Max Siker/BadgerNation

No.9 Wisconsin's first road test takes them to Omaha, Neb., to face No.22 Creighton

A breakdown of tonight's game between No.9 Wisconsin and No.22 Creighton at the Century Link Center.

No.9 Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No.22 Creighton (1-0, 0-0 Big East)

Date/Time – Tuesday, November 15, 7:30 p.m. central

Arena – Century Link Center (17,560)

Television – Fox Sports 1 (Tim Brando and Jim Jackson)

Radio –Badgers Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas) Westwood One (Kevin Kugler and Austin Croshere)

Series – Series tied 1-1 (First meeting in Omaha)

Last Meeting – Creighton won, 84-78, on November 23, 2012, in Las Vegas

WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS

3 Zak Showalter (6-3 Senior Guard, 10.0 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Senior Forward, 14.0 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 8.0 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-2 Senior Guard, 16.0 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Senior Forward, 0.0 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

0 D'Mitrik Trice (6-0 Freshman Guard, 8.0 ppg)

11 Jordan Hill (6-4 Junior Guard, 6.0 ppg)

15 Charles Thomas (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 7.0 ppg)

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Sophomore Forward, 4.0 ppg)

25 Alex Illikainen (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 2.0 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

In his collegiate debut, Trice hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions during an 11-0 run in the first half Friday. He also added two free throws, two rebounds and one steal in 13 minutes.

CREIGHTON PROBABLE STARTERS

0 Marcus Foster (6-3 Junior Guard, 19.0 ppg)

2 Khyri Thomas (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 16.0 ppg)

10 Maurice Watson Jr. (5-10 Senior Guard, 17.0 ppg)

13 Cole Huff (6-8 Senior Forward, 6.0 ppg)

23 Justin Patton (7-0 Freshman Center, 12.0 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

4 Ronnie Harrell Jr. (6-7 Sophomore Guard, 0.0 ppg)

21 Isaiah Zierden (6-3 Senior Guard 0.0 ppg)

40 Zach Hanson (6-9 Senior Center, 11.0 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Sitting out last season due to transfer restrictions after coming in from Kansas State, where he averaged 14.2 points per game in two seasons and was second-team All-Big 12 as a freshman, Foster was 4-for-9 from 3-point range in the opener.

LAST TIME OUT

MADISON – Wisconsin shot 47.2 percent from the floor in its 79-47 victory over Central Arkansas Friday. Bronson Koenig scored a game-high 16 points, 14 from Nigel Hayes and 10 from Zak Showalter, while Ethan Happ had a team-high +35 plus/minus ratio. In his 23 minutes on the court, Happ had eight points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting, a game-high nine rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and one turnover.

Wisconsin led wire-to-wire but certainly creating some anxious moments in the opening half. Jumping out to a 13-3 lead in the first 6 minutes, Central Arkansas (0-1) thrice chipped the lead down to two, the latest coming on a Darraja Parnell layup at 7:13.

That’s when Wisconsin put any fears to bed. Koenig hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to make it 22-17 and kick start the Badgers scoring 11 points in the next four possessions.  Trice dropped in the final six of those points, hitting a contested 3-pointer from the elbow and draining another after guard Jordan Hill kicked the ball out to the perimeter after penetrating into the lane.

The plays came roughly nine minutes after Trice first checked into the game and promptly turned the ball over after delivering a steal.

“I was kind of down on myself at that point, but I knew I had to keep playing,” Trice said, finishing with eight points, two rebounds, one steal and three turnovers in 13 minutes. “I knew my teammates had my back. Knocking down those shots really helped my confidence.”

There were few anxious moments after that. UW started the second half with a 14-3 run, including two 3s and eight points from Hayes to extend its lead to 45-25. Wisconsin led by as many as 33 points in the second half in part because of the perimeter shot.

Since starting out 1 of 10 from 3-point range, UW made 10 of its final 19. Koenig hit four while three other players had at least two.

SERIES NOTES

Prior to the team’s last meeting, the only meeting between the two schools was a 75-39 Wisconsin victory in Madison on January 8, 1949.

Wisconsin is 95-85 against teams currently in the Big East. The Badgers will play in-state rival Marquette for the 122nd time on Dec.10 in Milwaukee.

Creighton has gone 9-2 against Big Ten teams (at time of game) under Greg McDermott, with eight double-digit victories. Five of those double-digit wins are against Nebraska, with the last four coming against Tim Miles, whom McDermott is 12-0 all-time against at a variety of schools.

Creighton has won its last seven contests against Big Ten schools. No Big Ten team has beaten the Bluejays in Omaha since 1968, although none of those schools were ranked in the top 20.

This will not be Wisconsin's first foray into CenturyLink Center. The Badgers won a pair of NCAA Tournament games inside the facility in both 2008 and 2015 to secure Sweet 16 berths. Wisconsin is one of just six teams in the 14-year history of CenturyLink Center Omaha (244 games) to win four or more games in the venue, and the only one that is undefeated in those contests.

LAST MEETING

LAS VEGAS - In a game where the intensity mirrored March’s N.C.A.A. tournament and not a post-Thanksgiving tilt in a half-empty gym, the University of Wisconsin ran into the type of the team that has sent them packing in the postseason more than once before.

