Colonels face tall task in clash with fifth-ranked Badgers

Dec 13, 2014 - 3:49 PM Madison, WI ( - The fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers return to the friendly confines of the Kohl Center on Saturday afternoon, as they play host to the Colonels of Nicholls State.

Nicholls enters the fray having won just once in five opportunities this season, with that lone triumph coming in its most recent outing against visiting Loyola (New Orleans) last Saturday, 89-60. It marked the first home game for the Colonels, who will play three of their next four in Thibodaux, Louisiana before opening Southland Conference play at Lamar on Jan. 3.

Wisconsin is a stellar 9-1 on the young season, with its only setback coming in an 80-70 decision at home against Duke on Dec. 3. Since then, the Badgers have won a pair of road tilts against in-state foes Marquette (49-38) and Milwaukee (93-54). This clash is the first of three of the next four UW will play at home, and the team will open its Big Ten Conference slate against visiting Penn State on New Year's Eve.

This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.

Nicholls had a relatively easy time of it at both ends of the court last weekend against Loyola, as the Colonels knocked down 54.5 percent of their total shots and saw four players reach double figures, while holding the Wolf Pack to 37.3 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dismal 22.2 percent effort from 3-point range. Add in a 47-30 advantage on the glass, and the fact that Nicholls doubled up Loyola in points in the paint (56-28), and it's no wonder the Colonels were able to secure the 29-point triumph. Amin Torres led the home team with 15 points off the bench, the bulk of which came on the three 3-pointers he hit in only 14 minutes of action. Sam McBeath logged a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the winning side.

Despite not starting a single game this season, Torres leads the Colonels in scoring with his 11.4 ppg. He is followed closely by Ja'Dante' Frye and T.J. Carpenter with 10.6 and 10.4 ppg, respectively, and the team as a whole is netting 66 ppg while permitting an unsightly 80.8 ppg. Nicholls has only been successful on 29.8 percent of its long-range launches, and is converting only 59.7 percent of its free throws. Piling on even more, the Colonels are being outrebounded by 10.8 rpg, and they are committing an average of 15 turnovers per outing.

Frank Kaminsky continued his torrid pace to start the season in Wisconsin's rout of Milwaukee on Wednesday, as he finished with 18 points thanks to a 7- of-14 shooting effort. Sam Dekker went 7-of-10 from the field to net 17 points, Nigel Hayes added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Bronson Koenig chipped in 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench. The Badgers were scorching hot from the field, shooting 65.6 percent in the second half after draining 56.3 percent in the opening frame. Conversely, the Panthers made good on only 34.6 percent of their total shots, while committing 14 turnovers to only four for Wisconsin.

Kaminsky is averaging 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest for a Wisconsin club that puts up 73.4 ppg while allowing only 52.6 ppg (tops in the Big Ten, eighth-best nationally). Hayes (11.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Dekker (11.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Traevon Jackson (10.0 ppg, 2.9 apg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers, but it really is the team's defensive prowess that has it off to such a tremendous start. Opponents are shooting a mere 38.6 percent from the floor, and the Badgers are +7.6 in rebounding margin and +3.9 in turnover differential.

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