Max Siker/BadgerNation

Wisconsin hosts Milwaukee - one of the top teams in the Horizon League - at the Kohl Center tonight

Following up one of its most complete victories of the season, Wisconsin will begin its in-state swing at the Kohl Center tonight when it takes on a talented Milwaukee Panthers program. BadgerNation analyzes the matchup.

Milwaukee (6-3, 0-0 Horizon League) vs. Wisconsin (6-3, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time – Wednesday, December 9, 8 p.m. central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,287)

Television – Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Shon Morris)

Radio – Badgers Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Wisconsin leads 31-1 (Wisconsin leads 20-1 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 93-54, on December 10, 2014, in Milwaukee

WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Junior Guard, 8.6 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Junior Forward, 15.2 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-9 Freshman Forward, 10.8 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Junior Guard, 15.8 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Junior Forward, 10.0 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

15 Charlie Thomas (6-8 Freshman Forward, 2.3 ppg)

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Freshman Forward, 4.9 ppg)

24 Alex Illikainen (6-9 Freshman Forward, 4.0 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

After going 0-for-6 from the floor in last week’s two road games, Thomas scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes in the win over Temple. It was the fourth time this season Thomas shot at least 50 percent from the field.

MILWAUKEE PROBABLE STARTERS

1 Jordan Johnson (5-9 Junior Guard, 9.9 ppg)

2 Akeem Springs (6-4 Junior Guard 12.6 ppg)

23 J.J. Panoske (6-10 Senior Forward, 10.3 ppg)

31 Matt Tiby (6-8 Senior Forward, 14.8 ppg)

34 Austin Arians (6-6 Junior Forward, 13.2 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

5 Cody Wichmann (6-5 Junior Guard, 5.9 ppg)

30 J.R. Lyle (6-2 Senior Guard, 4.6 ppg)

50 Brett Prahl (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 1.4 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Johnson, a transfer from John Wood Community College, ranks second in the nation with 8.3 assists per game. He actually sits tops in the country in total assists with 75.

LAST TIME OUT

MADISON – Nigel Hayes was in the mix offensively and defensively for Wisconsin, which led by as many as 21 points in the second half on their way to a 76-60 victory over Temple at the Kohl Center.

Hayes scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double for the Badgers (6-3), which followed up their overtime road win at No.14 Syracuse with an impressive performance over a veteran Temple squad for their best two-game stretch of the young season.

“It’s a work in progress every day,” said junior Zak Showalter, referring to UW’s defense that held Temple to 37.9 percent shooting. “It’s mainly communication for us right now, just trying to figure each other out … We’ve come a long way, we’ve still got a lot of work to do but we’re getting there.”

Junior guard Bronson Koenig finished with 17 points (7-for-14 from the field), regaining his shooting touch after going 6-for-27 the previous two games, and Showalter finished with 11. The Badgers shot 46 percent from the field, 55 percent from 3-point range and outscored Temple 30-18 in the paint.

It’s part of the reason Hayes didn’t attempt a 3-pointer for the first time this season, as the junior was more than excited to take advantage of a clear height advantage.

“A lot of team so far it seems like they’re trying to do the same thing they did last year by putting a smaller guy on me, which I don’t know why people do that,” said Hayes. “I just try my best to take advantage of my height and size on the inside.”

Hayes was heavily involved on many of Wisconsin’s long scoring runs, scoring four points on a 12-2 run and assisting on a pair of buckets on a 10-0 run in the first half. He also delivered a put-back slam following a Zak Showalter 3-pointer that injected energy into the building.

And when Temple regrouped coming out of the locker room to cut the lead to five, Hayes had six points, four rebounds and an assist on a 15-0 run that kept the lead over 14 for the remainder of the game.

But his biggest production came with his defense on Temple senior Quenton DeCosey, who entered the game as the team’s leading scorer with 15.5 points per game. Hayes held him to three points on only 1-for-6 shooting, as Temple eventually stopped running the offense through him.

