WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: UW men's hoops starts Big Ten play vs. Northwestern
EVANSTON, Ill. - The fourth-ranked University of Wisconsin men's basketball team will open its Big Ten schedule tonight against Northwestern at 8,117-seat Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Badgers went 13-0 in their non-conference schedule -- its best start in exactly 100 years, when they started 15-0 early in 1914. Northwestern is 7-6, after losing by a point to DePaul last Friday. Redshirt sophomore Tre Demps scored a career-high 23 points for Northwestern in that game. Also, the Wildcats have stepped up their defense. Their last four opponents shot just 33-percent from the floor, and 21-percent from three-point range. Wisconsin is coming off an 80-43 pounding of Prairie View A&M last Saturday. Sophomore Sam Dekker leads the Badgers with 14-and-a-half points and just over six rebounds per contest. Wisconsin has won 10 straight Big Ten openers.
UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay are both opening their Horizon League men's basketball schedules tonight. UWM is 10-4, as it gets ready to host Youngstown State. Green Bay has the league's best overall non-conference mark at 9-3, as it hosts 8-6 Cleveland State. The Milwaukee Panthers have been off since December 22nd, when they beat Alabama State at a tournament in New Orleans. Senior guard Kyle Kelm had 24 points and 12 rebounds for UWM in that game. The Panthers will play at Youngstown State team that's 9-6. Kendrick Perry, the Horizon pre-season player of the year, averages almost 21 points while shooting 51-percent. The Green Bay men bring a four-game winning streak into their league opener against Cleveland State. Senior center Alec Brown has averaged 21 points, over seven rebounds, and four-and-a-half blocked shots during that four-game stretch.
There's a light schedule in Wisconsin small-college basketball today. The only men's game is set for this afternoon, when Wisconsin Lutheran hosts Cardinal Stritch in a battle of two Milwaukee area schools. In women's games, 22nd-ranked UW-Stevens Point plays at Edgewood in Madison tonight. La Crosse is at home against Mount Mary of Milwaukee. In the lone women's afternoon contest, Lawrence of Appleton entertains Finlandia.
Two men's players from top-ranked UW-Stevens Point made the national Division III Team-of-the-Week from D3hoops.com. They are senior guards Tyler Tillema and Trevor Hass. Tillema has scored at least 20 points in his last three games -- including 33 in a victory over Whitworth at the D3hoops Classic in Las Vegas. Hass was named the tournament's M-V-P, after he tied the Stevens Point school record with 40 points in a win over Whitman. Hass averaged just over 24 points in his last three outings.
Team USA was eliminated today from the World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden. Wisconsin Badgers' forward Nic Kerdiles scored a goal -- but it was not nearly enough, as the Americans fell to Russia 5-3 in a quarter-final game in Sweden. Kerdiles scored the Americans' final goal of the game late in the first period. Russia was up 4-3 when it scored an empty-netter with just under a minute left. The U-S was the defending junior champion. Kerdiles had three shots-on-goal in today's Elite Eight contest. Sun Prairie native Will Butcher of Boston College had two shots-on-goal, plus a two-minute holding penalty. Hudson native Ian McCoshen also played, but had nothing to show for it on the stat sheet.
The Milwaukee Bucks will try to end an 11-game losing streak at Salt Lake City tonight, when the Bucks play their annual road game against Utah. The Bucks and the Jazz have the worst records in their respective conferences -- but both are grooming some very promising rookie talent. Bucks' point guard Brandon Knight will square up against Jazz rookie Trey Burke. Last year's Wooden Award winner from Michigan has averaged 17 points and five-and-a-half rebounds in his last seven games. For the year as a whole, Burke is second among all NBA rookies in scoring with just under 14 a night. The Bucks' are getting some surprise contributions from small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 19-year-old from Greece was expected to be a project when he was drafted last summer. Instead, he's a mainstay in the Milwaukee starting lineup. He has averaged 10 points and eight rebounds since become a starter on December 18th -- all while playing some solid defense. Knight is coming a career-high 37-point performance on New Year's Eve, when the Bucks beat the Lakers in Los Angeles by 15 points. Milwaukee has yet to win back-to-back games, and they'll have another chance this evening. The Bucks have the N-B-A's worst record at 7-24. Utah is worst in the West at 10-24.
The University of Wisconsin football team suffered its most lopsided loss in over three years, after falling by 10 points to South Carolina in yesterday's Capital One Bowl. It was the first time the Badgers lost by double-digits since October of 2010, when Michigan State beat them by a score identical to yesterday's -- 34-24. In 13 losses since then, Wisconsin was beaten by seven points or less. The Badgers' trademark running game was on full display -- but not at the ends of the field, where they failed to score a rushing touchdown despite racking up 295 yards on the ground. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said his defense buckled down in the fourth quarter, as Gamecocks' quarterback Connor Shaw ended his collegiate career as the game's MVP. He threw for 312 yards with three touchdown passes, a rushing score, and a receiving touchdown. It marked the third year in a row that South Carolina had won 11 games. Almost two dozen Badger seniors are leaving school without a bowl victory, after they dropped three straight Rose Bowls before yesterday's defeat. One of those seniors, quarterback Curt Phillips, threw two interceptions after Joel Stave left with a right shoulder injury. The Badgers ended their season at 9-4.
The PGA golf tour begins its 2014 schedule today without a Wisconsin player for the first time in awhile. That's because none of the state's touring pros won a tournament last year -- and the players who did win are the only ones competing in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Steve Stricker of Madison finished in the Top-10 eight times in his last 13 starts, but he remains on a limited schedule which gives him more family-and-business time back home. Brian Wacker, a columnist for PGA Tour.com, does not expect Stricker to play until the WGC's Accenture Match Play Championships in late February. Stricker did not play in any late fall PGA events after the President's Cup -- so he did not earn any Fed-Ex Cup points that were awarded last fall for the first time. Jerry Kelly of Madison is 97th in the Fed-Ex standings going into 2014. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson is 155th.