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November 23, 2013

Preview: No. 12 UW vs Oral Roberts





MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Badgers close out a three-game home stand when they play host to Oral Roberts Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

For the second time in three seasons, Wisconsin (5-0) is off to a perfect 5-0 start. A win on Saturday over Oral Roberts (2-2) would see the Badgers tie their best start to a regular season in the Bo Ryan era as they started 6-0 to begin the 2011-12 season.

The early season success can be attributed to the Badgers' hot offensive start, with the team averaging a cool 81 points per game on 49.8 percent shooting from the field and 48.5 percent from 3-point range.

Wisconsin has four players averaging double figures (Frank Kaminsky (16.6), Sam Dekker (15.6), Ben Brust (12.6), and Traevon Jackson (11.8)). The Badgers had six players reach that mark in a game for the first time since 1995 when Josh Gasser and Bronson Koenig joined in on the double-digit festivities in Thursday night's 88-64 win over Bowling Green.

"I think it's the unselfishness of our team," Dekker said of the key to this team's balance. "We don't mind giving up our shot to get a better shot for someone. We don't have guys who need to get theirs, we have guys who will drive and kick and not put up a bad shot in order to get a good shot for the team and that's what makes a team good. Any team can have shot-takers, but you have to have shot-makers and we have some of the best shooters in the country."

The Badgers are naturally pleased with their offensive production so far as it has helped them go undefeated in five games to start the season, but that does not mean they are satisfied and nor does it mean there is no work left to be done.

"Our spacing hasn't been that good and a lot of times we get stagnant on our cuts," Dekker said. "We don't run our stuff as sharply as we should, and although we're still putting up points, I think we could do much better by getting better looks because sometimes we have to put up shots late in the shot clock. If we run our stuff better, we'll be able to get better and quicker looks."

On the defensive side of the ball, things have not gone as smoothly. Wisconsin is allowing an average of 68.6 points per game this season after giving up 59.0 or less in each of the previous seven seasons.

"Our front court has always been pretty experienced and now with Sam playing the four, Frank being the five-man, Nigel coming in as a freshman, we just have a different mix of guys playing different positions," Gasser said. "I think it's all just a mindset; we have to just buckle down and really take pride in our defense. We need to get our confidence back in our defense."

The Badgers took strides in Thursday night's game against Bowling Green as they did not allow a 20-point scorer for the first time all season, holding Spencer Parker to 17 points.

Of course, keeping an opposing player from scoring 20 does not sound like a typical goal from a Bo Ryan-coached defense and the Badgers know that. Getting back to their key principles on the defensive end of the floor is a must against Oral Roberts on Saturday night.

"Shots aren't going to fall like they did [Thursday] all the time," Gasser explained. "Sometimes the ball is just not going to go in so you have to pride yourself on the defensive end because it's something that can always stay consistent. The energy, the passion that you bring to your defense can win or lose you any game. No matter how many points you score, you still have to defend."

Oral Roberts will be without its leading scorer Obi Emegano, who was averaging 23.3 points per game through the first three games of the season before scoring six points in seven minutes of playing time in the team's 72-55 loss to Saint Louis on Thursday. Emegano did not return to the game after injuring his knee in the early part of Thursday night's game.

The head coach of the Golden Eagles, Scott Sutton, said after the game of Emegano's injury, "It didn't look good. Devastating blow…Obi did so many great things for this team."

Game Info

When and Where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kohl Center

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 1070 AM, 101.5 FM

WISCONSIN BADGERS (5-0)

Coach: Bo Ryan, 296-113 in his 13th season at Wisconsin.

Probable starters (height, year, ppg.)

1 Ben Brust 6-1 Sr. 12.6

12 Traevon Jackson 6-2 Jr. 11.8

15 Sam Dekker 6-7 So. 15.6

21 Josh Gasser 6-3 Jr. 9.8

44 Frank Kaminsky 7-0 Jr. 16.6

Key reserves (height, year, ppg.)

10 Nigel Hayes 6-7 Fr. 4.8

13 Duje Dukan 6-9 Jr. 4.6

24 Bronson Koenig 6-3 Fr. 5.5

Quick hits: UW is 0-2 all-time vs. Oral Roberts, having lost to the Golden Eagles 90-76 on December 4, 1972, and 102-69 on December 29, 1978…The Badgers will try to match their best start under Bo Ryan. Wisconsin started 6-0 in 2011….Wisconsin is shooting 48.5 percent from 3-point range. Only five teams in Division 1 have a higher percentage, with none of the five coming from power-six conferences…Wisconsin has had four different players lead the team in scoring through five games this season.

ORAL ROBERTS GOLDEN EAGLES (2-2)

Coach: Scott Sutton, 272-179 in his 15th season at Oral Roberts

Probable starters (height, year, ppg.)

0 Jabbar Singleton 6-0 Fr. 1.5

11 Shawn Glover 6-7 Sr. 18.3

12 D.J. Jackson 6-0 So. 9.3

24 Korey Billbury 6-3 So. 10.0

31 Jorden Kaufman 7-0 So. 3.3

Key reserves (height, year, ppg.)

1 Bobby Word 6-4 Fr. 0.7

5 Brandon Conley 6-6 So. 4.0

22 Adrion Webber 6-5 Jr. 0.5

Quick hits: Oral Roberts will be without its leading scorer Obi Emegano who left Thursday night's game with a right injury. Coming into Thursday's game, Emegano was averaging 23.3 points per game…Oral Roberts had a three-point lead at halftime against the Badgers' November 26th opponent, Saint Louis, before the Billikens pulled away to win by 17…In their only matchup against a ranked opponent last season, Oral Roberts fell 89-64 to then-No. 4 Arizona on December 18.

Why you should worry: Oral Roberts posses a legitimate threat down low with Glover, who's 67 shots on the season are 29 more than the next closest Golden Eagle, and Jorden Kaufman, who's 7-foot frame will limit the Badgers' ability to control the glass.

Why you shouldn't worry: The Badgers are 86-4 at home against unranked non-conference opponents in the Bo Ryan era...


For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow Zack on Twitter.



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