Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - Attempting to build upon their perfect start to the season, the 12th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers welcome North Dakota to the Kohl Center for a non-conference clash on Tuesday night.
North Dakota has played just one game this season, as it dismantled Minnesota Morris at home on Nov. 13, 110-69. Although the squad was just 16-17 overall last season, it was still one of the top teams in the Big Sky Conference, going 12-8 in league play, and its accomplishments earned it a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament for its first-ever trip to the postseason.
Wisconsin came into this season with high expectations and a No. 20 ranking in the preseason poll, and its leap all the way to No. 12 this week was due mainly to its outstanding win over nationally-ranked Florida on Nov. 12 (59-53). The Badgers improved to 3-0 on Saturday on the road when they narrowly edged out intrastate rival Green Bay, 69-66.
The Badgers have won all five previous meetings in the all-time series with North Dakota, most recently taking an 85-53 decision in November of 2010.
Although North Dakota's accomplishment in the season opener has to be tempered somewhat considering it came against a Division III foe, the fact that the team logged a .573 field goal percentage in the 41-point victory was nevertheless impressive. Aaron Anderson paced five teammates in double figures with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor. Troy Huff and Lenny Antwi both netted 18 points, Quinton Hooker poured in 17 off the bench, and Jaron Nash finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals. UND should continue to find scoring success this season thanks to the return of Huff (19.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Anderson (13.3 ppg, 3.3 apg), who both played very well a season ago. Nash, a former Texas Tech product, and Hooker, an impressive freshman, will bring balance to the squad.
The Badgers nearly experienced a letdown the last time out on the heels of their big win over Florida, as they trailed Green Bay by two midway through the second half, but they were able to take control of the contest with an 8-0 run and never surrendered the lead from that point on. A modest shooting night (.441) was paced by Frank Kaminsky with 16 points, and he also stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Sam Dekker contributed 13 points and seven boards, and Josh Gasser had 11 points on a perfect 6-of-6 effort at the free-throw line. Wisconsin is known for its defensive pressure, as it ranked seventh in the nation last season in scoring defense (55.9 ppg), but that number has crept up to 64.7 ppg here in the early going. Luckily, the Badgers have been able to score enough points to mask the regression (71.3 ppg), with Dekker leading the way at 15.0 points per game. Gasser, Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson all put up between 10.0 and 11.3 points per tilt.