Nicholls-Wisconsin Preview

BY foxsports • December 12, 2014

Following three straight subpar shooting efforts, Wisconsin appears to be back on track after their best performance in four seasons.

The fifth-ranked Badgers will try to build on that Saturday against Nicholls State and maintain their confidence heading into an eight-day break.

Wisconsin (9-1) shot a combined 39.3 percent over their last three games, but still won two of them, overcoming a season-worst 32.7 percent effort in a 49-38 win at Marquette last Saturday. The Badgers, who shot 51.9 percent in their first six games, connected on 60.9 percent of their attempts Wednesday in a 93-54 rout at Milwaukee.

That showing, which included a 8-for-16 performance from beyond the arc, was their best since shooting 62.0 percent in an 85-53 win over North Dakota on Nov. 16, 2010.

"It was nice to see the ball go through the net," coach Bo Ryan said. "We made some shots today that we were not hitting (at Marquette). Good ball movement, I thought our guys really shared the ball well."

Frank Kaminsky led the way in Milwaukee with 18 points, and Sam Dekker had 17 on 7-of-10 shooting. Dekker, who has been dealing with a sprained ankle, totaled seven points and missed seven of 10 shots in his prior two games.

Nigel Hayes totaled nine points and hit just three of 13 attempts in his last two before scoring 13 on 6-of-8 shooting Wednesday.

"We know we can shoot," Kaminsky said. "We didn't shoot well against Marquette. We came out here and shot the lights out."

After facing Nicholls (1-4) for the first time, Wisconsin won't play again until visiting California on Dec. 22. The Badgers get another break before their non-conference finale against Buffalo on Dec. 28, then open Big Ten play three days later against Penn State.

First, they'll face a team that's coming off easily its best shooting performance of the season. Nicholls hit 54.5 percent of its attempts in an 89-60 victory over NAIA school Loyola University of New Orleans after connecting at 39.3 percent in four straight road games to open this season.

Leading scorer Amin Torres, averaging 11.4 points, had a team-best 15 to lead a season-high four players in double figures.

The Colonels are set to play their second ranked opponent in three games, having already lost to then-No. 19 Michigan 91-62 on Nov. 29.Nicholls has lost its 18 matchups with AP Top 25 teams since 1997-98 by an average of 33.5 points, and its closest game was an 88-78 loss at top-ranked North Carolina on Dec. 19, 2007.

Ryan will seek his 200th win in 222 home games at Wisconsin.