Photo by Danny Parker

No.16 Wisconsin kicks off the Maui Invitational by meeting Tennessee for the first time in 15 seasons

Breaking down No.16 Wisconsin's first round match-up in the Maui Invitational against Tennessee. Here's what you need to know.

Tennessee (1-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. No.16 Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time – Monday, November 21, 1:30 p.m. central

Arena – Lahaina Civic Center (2,400)

Television – ESPN2 (Karl Ravech and Bill Walton)

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

Series – Tennessee leads 2-1 (Tennessee leads 1-0 in neutral sites)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 65-62, on December 29, 2001, in Madison

WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS

3 Zak Showalter (6-3 Senior Guard, 5.7 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Senior Forward, 11.0 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 7.7 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-2 Senior Guard, 15.7 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Senior Forward, 6.3 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

0 D’Mitrik Trice (6-0 Freshman Guard, 4.7 ppg)

11 Jordan Hill (6-4 Junior Guard, 3.0 ppg)

15 Charles Thomas (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 4.7 ppg)

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Sophomore Forward, 5.0 ppg)

25 Alex Illikainen (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 5.3 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Through three games, Happ is filling the box score averaging 7.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.7 spg in 22.3 minutes per game.

TENNESSEE PROBABLE STARTERS

0 Jordan Bone (6-1 Freshman Guard, 14.0 ppg)

3 Robert Hubbs (6-5 Senior Guard, 13.5 ppg)

11 Kyle Alexander (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 10.0 ppg)

23 Jordan Bowden (6-3 Freshman Guard, 7.0 ppg)

25 Shembari Phillips (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 9.5 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

1 Lamonte Turner (6-0 Freshman Guard, 13.5 ppg)

2 Grant WIlliams (6-5 Freshman Forward, 10.5 ppg)

15 Detrick Mostella (6-1 Junior Guard, 3.5 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

The team’s leading scorer, Bone handed out only one assist (to two turnovers) in a season-opening loss against Chattanooga, but recorded eight assists to two turnovers in Tennessee’s win over Appalachian State.

LAST TIME OUT

MADISON – Correctly anticipating a sluggish night from his heavy-minute starters following Tuesday’s defeat, head coach Greg Gard decided to use his bench early and often so No.9 Wisconsin could survive on a quick turnaround.

The reserves did more thriving than surviving in carrying the Badgers to the finish line.

Another off night from Wisconsin’s starting lineup didn’t have the same type of impact on the end result with the Badgers’ reserves combining for 36 points in a 69-51 victory over Chicago State Thursday at the Kohl Center.

“Playing in that type of game (at Creighton), I don’t know if we have this type of result if it’s not for the bench,” Gard said. “Guys, the contributions they gave, it’s hard to turnaround.”

Wisconsin (2-1) got scoring from six different players and shot a combined 13-for-21 (61.9 percent), much better than the starting five (13-for-37, 35.1). The biggest lift came from sophomore Khalil Iverson, who finished with a career-high 11 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.

After three of the five starters played 30 minutes in the 79-67 loss at No.22 Creighton, not to mention a late travel night and a day filled with class and a light practice in between, the Badgers didn’t get much pop from their five starters.

In fact the game against the Cougars (1-1) started earlier similar to what transpired 48 hours previously. Wisconsin made self-inflicted mistakes on its first three possessions – a pair of turnovers and a shot-clock violation – and saw Chicago State (just like Creighton) open the game on an 8-0 run.

Gard didn’t burn a timeout like he did on Tuesday, but he subbed in three players in the first 1:41 to send a not-so-subtle message. UW got the hint.

Wisconsin went on a 19-0 run over the next 8:55 thanks in large part to play from its bench. Junior guard Jordan Hill (3-pointer), sophomore forwards Charles Thomas (2-for-2 FGs, 2 rebounds), Alex Illikainen (two rebounds), Iverson (three rebounds, one block) and D’Mitrik Trice (3-pointer, four assists) all provided sparks during the run.

Leading 32-24 at halftime was thanks in part to the Badgers having an 18-0 edge in bench points, a number that grew to 36-4 by game’s end and a lead that grew to as big as 26.

After attempting 39 3-pointers and struggling to develop a post presence in the 12-point loss at Creighton (part of the reason why Chicago State started the game in zone defense), the Badgers delivered more balance offensively. UW still went 5-for-19 from 3-point range but scored 34 points in the paint, 12 points from the free throw line and turned a 16-3 edge on the offensive glass into a 14-0 margin in second-chance points.

SERIES NOTES

UT tallied a 79-67 win in the inaugural meeting at the 1981 Far West Classic in Portland Ore.

The two teams would then split a home-and-home in 2000 and 2001, with each school winning on its home court. The Badgers won the most recent match-up in Bo Ryan's first season at Wisconsin.

UW is 3-1 overall against UT coach Rick Barnes, with all four games while he was the head coach at Texas. The Badgers and Longhorns played home-and-home series in 1998-99 and 2007-08.

LAST MEETING

Tennessee had a chance to send the game against the Badgers into overtime if Thaydeus Holden’s 3-pointer would have fallen, but his last-second attempt rimmed out to help Wisconsin prevail.