With four returning starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team, No.14 Creighton never panicked when Wisconsin made its runs and let its All-American forward take over, as junior Doug McDermott pushed the Bluejays into the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational with an 84-74 victory at Orleans Arena in the Las Vegas Invitational.

In a game that featured 10 ties and 18 lead changes, it was McDermott – the nation’s leading returning scorer – who scored a season and game-high 30 points and did everything right, except shoot a high percentage and have a good assist-to-turnover ratio (1-to-5).

“You put it on the back of your All-American at the end,” associate head coach Greg Gard said. “That’s a great lesson to younger players out there. It doesn’t matter what position you are. You can affect the game in so many ways, as I thought Doug did. He did so many things. He got to the free throw line and was so efficient in what he did.”

But even though McDermott – who shot 10-for-23 – carried the Bluejays (4-0) at points, it was the role players that pushed Creighton into the championship.

Ethan Wragge had 17 points, including a 3-pointer that put Creighton up for good, 61-60 with 7:40 left and hit another 3-pointer two minutes later when sophomore guard Traevon Jackson failed to rotate over.

McDermott had five points on the run, Josh Jones hit a jumper and Austin Chapman had two of his career-high 14 points during the stretch, as Creighton shot 62 percent in the second half. The Bluejays also made all six of their field goals and 88 percent from the free throw line for the game and 88.2 percent (15-for-17) in the second half.

After McDermott, no other Creighton played attempted more than seven shots, but the run wiped out Jared Berggren’s personal run to give Wisconsin (3-2) a lead.

Scoring 12 straight points and 14 of 17 during an eight-minute stretch in the second half, Berggren helped Wisconsin go on a 12-3 run to regain the lead - 60-58 with 8:10 left in regulation. After that, Creighton took control and never relented.

WISCONSIN NOTES

UW went 6-5 against ranked opponents last season. Over the last three seasons, the Badgers are 20-10, including a mark of 6-4 on the road against the AP Top 25.

Over the last 15 seasons, the Badgers have gone 21-18 (.538) in nonconference road games. That includes wins in six of last seven true road games.

Wisconsin went 18-for-23 at the free throw line in the opener vs. Central Arkansas. Last season the Badgers led the Big Ten with 20.8 FTAs per game. Nigel Hayes led the Big Ten in FTAs (258) and was second in made FTs (190).

The Badgers held Central Arkansas to just 47 points. Last season UW led the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing 63.8 ppg. Wisconsin held 10 opponents to season-low point totals. Wisconsin has led the conference in scoring defense in 10 of the last 14 seasons

CREIGHTON NOTES

Creighton is 2-7 all-time against top-25 foes when ranked itself, with the last such win coming on Feb. 16, 2014, when the No. 18 Bluejays defeated No. 6 Villanova, 101-80. That was also the last time that a ranked Creighton team hosted a ranked opponent.

Creighton is a perfect 52-0 all-time in regular-season home games that take place on or before Nov. 26th. Creighton has won 54 of its 55 regular-season November home games since 1990, falling only to Boise State in 2012.

Creighton returns four regular starters from last year's team that finished 20-15. Creighton's roster contains players who made 130 starts a year ago and a combined 173 career starts as Bluejays. That doesn't factor in the 57 starts for Foster at Kansas State.

Each of Creighton's five teams since 1980-81 to return 130 or more starts from the previous season won 20 or more games and went on to reach the postseason.

PREDICTION

One look at Creighton’s roster and it’s easy to see where the Bluejays’ strength lies. After advancing to the quarterfinals of the N.I.T. last season, Creighton is picked to finish third in the Big East because it has one of the best backcourts in the conference and one of the best guard groups the Badgers will see this nonconference season.

One of 20 men on the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year watch list and a preseason first-team all-conference selection, Watson Jr. leads the nation’s active players with 648 assists to go along with averaging 14.1 points per game a year ago; Foster – who sat out last season after spending two years at Kansas State – scored 19 points in the opener after averaging 14.1 points per game at his old stop.

Throw in Thomas (an explosive dunker with 12 slams last year) with Patton, who was named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year list before ever playing a collegiate game, and it’s no surprised Creighton’s team of 11 returning letterwinners hung 89 against UMKC Friday.

However, UMKC was 12-19 a year ago because it had trouble scoring (197th in adjusted offensive efficiency with 102.1 points per 100 possessions) and even better trouble defending (283rd in adjusted defensively). So while the 89 points UMKC gave up wasn’t a surprise, the Kangaroos scoring 82 was certainly eye popping.

Here lies the key to this game for me. Wisconsin’s swing offense is unique and hard to simulate, while its defense should be a culture shock to the Bluejays. The Badgers had some rough offensive patches in their opener, but their defense was on point and far ahead of where this group was last year. That should be enough to carry them in what figures to be a tough road environment.

Creighton has gone 9-2 against Big Ten teams (at time of game) under Greg McDermott, with eight double-digit victories. Five of those double-digit wins are against Nebraska, with the last four coming against Tim Miles, whom McDermott is 12-0 all-time against at a variety of schools. One of those losses was a 21-point setback at No.14 Indiana.

If Wisconsin’s veterans step up to the plate like they did on Friday, the Badgers will deliver a 9-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 1-0

Points off Prediction: 5 (5.0 per game)


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