Krueger: Ready for the Heart of Texas?

After a solid performance against Coppin State on Saturday night, Wisconsin, in order to upset the Texas Longhorns for the second year in a row, will need to follow the same script that they did in a victory over the Eagles, but at a much higher level.

MADISON - In their last tune-up before No. 5 Texas comes to town for a holiday visit, Wisconsin downed Coppin State in a first half that was dominated by one player from each team - Wisconsin's Jon Leuer and Coppin State's Tywain McKee each had 12 for their respective clubs.

McKee has consistently been the Eagles' best player, leading them in points, rebounds, assists and steals this year and looked every bit like a scorer. The 6-foot-2 senior scored in a variety of ways in the first half Saturday night, displaying both the ability to hit the outside jumper and to get into the lane and finish the play. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan made some defensive adjustments at halftime, and a combination of Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor held McKee largely in check in the second frame, holding State's leading scorer to only four points in the second 20 minutes.

"I thought the job we did on [Tywain] McKee was a lot better than the job we did in the first half," Ryan said. "He's their man. He can do a lot of things to hurt you. But I don't think he hit a three in the second half. We forced him to give it up to some other guys."

When the Badgers host Texas on Tuesday night, UW's guards will have a similar challenge in containing Longhorns' standout A.J. Abrams. Abrams, like McKee, is a versatile guard who is just as capable of hitting the outside shot as he is slashing to the basket.

However, unlike when facing Coppin State, Wisconsin won't be content to just force Abrams to give the ball up. As to be expected when facing a top-ranked team, Texas features a host of other players capable of putting up big numbers.

The Badgers were able to dispatch the Eagles, despite allowing over 40 percent shooting, by dominating on the glass. Wisconsin used their size advantage to out rebound the Eagles 36-19, including a 12-4 advantage on the offensive boards.

"We worried about executing and we got hurt on the offensive rebounds and second shots," Coppin State Coach Ron Mitchell said. "I thought we did a pretty good job initially of making stops but they pounded the glass pretty hard against us."

If UW is going to be successful against the top-notch teams, the Badgers are going to have to work even harder on the glass. Texas features four players listed at 6-10, three of which average over 10 minutes per game, and are beating their opponents on the glass by an average of over four per game. Rebounding will be much more of a challenge than it was against the Eagles, whose tallest player to see the floor was only 6-8.

Additionally, UW is going to have to get solid guard play like they did against the Eagles. UW's starting backcourt of Hughes and Jason Bohannon recorded a total of six assists and only one turnover against CSU.

"On offense, we just made the extra pass and looked for the open shot," Bohannon simply explained.

Texas' defense does a good job of pressuring ball handlers on the perimeter and Badger guards will need to take as good of care of the ball Tuesday as they did against Coppin State.

Although Coppin State's level of play hardly compares to what Texas is likely to bring to the Kohl Center, the Badger's performance against the Eagles can serve as a preview for their matchup with the Longhorns. If Ryan's squad has an upset next week on their Christmas list, they are going to have to do many of the same things they did Saturday night, but at a higher level.

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