UMKC-Wisconsin Preview

BY foxsports • November 21, 2011

While its best player has yet to get going offensively, Wisconsin continues to roll behind a tremendous defensive effort.

On the verge of their first 4-0 start in three seasons, the 11th-ranked Badgers host UMKC on Tuesday night as part of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

Wisconsin (3-0) led the Big Ten in scoring defense the last two seasons and has proved to be just as dominant this season, holding opponents to 35.0 points per game and 28.3 percent shooting.

"I know they're making the effort (defensively) and they're not settling for being average," coach Bo Ryan said of his players. "They know what's been before them and they know what they're trying to do because they know what they want to leave behind when they're done playing here. If you have people that commit to that, it tends to make the whole better."

The Badgers continued their defensive prowess in a 69-33 rout of Wofford on Saturday, limiting the Terriers to 26.5 percent from the field while outrebounding them 43-22.

"It's such a grind, such a grind playing the Badgers," Wofford coach Mike Young said.

Josh Gasser, who averaged 5.9 points as a freshman, has picked up the pace offensively and ranks second on the team with 11.7 points per game. Gasser has done the majority of his damage from 3-point range, making nine of 10 attempts on the season.

He went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc in scoring a season-high 16 points Saturday.

"First of all you've got to believe it's going in. His follow through and his trajectory of the ball help," Ryan said. "He's practiced and he's worked. He wants to be a contributor, and contribute he has."

Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren also came up big, scoring 13 points apiece. Preseason All-American Jordan Taylor, though, had another quiet night, scoring four points on 2-of-3 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists.

Taylor, fourth in the league with 18.1 points per game last season, is averaging 8.0. However, the senior is averaging career bests of 5.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 47.6 percent from the floor and 57.1 percent from 3-point range in the early going.

"He's just playing real team ball right now," Evans said. "We know what he can do and what he'll need to do eventually down the line."

With 245 victories at Wisconsin, Ryan can tie Hall of Famer Walter Meanwell for second on the school's all-time list Tuesday. He seems likely to do that given the Badgers' recent success at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin has won 40 of its last 41 home games, including 22 in a row by an average of 21.5 points.

UMKC (1-3), which has never faced the Badgers, is shooting 39.5 percent on the season. The Kangaroos, coming off a 58-54 defeat at Utah Valley on Saturday, have been outscored by an average of 19.5 points during a six-game road skid against non-conference opponents.

Guard Reggie Chamberlain, among the Summit League leaders with 17.8 points per game, scored a game-high 19 on Saturday while Trinity Hall added 11. The rest of the team, however, shot 9 of 27.

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