After recording only its third win of the season last Saturday against Ohio, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team will stay in the Buckeye state when they travel to Cincinnati to take on Xavier tonight.
On Saturday the Badgers (3-5) were able to overcome an early deficit to notch a come-from-behind victory over Ohio. Once again the Badgers showed their youthfulness and inexperience as they took an early lead, only to see it disappear.
However, UW was finally able to pull off the win thanks to a 16-4 run to open up the second half. The Badgers have lost their five games by an average of 3.2 points per game. Despite the five losses, UW is outscoring its opponents 68.5 to 66.1 points. Their next challenge against Xavier will pit Wisconsin against a team that is averaging 80 points per game while holding opponents to 61.7 points per game.
The Musketeers (4-2) are coming off a 108-57 victory over Long Island and the match-up against the Badgers will mark the second Big Ten opponent that Xavier will face this season. Xavier was defeated 70-66 by Purdue last week. The Musketeers’ first loss of the season came early on when they dropped a 72-60 decision to now No. 3 Missouri.
Once again Wisconsin will have to deal with handling a top-notch scoring threat. Against Temple UW was unable to contain Lynn Greer as he lit the court up for 47 points, including the two three-pointers to send the game into overtime — twice. Leading the charge for XU will be junior David West.
The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 22.2 points per game while adding 11.2 boards per game to the mix. In last Saturday’s game against Long Island, West recorded the first triple-double in school history when he chipped in 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. West’s triple-double came one game after recording his 1,000th point against Purdue, a game which saw him scoring a career-high 31 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the loss.
While West is the go-to guy for Xavier, there are still multiple scoring threats to be wary of. Sophomore guard Romain Sato is contributing 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game and fellow guard Lionel Chalmers is adding 10.5 points and 4.3 assists per game. Alongside West down low will be forward Kevin Frey. The 6-foot-8 senior is averaging 9.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.
Leading the way for Wisconsin will be freshman Devin Harris. Harris is averaging 16.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
As a true freshman, Harris has stepped up and made a huge impact on an inexperienced squad. He leads the team with seven blocks, and at the same time is 23 of 59 from three-point land.
As of late, the Badgers’ other scoring threat has come from the bench. Sophomore guard Freddie Owens has averaged 10.8 points in his backup role, including a career-high 23 points against Temple. Junior guard Kirk Penney has added 10.4 points per game, but also leads the team with 24 turnovers.
Matching up with West and Frey down low will be senior forward Charlie Wills and sophomore forward Dave Mader.
Wills leads the team with 6.1 boards per game and also has added 8.1 points per contest. Mader, who stands 6-foot-11, has only mustered 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. However, freshman forward Mike Wilkinson has stepped in to add 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds a game.