Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Wisconsin Badgers continue their season-opening four-game homestand on Wednesday night when they welcome intrastate rival the Green Bay Phoenix to the Kohl Center.
Green Bay tipped off its season on Saturday afternoon at home and took care of business against Illinois-Springfield, 88-57. It was the start the Phoenix were looking for after a 24-win season in 2013-14.
Although Wisconsin hasn't faced very difficult challenges early in the season, it has nonetheless lived up to its billing as the No. 3 team in the nation with a pair of dominant victories over Northern Kentucky (62-31) and Chattanooga (89-45). The Badgers have won 18 straight non-conference games and are 83-2 in coach Bo Ryan's tenure in home game against teams outside the six major conferences.
Wisconsin has handled Green Bay in the all-time series by winning 19-of-20 matchups. Last season's matchup in Green Bay was close, but the Badgers pulled out a 69-66 win.
The Phoenix barely broke a sweat in their opener, as they led Illinois- Springfield by as many as 39 before settling in on a 31-point victory. In addition to shooting an impressive 47.7 percent from the field, including 9- of-24 from 3-point range, they also played great defense in holding their opponent to just 32.8 percent shooting.
Leading the way was the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes, who scored 22 points on 8-of-11 from the field to go with six assists. Greg Mays and Jordan Fouse netted 14 and 10 points, respectively, with each hauling in six rebounds. In all, 12 players scored in the victory.
Wisconsin too had an easy victory in its most recent contest, running out to a commanding 52-21 lead at intermission and cruising from there to a 44-point win. The team outshot Chattanooga from the field in the dominant effort, 53.3 percent to 32.1 percent, while outscoring it in the paint, 42-18. Sam Dekker posted a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 from the field. Nigel Hayes (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Frank Kaminsky (15 points, 10 rebounds) both logged double-doubles, Josh Gasser added nine points and Vitto Brown came off the bench to haul in nine rebounds.
The Badgers hold staggering advantages in terms of both scoring (+37.5) and rebounding margins (+21.0) on the young season. Dekker paces the squad with 16.5 ppg, while Kaminsky (15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg), Traevon Jackson (12.5 ppg) and Hayes (10.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg) have all been big factors as well.