The Catamounts have struggled to a 5-8 record, with losses to a handful of past or future Badger opponents: Marquette (75-64), Penn State (78-63), Alabama (97-66) and Iowa (88-75). Western Carolina is led by 6-foot-10 junior center David Berghoefer, a Cross Plains, Wis., native who played his high school basketball at Middleton. He paces the Catamounts with 14.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.
Berghoefer had a homecoming of sorts earlier this season as well, when Western Carolina played three games at the Black Coaches Association Classic in Milwaukee, including a matchup with Marquette. He averaged 17.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in those three contests. Against Marquette he scored 20 points while snagging six rebounds and four steals. Western Carolina actually led that game at halftime (38-33), before the Golden Eagles rallied in the second session.
Two other Catamounts average double-figure scoring: junior guard/forward Corey Muirhead (12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds per game) and reserve forward Rans Brempong (10.2, 6.4), a 6-8 fifth-year senior from Ontario.
After holding one dynamic Southern Conference shot blocker in check Thursday evening, the Badgers will try to do the same tonight. UNC Greensboro's Kyle Hines came to the Kohl Center with 44 blocked shots in nine games but had just one against UW. Brempong has 40 blocks this year and 265 in his career — the second highest total in Southern Conference history.
Since losing to Marquette Dec. 15, Wisconsin has won two straight games by a combined 61 points. The Badgers are doing it with defense, having allowed just 45 points per game in wins over UW-Milwaukee and UNC Greensboro. UWM and UNCG combined to shoot 34 percent in those contests, 14 percent (4 of 29) on 3-pointers, with 37 turnovers and just 16 assists.
After a slow start Thursday, Wisconsin's offense exploded in the second half against UNC Greensboro, with 56 points on 64 percent shooting. The Badgers benefited from 17 second-half points by sophomore forward Alando Tucker and from senior point guard Sharif Chambliss' career-high nine assists.
As a team, Wisconsin dished out 22 assists Thursday, its most since having 22 against UW-Milwaukee, Dec. 13, 2003.
What: Western Carolina (5-8) at University of Wisconsin (7-2)
When: Monday, Dec. 27, 2004, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Kohl Center (17,142), Madison, Wis.
Broadcasts: The game will be televised on tape delay by Wisconsin Public Television and will be broadcast live on the 46-city Wisconsin Radio Network.
Series Notes: This will be the first meeting between the two teams. Wisconsin is 4-1 all-time against teams from the Southern Conference, including an 85-53 win over UNC Greensboro Dec. 23. The Catamounts are 0-7 all-time against Big Ten teams.