LAST MEETING

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 10.

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.

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

SERIES NOTES

Wisconsin and Milwaukee will meet for the 33rd time on Wednesday in a series that began in 1901. Outside the Big Ten, UW has faced only Marquette (121) more frequently than UWM.

Wisconsin is 63-3 (.955) against members currently in the Horizon League. UW hasn’t lost to a league member since losing at Green Bay in overtime in 2009.

Milwaukee is 10-49 (.169) all-time versus current members of the Big Ten Conference, with seven of those wins coming versus Northwestern. The Panthers’ last win over a Big Ten foe came on January 26, 2005, when they knocked off Purdue, 73-68 in West Lafayette, Ind.

Under Bo Ryan, UW is 14-0 vs. the Panthers, including a mark of 10-0 in Madison. Last season, the Badgers beat UWM, 93-54, in Milwaukee.

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 (12/12/92).

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 1991 national 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.

Wisconsin has only been ranked nine times when squaring off with Milwaukee. The Panthers have never been ranked.

WISCONSIN NOTES

UW leads the Big Ten and rank 22nd in the NCAA with 15.0 offensive rebounds per game. Overall, the Badgers have grabbed 54 more offensive boards than their opponents (135-81). The Badgers are rebounding 40.4 percent of their misses (135 offensive boards on 301 opportunities).

Happ is averaging 10.8 points and leading the Badgers with 8.0 rebounds per game. The last Wisconsin freshman to average at least 10.0 points per game was Alando Tucker (12.0) in the 2002-03 season.

Hayes and Happ each have three double-doubles on the season, tied for the most in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin is surrendering 65.8 points per game so far this season, but have dramatic improvement over the last 2 games - wins over No. 14 Syracuse and Temple. The Badgers held both the Orange and Owls to season-low point totals and limited each to sub-40 percent shooting.

MILWAUKEE NOTES

The Panthers won ineligible for postseason play last season because of low Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores but return six of their seven scorers.

In its six wins, Milwaukee has limited opponents to 63.0 ppg and 41.6 percent (141-for-339) shooting from the field. However, in three losses, the Panthers have yielded 82.7 ppg and seen foes sink 54.2 percent (91-for-168) of their field goal attempts.

Milwaukee, which has scored 71 or more points in seven of its first nine contests of the 2015-16 season, has now prevailed in 13 of its last 17 games when scoring 70 or more points.

Dating back to the 2014-15 campaign, the Panthers had won 12 of their prior 17 games before an 86-78 loss at No. 18 Notre Dame on November 17 halted Milwaukee's seven-game winning streak. That seven-game stretch marked the program's longest stretch of consecutive victories since the 2010-11 season.

PREDICTION

Don’t be surprised if Milwaukee is playing in the month of March, as Rob Jeter has a veteran group of players who are playing well together. The Panthers’ six wins are second most in the Horizon League and the program is only a couple turnovers away from erasing a couple of those losses.

Milwaukee is getting great production from Johnson with his passing, as the Panthers lead the Horizon League with 18.1 assists per game as a team and with a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio; Springs is averaging a career high in points per game, field goal percentage (50.6 percent) and 3-point percentage (45.2); and Panoske has 11.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over his last 14 games, while shooting 49.2 percent (60-for-122) from the field and 40.9 percent (18-for-44) from beyond the arc.

This will not be a game for Wisconsin to take lightly, as the Badgers will need to follow the same pattern that led them to two impressive wins last week: post touches, solid defense, shutting down the perimeter and balanced scoring.

Milwaukee will be able to hang with Wisconsin into the second half, a product of being used to playing away from home and having some veteran players, but I predict the Badgers interior size will make the difference in the low block and on the boards, as UW has yet to lose a rebounding battle yet this season.

Wisconsin adds another win over another tournament-quality team tonight, winning by 14.

Worgull's Record: 6-3

Points off Prediction: 120 (13.3 per game) 


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