Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports

Badgers Breakdown: No.23 Maryland vs. No.11 Wisconsin

After disappearing against Michigan, Nigel Hayes vows that he needs to step up more for the Badgers. Can he lead No.11 Wisconsin to a win over No.23 Maryland Sunday afternoon? We breakdown the match-up.

No.23 Maryland (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten) vs. No.11 Wisconsin (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten)

Date/Time – Sunday, February 19, 12 p.m. central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,287)

Television – CBS (Brad Nessler and Clark Kellogg)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 6-4 (Wisconsin leads 2-1 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 70-57, on February 13, 2016, in College Park, MD

WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS

3 Zak Showalter (6-3 Senior Guard, 8.0 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Senior Forward, 13.3 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 14.5 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-2 Senior Guard, 13.4 ppg)*

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Senior Forward, 7.3 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

0 D'Mitrik Trice (6-0 Freshman Guard, 5.7 ppg)

15 Charles Thomas (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 2.6 ppg)

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Sophomore Forward, 4.2 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

After scoring a game-high 22 points Thursday at Michigan, Happ is averaging 16.2 points in Big Ten play, including eight double-doubles.

* - Koenig is listed as day-to-day (left calf)

MARYLAND PROBABLE STARTERS

0 Anthony Cowan (6-0 Freshman Guard, 10.7 ppg)

2 Melo Trimble (6-3 Junior Guard, 17.2 ppg)

4 Kevin Huerter (6-7 Freshman Guard, 9.0 ppg)

21 Justin Jackson (6-7 Freshman Forward, 11.0 ppg)

35 Damonte Dodd (6-11 Senior Forward, 6.6 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

1 Jaylen Brantley (5-11 Junior Guard, 5.2 ppg)

13 Ivan Bender (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 4.3 ppg)

15 Michal Cekovsky (7-1 Junior Center, 7.4 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Trimble notched his 24th double-figure scoring performance of the season with his career-high 32 points (12-for-17) at Northwestern. It was his 11th game with 20 or more points this season.

LAST TIME OUT

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – In a game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes, No.11 Wisconsin lost its composure over the final 10 minutes and change in a 64-58 defeat to Michigan at the Crisler Center Thursday.

Moritz Wagner scored 21 points (8.1 above his season average), Zak Irvin added 18 and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 12, including six straight points during a second half spurt, that put Michigan (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten) ahead for good and extended UW’s misery.

Happ scored 22 points before fouling out in the final minute for Wisconsin (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten), which has lost two straight for the first time since March 2016 and fell back into a three-way tie in the conference standings with Maryland and Purdue.

Wisconsin played without senior Bronson Koenig, who was ruled out Thursday morning to rest his ailing left calf. It was the first game Koenig, had missed since the second game of his true freshman season, and the first time in 38 games UW had a change to its starting lineup.

True freshman D’Mitrik Trice started in Koenig’s place – becoming just the fifth true freshman to start for Wisconsin since 2000 – but the point guard finished with nine points on 2-for-15 shooting, He also delivered a foul on Abdur-Rahkman’s 3-point make that led to a made free throw during a back-breaking 9-0 Michigan run in the second half.

Iverson popped for 10 points off the bench but the Badgers didn’t get much scoring from anybody else, including their seniors. Nigel Hayes attempted only seven shots and finished with six points and Vitto Brown was scoreless on five shots.

UW shot 38.3 percent from the field and 30 percent (9-for-30) in the second half. Take out Happ’s 10-for-13 performance, UW shot 27.7 percent (13-for-47) and missed a ton of easy looks around the rim.

According to head coach Greg Gard, Wisconsin went 10-for-16 in the paint in the first half and 7-for-21 in the lane after halftime.

Showalter gave Wisconsin its final lead on a 3-point play at 47-45 with 10:47 remaining. The offense went south after that, going scoreless for 4:28 on seven consecutive empty possessions. Michigan outscored UW 13-3 run over the next six minutes to deliver the dagger, as the Badgers made only two field goals after Showalter’s play.

Happ was responsible for 27 of Wisconsin's 31 points in the first half, scoring 18 points (one more than the last two games combined) and four assists that led to nine points.

But without much action from his teammates in the second half, Michigan held him to only four points while the sophomore committed all five of his fouls, helping the Wolverines beat the Badgers for only the third time in the last 20 meetings.

