Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - One of three Big Ten Conference teams ranked in the Associated Press Top-5 this week, the Wisconsin Badgers put their perfect record on the line tonight as they host the Milwaukee Panthers at the Kohl Center.
Ranked fourth in the country, the Badgers have gotten the job done by defeating a collection of opponents that have had a combined winning percentage, at its highest, at about 70.0 percent. Wisconsin had one of its best efforts on Saturday when it took down Marquette in a 70-64 decision. With the victory the Badgers are now 10-0 to start the 2013-14 campaign, their best opening to a season in two decades.
As for the Panthers, they too are enjoying one of their best starts to a season in quite some time. Since bowing to DePaul by an 80-71 score back on Nov. 19, Milwaukee has rattled off five straight wins and is now 9-2 overall. The team's latest victory was a 73-67 final versus Bradley at home on Saturday.
The Badgers hold a commanding 29-1 advantage in the all-time series, posting 20 straight victories since suffering that lone loss, 77-72, back in 1992 at UW Fieldhouse.
Kyle Kelm and Austin Arians both tallied 17 points and Jordan Aaron (13 points) connected on a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the final minutes to help get the Panthers into the win column yet again as they dispensed with Bradley at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee. Also scoring in double figures for the Panthers, who are off to their best start since 2002-13, was Matt Tiby with 15 points before fouling out. Defensively, the hosts held the Braves to just 38.3 percent shooting from the floor, and that included a woeful 2-of-19 from behind the 3-point line.
The perimeter defense has been outstanding for the Panthers during their current win streak, allowing those five opponents to shoot a combined 20- of-102 from beyond the arc. By way of comparison, Milwaukee shooters connected on 19 triples in the last two games alone and have converted 83-of-240 (.346) on the campaign overall. Tiby leads the team in scoring with 14.7 ppg and is also first on the glass with 6.8 rpg, not to mention second with 30 assists, while Aaron (13.5 ppg) and his 24 treys give the Panthers a solid presence on the outside.
Against the Golden Eagles over the weekend, Wisconsin pretty much had the meeting under control, even though the hosts shot only 40.0 percent from the field and 7-of-26 (.269) behind the 3-point line. Outscoring Marquette at the free-throw line, 19-11, and turning the ball over just six times helped for sure, as did having all five starters score in double figures. Sam Dekker led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Ben Brust with 13 points, although he shot just 4-of-11 from the floor. Traevon Jackson contributed 12 points and seven assists, Frank Kaminsky had 11 points and Josh Gasser finished with 10.
One of the most balanced teams in college basketball, the Badgers have five players averaging double digits in scoring, but none put up more than 14.6 ppg which is where Kaminsky currently rests. Dekker (14.4 ppg) matches Kaminsky on the glass with just under six caroms per contest, while Brust (11.4 ppg) and Jackson (11.2 ppg) check in with 5.6 and 5.2 rpg, respectively. Gasser (10.4 ppg) is no stranger to the paint with his 4.6 rpg, although he is also one of the better perimeter shooters for the group with 42.3 percent accuracy on the outside.