuse. UW will have to be prepared for a scrappy team; a Temple that hopes to have a repeat of 2001 when they came into Madison and beat Wisconsin in double overtime.
In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin as it strives to beat Temple.
Lay up: Staying patient on offense
When Wisconsin stayed patient and ran its offense, the Badgers were able to find offensive success against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Wisconsin likely won’t face as tough of a challenge against a Temple defense that is allowing 71.5 points per game, but what will remain the same is that Wisconsin can’t feel rushed and make mental mistakes like they did at times against Syracuse.
The one area where Wisconsin has struggled this season is avoiding scoring droughts, as they are shooting 41.5 percent from the field. But if Wisconsin can stay patient and find good looks on offense, they will have chances converting against a team allowing opponents to shoot 40.4 percent.
Even if shots aren’t falling, UW has a chance to clean up on the glass if they remain aggressive, as the Owls allow 40.2 rebounds and 13 offensive rebounds a game. Wisconsin clearly has been consistent in this area, winning the rebounding battle each game and outrebounded opponents by an average of 8.7 rebounds. Ethan Happ has been one of the reasons why, as the freshman ranks second in the Big Ten with 8.5 rebounds a game. Happ matches up well against Temple’s frontcourt as he should be able to win his share of battle on the boards.
Patience on offense will also help the Badgers avoid turnovers, which came ad nauseam against the Orange. Against Syracuse Happ was called for four travels and at times there was miscommunication between players that resulted in passes going out of bounds. If Wisconsin can dramatically dial back the 20 turnovers, it will help make sure the offense can give themselves a chance of establishing consistency.
Mid-range jumper: Encore performances
Wisconsin did well of defending the perimeter Wednesday by holding the Orange to its worst shooting night from 3-point range on the season, a sign that things could be moving in the first direction for this team’s perimeter defense. Wisconsin will need to continue to actively contest 3-point looks, as its perimeter defense will once again be contested. The Owls average 8.2 made 3-pointers a game, which ranks second in the American Athletic Conference.
Although Temple makes a lot of 3-pointers, the Owls attempt a ton (24.5 per game). Even if Temple doesn’t make the shot at a high percentage, Wisconsin will still need to be cognizant of it and communicate switches on defense. Temple will gladly create room for either Quenton DeCosey, who’s making 47.4 percent from three, or Obi Enechionyia, who’s connecting on 42.9 percent from three.
The 6-9 Enechionyia averages about four 3-point attempts a games, so Happ or Vitto Brown will need to try and get a hand in his face on the perimeter. Both have developed a knack for blocking shots, as the pair rank first and second on the team (Happ 8; Brown 6). If either of them can alter a shot, it might help take the ball out of Enechionyia’s hands on the perimeter.
In addition to its perimeter defense, Wisconsin needs to continue the momentum it established Wednesday in defending the low block. Before playing Syracuse, UW was allowing 28.8 points in the paint. UW held the Orange to 14, showing they are capable of making things challenging around the rim. Temple is averaging 22.3 points in the paint, so UW’s ability to clog the lane and prevent high percentage shots will force Temple to shoot medium-length to long-range shots.
3-pointer: Can Wisconsin slow Temple’s backcourt down?
Averaging 15.5 points per game, tied for sixth in the AAC, DeCosey is the leader of Temple’s backcourt and plays with a pretty good running mate. Devin Coleman – also a senior - averages 10.8 points a game but struggles with efficiency, averaging 10 shots a game while shooting 33.3 percent from the field. Bronson Koenig will need to try to force the ball out of DeCosey’s hands as much as possible in favor of Coleman, especially since DeCosey is shooting 50 percent from the field.
Zak Showalter should be able to limit the separation Coleman receives considering the UW junior’s defense has steadily improved with his increase role this season. Showalter has already drawn nine charges this season and drawing one on either senior guard could possibly discourage them from repeatedly attacking the rim.
Koenig and Showalter can alter Temple’s rhythm by pestering DeCosey, who leads the team with 2.3 turnovers a game. It won’t be as easy with Coleman considering he’s turned the ball over four times through six games. Wisconsin has been able to force opponents into 12 turnovers per contest but will have a challenge against an Owls team averaging only 8.3 miscues per game. Aggressive defense usually leads to success for Wisconsin and Showalter, who has registered a total of eight steals over his last four games.
It doesn’t appear DeCosey forces many shots, so Koenig will have to be patient and make sure he has help defense in case DeCosey beats him off the dribble and looks to drive. If Koenig can consistently take the ball out DeCosey hands, Temple’s offense will likely become stagnate without him. If that’s not the case, DeCosey has more than enough talent to score from the inside, the outside or find his pair of talented forwards in Jaylen Bond (11.2 points per game) or Enechionyia (11).