SERIES NOTES

The Terps have won two of three meetings since joining the conference.

Last season, UW and UM split of pair of meetings, with each winning on the opposing team's home court. The Badgers suffered a 63-60 home loss before returning the favor with a 70-57 win in College Park.

Since joining the Big Ten Conference for the 2014-15 season, Maryland leads all conference schools with a .793 winning percentage. The Terps are 77-20 overall, including a 36-13 mark in league play. Wisconsin ranks second behind the Terps in winning percentage since 2014-15 at .784 (80-22).

The Badgers and Terrapins have met in some noteworthy circumstances over the last 15 years.

Wisconsin’s 78-75 overtime win in the 2000 Big Ten/ACC Challenge marked Dick Bennett’s final game coaching at UW. The 2002 meeting, an 87-57 Terps win, came in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament en route to Maryland’s 2002 National Championship.

LAST MEETING

COLLEGE PARK, MD – Led by a career-high 21 points from Vitto Brown, UW picked a part No.2 Maryland on both ends of the floor for a convincing 70-57 victory at the Xfinity Center.

After starting the conference season 1-4, Wisconsin has won seven straight, including three over ranked opponents. Interim Head Coach Greg Gard, who possibly came one game closer to remove the 'interim' from his title, called it “the most complete 40 minutes we've played this season.”

“I'm extremely proud of my guys,” he added, “and I couldn't be prouder to call myself their coach.”

After being held scoreless in the 63-60 loss to Maryland in Madison Jan.9, Brown delivered his second straight career-high scoring performance, including three 3-pointeres and seven rebounds, to give Maryland (22-4, 10-3) its first home loss to a conference team since joining the league last season, not to mention seeing its 27-game home winning streak end with a thud.

A first half dominated by Wisconsin, seeing the Badgers go on a 28-5 run after being down 14-7, carried throughout the game with tremendous balance. Wisconsin made 12 3-point field goals, 12 free throws and 11 2-point field goals, building a lead as big as 16 points in the first half that was never chipped below six.

“We've been saying we could play with anyone in the country for a while,” said junior Bronson Koenig, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. “They beat us on a last second shot at home and it shows how much we've improved.”

The Terrapins started immediately on the attack after halftime, resulting in starters Ethan Happ and Zak Showalter each picking up their third and fourth fouls in the first 87 seconds.

Leaning heavily on the bench for the next eight minutes, Gard watched the Terrapins cut the Badgers’ lead to six at 10:48, as UW could only manage three 3-pointers with the two starters sitting. With the score 45-39, Gard called timeout, put Showalter and Happ back on the floor and rolled the dice.

Needing to stymie Maryland’s 18-9 run, Wisconsin rebuild the lead to 12, withstood another run that cut the lead to eight and put the game away for good on Showalter’s 3-pointer on a two offensive rebound possession and Brown’s 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 59-48 with 3:48 to go. The lead never dipped below 11 with UW closing the game 7-for-9 from the line.

After being put back on the floor, Showalter has six points, Happ had five rebounds, two steals and an assist and neither committed another foul, helping UW register a huge 20-4 edge in second chance points. 

After hitting a 26-footer just before the buzzer that was the difference maker in the first meeting, Melo Trimble was pestered constantly by Wisconsin and finished with only 10 points on 1-for-14 shooting. Drawing the assignment, Nigel Hayes made up for a 4-for-12 shooting night by applying the pressure while his teammates squeeze the driving lanes. As a result, Trimble had five of the team’s 12 turnovers.

That resulted in Wisconsin started the game on a 7-2 run, weathering a 12-0 run and scoring the next 17 points with a combination of post touches, perimeter shots and free throws to take control of the game, especially with its defense holding Maryland without a point for 8:22 and without a field goal for 10:51.

WISCONSIN NOTES

Under Greg Gard, UW is 33-0 when leading or tied with 5:00 remaining. Dating back to February of 2011, UW is 155-5 (.969) when leading or tied with 5:00 left.

With a win vs. Maryland, Gard would equal the 2nd-best 50-game start in Wisconsin annals, trailing only Hall of Famer Walter Meanwell (49-1).

Hayes has tallied 1,686 points, 710 rebounds and 293 assists in his career. He is just the third player in Big Ten history to reach those marks in all three categories, joining Steve Smith (MSU) and Brian Evans (IND).

