GAME NOTES: The fourth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers will put their undefeated mark on the line on Saturday afternoon, as their four-game homestand continues in a bout versus the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
EKU came out of the gate strong this season with wins in six of its first seven games, before dropping back-to-back difficult road tilts to NC State (75-56) and VCU (71-68 in OT). The Colonels continued their road trip last Saturday and got back on track with a 76-67 triumph over Longwood.
After starting the season ranked No. 20 in the AP poll, Wisconsin has slowly ascended in the ranks and is now situated in the top-five for first time since reaching No. 1 during the 2006-07 season. The Badgers have captured signature wins over Florida (59-53), Saint Louis (63-57), Virginia (48-38) and Marquette (78-52), and they most recently downed Milwaukee on Wednesday night, 78-52, to improve to 11-0 for the first time since 1993.
In the only previous meeting between the programs, Wisconsin downed EKU in double overtime, 95-89, in the 2005 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Despite falling behind by four at intermission, EKU improved its field goal shooting from 39.3 percent in the first half to 56 percent in the second half as it overtook Longwood for the road victory. Glenn Cosey sparked the comeback with 24 points, doing so on 8-of-16 from the field and 6-of-12 from 3-point range. Orlando Williams was an integral part of the triumph coming off the bench, scoring 20 points in 24 minutes. On the season, the Colonels score 78.3 points per game, which is 13.8 points more than they allow, thanks in large part to connecting on 9.5 3-pointers per game at a 35.4 percent success rate. They also benefit from the nation's second-best turnover margin (+7.7). Cosey (19.3 ppg) lives beyond the arc, draining 34-of-81 from there, and he has also been nearly automatic at the foul line (45-of-49). Marcus Lewis, Corey Walden and Orlando Williams all net between 11.0 and 12.2 points per game.
The Badgers played very well at both ends of the floor in their 26-point rout of Milwaukee, as they shot 50.8 percent from the field (including 10-of-26 from 3-point range) while forcing their opponent into 19 turnovers. Ben Brust led the way with 18 points, while Frank Kaminsky was hot on his heels with 16 points. Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson were also stellar with 12 points apiece, with Dekker also stuffing the stat sheet elsewhere with eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin has gotten used to these type of well-rounded performances, as it shoots just shy of 46 percent from the field for 73.6 points per game, while holding opponents to 42.8 percent shooting and 62.2 points per tilt. Kaminsky (14.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Dekker (14.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are the catalysts in the frontcourt but can also step out on the perimeter, with the duo combining to drain 30 3-pointers. Brust (12.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Jackson (11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Josh Gasser (9.7 ppg) round out a cohesive starting lineup that has been the same in all 11 games.
EKU is far from a pushover. The Colonels can go off from 3-point range at any moment, which would help neutralize Wisconsin's strong interior defense, but playing at home, there's no reason to expect the Badgers' success not to continue.