The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team will close its four-game home stand Wednesday night against Idaho State at the Kohl Center.
Over the last week and a half, home has been kind to the Badgers. They blew out Prairie View A&M and won handily against half of last season’s Final Four field — Syracuse and Oklahoma.
The No. 17 Badgers (7-2) will try and avoid a massive letdown this Wednesday against Idaho State (1-7), who ranks 272nd in the nation according to kenpom.com before setting their sights on an in-state matchup against Marquette Saturday.
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UW assistant coach Howard Moore said he thinks the team, despite impressive wins last week, has yet to play their best ball.
“We didn’t play our best game last Saturday,” Moore said. “Obviously against an opponent that can be dangerous, like Idaho State, they can expose you on some of the things we didn’t handle well for 30 minutes [against Oklahoma].”
The Bengals have allowed 80 points per game to begin the season, which is tied for 304th in the nation. Wisconsin has averaged 87.3 points per game on the home stand while giving up an average of 60 points across those three games.
Despite playing in just five games this season, senior guard Ethan Telfair leads Idaho State’s offensive attack with 19.8 points per game. Freshman guard Brandon Boyd (14.3 ppg) is the team’s second-leading scorer. The Bengals shoot 39.7 percent from 3-point range, which is nearly five percentage points higher than what the Badgers shoot from beyond the arc (34.8 percent).
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Given the tough non-conference slate Wisconsin has run through to begin this season, it will be important to handle business as usual, even if the opponent has a dramatic drop-off in talent.
“We just got to treat this game like any other one — just like a North Carolina or an Oklahoma,” sophomore forward Charlie Thomas said. “We can’t take any steps back, so go out here, don’t underestimate them. Just play this game like a championship.”
Senior forward Nigel Hayes, who has averaged 18 points and 5.7 rebounds over last three games, is trending up for UW and demonstrating his ability to impact the game in nearly ever facet.
Idaho State will have their hands full with him, but a team with nothing to lose always poses a challenge, Moore said.
“We just have to make sure that we’re playing in a mold where it’s all about our principles, our style of play, what we do well,” Moore said. “And it’s all about staying away from what we don’t do well.”