Wisconsin-BYU Preview

Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser has made big strides in his

sophomore season.

Gasser will look to help the 11th-ranked Badgers start 6-0 for

the first time in 15 years when they take on BYU in the

championship game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Saturday

night in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Wisconsin (5-0) is off to its best start since 2007-08 after

defeating Bradley 66-43 on Friday night. Gasser, Jordan Taylor and

Ryan Evans each scored 15 points and the Badgers recorded 18 points

off turnovers while holding the Braves to 34.0 percent


“Overall we played pretty well,” Gasser said. “We moved the ball

well, we got good shots, we knocked them down when we needed too.

And defensively we were solid all night. We weren’t great, but we

were good enough.”

It was another sharp defensive night for Wisconsin, which is

giving up 35.8 points per game and limiting opponents to 27.9

percent shooting. The Badgers aren’t likely to sustain those

numbers next week as its schedule is about to get far tougher with

upcoming games against No. 1 North Carolina and No. 16


While stifling defense has long been a Wisconsin hallmark under

coach Bo Ryan, this season’s team also features some offensive


Gasser has emerged as a top outside threat. The sophomore guard

made three of his four 3-point attempts to improve to 14 of 17 from

beyond the arc this season. After averaging 5.9 points and shooting

30.2 percent from 3-point range as a freshman, Gasser is scoring

11.6 points per game in 2011-12.

He’s one reason why, despite losing two of its top three scorers

from last season’s 25-win team, Wisconsin is in position to start

6-0 for the first time since 1996-97.

Sophomore Ben Brust has also stepped up, averaging 11.2 points

while making 12 of 27 3-point attempts.

However, the Badgers will now face a BYU team that’s also

skilled at hitting from long range. The Cougars (4-1) have made 35

3-pointers in their last three games, including an 8-of-18 effort

in Friday’s 76-55 semifinal win over Nevada.

Charles Abouo scored 22 points – hitting 4 of 5 3-point attempts

– and Noah Hartsock added 21 for BYU, which shot 54.4 percent

overall and never looked back after a 16-0 run in the first


Freshman guard Anson Winder made his first career start against

Nevada and finished with nine points, four assists and four steals.

BYU has used three different starting lineups in the quest to

combat its slow starts. The Cougars have had a lead of more than

nine points at the break only once.

“You get a few guys that are inexperienced and haven’t played

much on the road,” coach Dave Rose said. “I really felt like we had

a couple guys really bail us out. Noah did a great job and Charles

too. That can help other guys relax.”

Wisconsin defeated BYU in 32-16 in 1931, the only previous

meeting between the schools.