Considering the manner in which the Golden Eagles picked UW apart, took them out of their comfort zone and completely deflated a streaking Badgers squad, the UW players said, as tough as it is, they'll have to putt he past behind them and move on one game at a time.
"You have to put a loss like that past you," freshman Brian Butch said. "If you don't, you can't grow as a team. We have to take that experience as a learning experience and just prepare for the next game, which is UWM."
The Panthers, like the Badgers, enter the match-up off a loss on the road. Saturday's one-point loss at Valparaiso was the first of the year for head coach Bruce Pearl's squad—a team which has gotten off to its best start to the season since the 1992-93 campaign.
UWM, the preseason pick to win the Horizon League, has made huge strides in recent years with Pearl at the helm. One of the team's strongest traits is bouncing back from losses. Under Pearl, the Panthers are 23-6 in the game after a defeat.
On top of that, the group has improved each year on the road. With back-to-back wins over Illinois-Chicago and Saint Louis this year, the Panthers are in the fourth game of a six-game stretch away from home. This experience in unfriendly waters has prepared the Panthers well for a Badgers team that is looking for its 33rd straight win at home.
"They're a good team," Butch said. "They've gotten off to a good start, coached by a good coach and they just run a really good program. We're looking forward to them coming in Wednesday and having a good game."
The Panthers this season are averaging nearly 11 points more per game (78.0) than UW (66.9). Led in scoring by junior Joah Tucker's 16.0 points per game, UWM has three players averaging double digits per contest. Senior Ed McCants is second on the team with 13.6 points per game and junior Adrian Tigert rounds out the trio with 10.9 points an outing. Tigert also leads the team in rebounds per game with 7.6.
Much of UWM's offensive output, however, is spurred by an improving defense, full-court pressure after baskets and pure athleticism. Recognized for their quickness and tendency to press throughout the game, many of the team's 8.3 steals per game are courtesy of their pressure play, which translates into a very formidable transition game.
"They like to push it in transition," senior guard Sharif Chambliss said. "They have some great athletes on their team And we know they are going to be very intense, but we have to bring that intensity right back and just go out, play our game and have fun."
For the Badgers, much of their ability to have fun and be successful is contingent on a fast start to the game. In their two losses this season, the common denominator has been getting down early and getting down by a lot. As much as establishing the post in order to open up the outside shots is important to UW's success, if the Badgers are denied down-low like they were against Marquette, they will have to not only shoot better but also create other scoring opportunities in order to get back to winning ways.
"We can't dig a hole," Chambliss said. "If we start out slow, we have to find some way to pick it up, especially picking up our play on defense."
Who: UW-Milwaukee (6-1) at University of Wisconsin (5-2)
When: Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004 7:05 p.m.
Where: Kohl Center (17,142), Madison, Wis.
Broadcasts: The game will be televised live on ESPN Plus (WISC-TV 3 in Madison). It can also be heard live on the 46-city Wisconsin Radio Network.
Series notes: This is the 22nd meeting between the two teams. UW has won 20 of the 21 previous games including 12 of 13 in Madison.