During Big Ten play, Showalter is shooting 50.7 percent from the field, which is 12th in the Big Ten and the highest mark of any guard in the conference. He is also shooting a team-high 42.5 percent from 3-point range during conference play.

MARYLAND NOTES

Maryland is 7-1 in road games this season and 10-1 in contests away from XFINITY Center. Melo Trimble leads the Terps on the road with a team-best 17.0 points per road game.

Maryland has won nine games this season by six points or less, including three by one point. Maryland is 29-8 in contests decided by six points or less over the past three seasons.

After posting a career-worst eight turnovers at Iowa on Jan. 19, freshman guard Anthony Cowan has had just eight turnovers to 27 assists in the last seven games. He leads the Terps with 97 assists this season.

Trimble was named to the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20, having earned that distinction in each of his first three seasons.

PREDICTION

Before a critical Thursday road test, Nigel Hayes used the media to call out redshirt freshman Brevin Pritzl in order to try to spark some confidence. In retrospect, he should have said some things to himself in the mirror.

Without Bronson Koenig in the lineup and needing somebody to step up on the road at Michigan, a passive Hayes took only seven shots and finished with a meager six points in the six point loss. He played 33 minutes and finished with five rebounds, no free throws attempts and two turnovers.

Without using names, Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard called out players in two ways post game – saying more guys need to step in to contribute and little point guard D’Mitrik Trice being the most aggressive getting to the line is good for him and looks bad on others.

Hayes didn’t address reporters after the game but he was lambasted on social media, par for the course for the senior dating back to last season.

Since the beginning of his junior year Hayes has either been praised or harshly criticized. Thrust into a leadership role, fingers pointed at Hayes for Wisconsin’s 9-9 start for a lack of leadership and poor shooting. Hayes got a brief reprieve after averaging 17.5 points over the next 13 games, helping play the Badgers into another N.C.A.A. tournament, but then fell flat in March.

In four postseason games, Hayes was 11-for-54 from the floor and 2-for-21 from 3-point range. The anger came to a head when his six turnovers were a factor in UW’s implosion against Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

Hayes has put up decent numbers this season. He is third on the team in scoring (13.3), second in rebounds (5.9) and second in assists (2.8). He’s also made considerable strides with his defense to limit opposing team’s shooters. But for someone named Big Ten preseason player of the year, shooting 30.5 percent from 3-point range and 62.2 percent from the free throw line has caused the lightning rod to draw more attention from the outside world (although to be fair, he claims to care very little about what others say).

In meeting with reporters after Friday’s practice, Hayes said he and Gard had a meeting that made him realize it’s now or never to take that next step – and maybe his last chance – to being more aggressive and this team’s vocal leader.

“I’ve always said I try to let things come,” Hayes told reporters. “It’s come to a time when I can no longer do that. I need to start being assertive, being aggressive, dominating the game like I have the capability to do. It’s definitely that time to do so.”

Whether Hayes should have recognized weeks ago that his team needed him to step up during this scoring lull is up for debate, but the fact that the Badgers have gone through a month of offensive hair pulling and still remain in first place should make them feel fortunate. That will be a memory if the Badgers can’t handle a co-first place Maryland team that is 10-1 away from home this season (7-1 in true road games).

The Terps are solid on offense and defense and have a good young corps of players (Justin Johnson is averaging 14.5 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per road game, including shooting 60.7 (17-for-28) from beyond arc and 52.6 (41-for-78) from the floor). Most importantly, unlike most of Wisconsin’s vets, Maryland’s leader – Melo Trimble – is playing at a high level for a team that wasn’t expected to be contenders after being gutted by graduation and early departures.

Will Friday’s meeting shock the system for Hayes? Maybe it’ll be the countless tweets saying he’s regressed this season after toying with the N.B.A.? A year ago when UW was 9-9, Hayes told reporters at Welsh-Ryan Arena that he was “(expletive) pissed.” The next game he scored 25 points (7-for-14 shooting, 9-for-10 free throws) in a one-point victory over No.4 Michigan State.

Wisconsin is in trouble and Hayes knows it. A hunch says he’ll deliver Wisconsin to a four-point victory, getting the fan’s praise in the process.

Worgull's Record: 23-3

Points off Prediction: 218 (8.4 per game)


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