Buffalo seeks upset of No. 6 Wisconsin

Dec 28, 2014 - 3:26 PM Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - The sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers play their final non-conference game of the regular season on Sunday night, as they host the Buffalo Bulls at the Kohl Center.

Buffalo has enjoyed a solid start to the season, winning seven of its first nine outings. The Bulls are in the midst of the three-game win streak, having topped the likes of Robert Morris (74-59), Drexel (80-70) and Niagara (88-62) during the run. UB has been idle since Dec. 19, and will be trying to improve to 5-2 in true road games with a victory here. Following this contest, the Bulls will play two more against non-league foes before kicking off Mid- American Conference action at Miami-Ohio on Jan. 7.

Wisconsin has won 11 of its initial 12 games of the 2014-15 campaign, marking the third time under head coach Bo Ryan that the team has begun a season 11-1 or better. The Badgers, who have won 50 consecutive regular-season, non- conference games against unranked opponents, have won four in a row since suffering their lone defeat at home to Duke on Dec. 3 (78-70). UW's most recent triumph came in a 68-56 decision at California last Monday, and it will open Big Ten Conference play versus visiting Penn State on New Year's Eve.

This bout marks the first-ever meeting between Buffalo and Wisconsin in men's basketball.

Buffalo performed well at both ends of the court in its recent win over Niagara, as the Bulls shot an even 50 percent from the field while holding the Purple Eagles to just 35.8 percent. Niagara actually shot better from 3-point range (9-of-21, .429), but UB was also on fire from distance, draining 7-of-13 tries (.538). The Bulls scored 27 points at the foul line compared to 15 for the Purple Eagles, who also turned the ball over 15 times while being battered on the boards to the tune of a 48-27 rebounding deficit. Justin Moss scored 24 points, Shannon Evans had 20, Jarryn Skeete 17 and Xavier Ford 11 for Buffalo in the winning effort.

The Bulls are scoring 72.4 ppg while permitting 65.6 ppg, and Evans paces the team with 14.8 ppg while Skeete rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.9 ppg. Lamonte Bearden is close to joining the ranks as he nets 9.0 ppg, and he has combined with Evans to dish out 85 of the team's 121 assists. Ford spearheads the team's effort on the glass with 7.1 rpg, and the Bulls are allowing the opposition to connect on only 39.7 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 29.0 percent showing from beyond the arc. They own narrow edges in both rebounding (+2.2) and turnovers (+1.0).

Nigel Hayes recorded a double-double consisting of 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky scored 14 points apiece to help lead Wisconsin to its recent win at California. The Badgers found the bottom of the net on 43.6 percent of their total shots, which included just a 3-of-11 showing from 3-point land, but they held the Golden Bears to only 38.9 percent overall efficiency. A 17-9 edge in points at the foul line helped, as did a 39-29 advantage in rebounds. Both teams took extremely good care of the basketball, turning it over only six times each.

Kaminsky continues to live up to his billing at the Big Ten's preseason Player of the Year, as he is averaging 15.8 points and 7.7 caroms per contest, while Hayes turns in 12.2 points and a club-best 8.1 rebounds per game. Add in Dekker's 12.0 ppg and Traevon Jackson's 9.1 ppg and it's not difficult to see why UW is putting up 74 ppg. Where the team really excels though, is at the defensive end as foes are being held to just 52.1 ppg, which ranks as the lowest yield in the Big Ten and one of the lowest in the nation. The Badgers also own favorable margins in rebounding (+8.4) and turnovers (+4.2).

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