Preview: Arkansas vs. Wisconsin

B.J. Young (US Presswire)

After a particularly disappointing defensive performance against No.14 Creighton Friday night, Wisconsin has less than 24 hours to regroup against an Arkansas squad that likes to push the tempo, making it a contrast of styles in the Las Vegas Invitational third-place game.

Arkansas (3-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. Wisconsin (3-2, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, November 24, 7 p.m. Central

Arena – Orleans Arena (7,471)

Television - ESPN3

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Phil Dawson and Andy North)

Series – First meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 12.4 ppg)

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 8.2 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.2 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 5.2 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 16.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 4.2 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 10.0 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.4 ppg)

34 Zach Bohannon (6-8 Junior Forward, 2.0 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 4.0 ppg)

Arkansas Probable Starters

0 Rashad Madden (6-5 Sophomore Guard, 7.3 ppg)

1 Mardracus Wade (6-2 Junior Guard, 7.0 ppg)

11 B.J. Young (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 21.3 ppg)

21 Hunter Mickelson (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 7.8 ppg)

33 Marshawn Powell (6-7 Junior Forward, 13.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Rickey Scott (6-3 Junior Guard, 6.3 ppg)

4 Coty Clarke (6-7 Junior Forward, 9.0 ppg)

5 Anthlon Bell (6-3 Freshman Guard, 5.8 ppg)

22 Jacorey Williams (6-8 Freshman Forward, 5.0 ppg)

24 Michael Qualls (6-5 Freshman Guard, 5.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

LAS VEGAS - In a game where the intensity mirrored March's NCAA tournament and not a post-Thanksgiving tilt in a half-empty gym, the University of Wisconsin ran into the type of the team that has sent them packing in the postseason more than once before.

With four returning starters from last year's Sweet 16 team, No.14 Creighton never panicked when Wisconsin made its runs and let its All-American forward take over, as junior Doug McDermott pushed the Bluejays into the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational with a 84-74 victory at Orleans Arena Friday night.

In a game that featured 10 ties and 18 lead changes, it was McDermott – the nation's leading returning scorer – who scored a season and game-high 30 points and did everything right, except shoot a high percentage and have a good assist-to-turnover ratio (1-to-5).

"You put it on the back of your All-American at the end," said associate head coach Greg Gard. "That's a great lesson to younger players out there. It doesn't matter what position you are. You can affect the game in so many ways, as I thought Doug did. He did so many things. He got to the free throw line and was so efficient in what he did."

But even though McDermott – who shot 10-for-23 – carried the Bluejays (4-0) at points, it was the role players that pushed Creighton into the championship against Arizona State.

Ethan Wragge had 17 points, including a 3-pointer that put Creighton up for good, 61-60 with 7:40 left and hit another 3-pointer two minutes later when sophomore guard Traevon Jackson failed to rotate over.

McDermott had five points on the run, Josh Jones hit a jumper and Austin Chapman had two of his career-high 14 points during the stretch, as Creighton shot 62 percent in the second half. The Bluejays also made all six of their field goals and 88 percent from the free throw line for the game and 88.2 percent (15-for-17) in the second half.

After McDermott, no other Creighton played attempted more than seven shots, but the run wiped out Jared Berggren's personal run to give Wisconsin (3-2) a lead.

Scoring 12 straight points and 14 of 17 during an eight-minute stretch in the second half, Berggren helped Wisconsin go on a 12-3 run to regain the lead - 60-58 with 8:10 left in regulation. After that, Creighton took control and never relented.

- Badgernation.com

Series Notes:

Wisconsin is 22-15 against the SEC. Wisconsin has played only two games against the Southeastern Conference since 2008, losing to Florida 10 days ago and beating Vanderbilt in the 2012 NCAA tournament third round.

Arkansas is 18-19 against the Big Ten, having faced every school except Northwestern and Wisconsin.

Arkansas Notes:

Guard BJ Young led the Razorbacks with 29 points and three rebounds in the sophomore's 30th double-digit scoring game of his career.

Sophomore guard Rashad Madden and sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson also recorded double-digit scoring games with 11 and 10 points respectively. Madden also recorded eight boards and three assists leading the Hogs.

Prediction

Arkansas' signature style of play of style is dubbed "The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball." That seems right up the Badgers' alley, doesn't it? The Razorbacks are 11th in the country in points per game (averaging 85.5 points per contest) and UW seems primed for the picking, considering UW has allowed at least 74 points in a four game stretch for the first time since 2007.

That team lost both of those games (at Duke, at Marquette). UW lost only three times the rest of the year and swept the conference championships. So there's no need to push the panic button yet.

Arizona State was able to pull away in the second half when fouls and turnovers limited the Razorbacks ability to wear down its opponents. The Sun Devils also shot 56 percent for the game and limited Arkansas to only 27 second-half points, part of the equation for the 15 point margin of victory.

Wisconsin has to, HAS TO, do a better job defensively and get better guard play. Wisconsin's first-half offensive rebounding was atrocious, some of the rotations between shooters, especially McDermott was poor, and UW's three main guard shot 21 percent. No wonder the performance was so disappointing.

Wisconsin won't have another shot against a top 15 opponent until conference play, so the main key now is to get wins and build momentum. Arkansas does a lot of good things offensively and it stems from the work of Young. A preseason all-conference first-team selection, Young did to Arizona State when McDermott did to Wisconsin, but his team lost when its role players failed to have a similar impact as the Bluejays' pieces. UW needs to do better against a team's top scorer while shutting down easy passing and scoring lanes.

It's still early in the season for must-win games, but this one is important for Wisconsin. The Badgers have to prove that they can shutdown teams with a dynamic scorer, capable role players and a fast tempo. UW rolled the dice by getting into a track meet last night and it busted. The Badgers have to get the odds in their favor by slowing down the tempo, especially against an Arkansas team that likes to push the tempo.

Although this game has me on the fence, I think Wisconsin will do enough good things offensively and make enough defensive improvements to win third place by six points.

Worgull's Record: 4-1

Points off Prediction: 52 (10.4 per game)

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