In its last game before final exams, the University of Wisconsin-Madison men’s basketball team will host UW-Green Bay Wednesday night at the Kohl Center.
The 14th-ranked Badgers (9-2) are victors of five straight, and are coming off of a 93-84 win over Marquette. The Phoenix (4-5) have lost three of their last four games.
Wisconsin led by as much as 30 against UW-Green Bay last year, but saw that margin dwindle to three before winning 84-79. Turnovers served as the primary reason for the Phoenix’s comeback — UW coughed up the ball 26 times against their full-court press.
Senior guard Bronson Koenig turned it over eight times, a career-high. He called it one of the worst games in his career Monday, and added that his roommates still chide him anytime the city of Green Bay is mentioned.
“They’re going to try to get up into us and pressure us and stuff like that,” Koenig said. “I think we’re much better this year with the emphasis the coaches have put on taking care of the ball, and we’ve done a lot better job of that as of late.”
Last year’s game was also UW head coach Greg Gard’s first game at the helm. Bo Ryan retired eight days before the matchup.
UW associate head coach Lamont Paris said a long time ago, a wise coach told him that four or five times a season coaches won’t recognize their teams during film studies. Paris hopes three of those instances are because the team is playing so well. But his assessment of the Badgers’ play against the Phoenix last year fell into the opposite category.
“We were surprised we didn’t handle the situations,” Paris said. “Some of the decisions we were making were uncharacteristic of how we normally play.”
Paris, like Koenig, said last year’s team was better at turning over opponents compared to this year’s, but it’s something UW will prepare for.
“I think last year they were probably better,” Paris said. “I think the numbers would bear out better that way. I think they were a little more aggressive at times too. Now, they’re getting more aggressive over the last few games.”
Statistically, the discrepancy from year-to-year isn’t drastic. The Phoenix forced 16.9 turnovers per game last season and have opponents turning it over 15.9 times per game this season.
So far on the season, UW-Green Bay allows 78.8 points per game, which is close to what UW averages per game offensively (77.4). The difference is that UW’s defense ranks 21st in the nation in terms of points allowed (61.4).
Charles Cooper (13.6 points per game) leads the Phoenix offensively, with Trevor Anderson (12.1 ppg) providing scoring support.
Tip off is set for 8 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.