UT trailed 61-53 with 4:15 to play but rallied to have two chances to tie the score. Vols guard Jon Higgins drove into the lane and sank a short jumper with 32 seconds to play to pull the Vols to within two, 64-62. Wisconsin threw the ball long over the Vols’ press on the inbounds play, and UW’s Freddie Owens appeared to have a clear path to the basket. But Marcus Haislip was there to block Owens’ shot, and Vincent Yarbrough recovered the rebound with 23 seconds to play. UT ultimately couldn’t capitalize.

The game got away from the Vols at the free-throw line. The Badgers went to the line 26 times and made 22 of them. Tennessee was 6-of-12 at the line.

Haislip and fellow forward Ron Slay led the Vols with 13 points apiece. Haislip added four blocks. Kirk Penney (16 points) and Mike Wilkinson (15 points) led the way for Wisconsin.

WISCONSIN NOTES

Wisconsin is making its third appearance in the Maui Invitational, having also participated in 1995 and 2009. The Badgers are 3-3 all-time in the tournament and 12-10 all-time in Hawaii.

The Badgers took 3rd place in the 2009 Maui Invitational. UW guard Trevon Hughes was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 16.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. Wisconsin went 1-2 in the 1995 Maui Invite in Dick Bennett's first 3 games as UW's coach.

This marks the Badgers' 9th trip to Hawaii for a basketball tournament overall. UW has also participated in the Big Island Invitational in Hilo in both 1997 and 2001 as well as the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu in 1964, '79, '86 and '91.

The Badgers have out-rebounded each of their first 3 opponents by an average of 18.7 boards per game, including a 46 to 22 edge on the offensive glass. UW has out-scored opponents 40 to 8 in the second-chance points category.

Wisconsin is 46-17 (.730) away from home over the last 4 seasons. Last season, the Badgers went 9-8 away from the Kohl Center, going 6-5 in true road games and 3-3 in neutral settings.

TENNESSEE NOTES

This is UT’s third all-time appearance at the Maui Invitational. Tennessee owns a 2-4 record in Maui, with wins over Stanford (2004) and Chaminade (2011). The Vols claimed fourth place in 2004 and seventh place in 2011.

Rick Barnes is making history as the first head coach ever to take three different schools to the tournament, as his Providence (1991) and Texas (2004, 2008, 2012) teams also played in Maui. Barnes’ teams are 6-6 in this tournament. Barnes’ 2004 Longhorns squad handed Tennessee a 95-70 loss in that year’s third-place game. He also led Texas to a third-place finish in 2008.

With a team-high 10 rebounds in the opener vs. Chattanooga on Nov. 11, freshman forward Grant Williams became the first Vol to log double-digit rebounds in his Tennessee debut since graduate transfer John Fields had 10—also against Chattanooga. The last Vol freshman to record 10 or more rebounds in his Tennessee debut was C.J. Black on Nov. 24, 1996, vs. Morehead State.

Returning wings Robert Hubbs III and Detrick Mostella finished last season as a potent scoring duo, combining to average 30 points per game over Tennessee’s season-ending, three-game run at the SEC Tournament.

In terms of under- and upperclassmen, this is the youngest Tennessee team in 20 years. Kevin O’Neill’s 1996-97 Vols had only three upperclassmen, just like this current UT squad. In comparing Tennessee’s roster to the other teams in the Maui Invitational field, the Vols have few upperclassmen than any other squad, two fewer than Oklahoma State and UConn.

PREDICTION

Although Greg Gard has all the pieces to the puzzle, retuning the top nine scorers off last year’s team, Wisconsin second-year head coach is still trying to develop the chemistry and continuity with the group. It’s a little surprising, considering the starting five and most of the rotation played together all of last season, but it’s been evident during spurts of two nonconference home games and performing poorly at No.22 Creighton last week that the Badgers – even with so much depth – are trying to find their way a little bit with minutes, roles and expectations.

“We’re still growing, still trying to get better,” Gard said. “I think playing Creighton a week ago, I think that really helped us grow up a little bit faster and (the Maui Invitational) will as well.”

Of all the teams in the eight-team field, nobody will likely grow up faster than Tennessee, which is in its second year under head coach Rick Barnes.

Barnes has won more than 600 games and been to 20 N.C.A.A. tournaments in the last 23 years (including 16 out of 17 at Texas from 1988 to 2015), but he is coaching one of the youngest teams he’s ever coached with nine new players in the program, including seven freshmen.

It’s part of the reason why Tennessee was picked to finish 13th in the SEC and why freshmen have scored 94 of UT’s 172 points (55 percent) through two games this season.

“The unknown is how we’re going to respond to the schedule and what we have to do this year, but we like this group,” Barnes said. “They work hard for us and really help us set the culture we want to build at Tennessee.”

Barnes even went so far to bring in a graduate transfer for the first time in his long tenure in Lew Evans to blend in with the three upperclassmen returning, but the key for the Vols is Hubbs. Entering this afternoon, he leads the Vols in scoring, field goals, field goal percentage, free throws, steals and minutes.

“He’s a guy we need to have a great year for us,” Barnes said.

Averaging 86 points per game, Tennessee is also giving up 88 points per game. They also are even on the glass with Chattanooga and Appalachian State, committed a total of 30 turnovers against those two schools and shot 25.7 percent (9 of 35) from 3-point range.

The Badgers’ experience should do the trick in this game, especially if they establish the post and play an inside-outside game that was similar to what we saw on Thursday. UW gets off to a good start in Maui and wins by 16.

Worgull's Record: 2-1

Points off Prediction: 41 (13.0 per game)

 


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