WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Badgers fall to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl
ORLANDO -- Wisconsin has lost four straight bowl games, after falling to Number-eight South Carolina 34-to-24 at yesterday's Capital One Bowl in Orlando. The 19th-ranked Badgers had trouble controlling Gamecocks' quarterback Connor Shaw. The senior ended his college career with three touchdown passes, a rushing T-D, and a receiving score. Shaw completed 22-of-25 passes for 312 yards, and seemed to have no problem slicing through the Badgers' secondary. Wisconsin had a one-point lead at the half, and a 35-yard field goal from Jack Russell gave the Badgers a 17-13 lead after the first drive of the second half. South Carolina scored twice to go up by 10. Kenzel Doe then ran back a kickoff 91 yards to get Wisconsin back to within three. It was the Badgers' first kickoff touchdown return since 2010. Shaw responded with a one-yard T-D run, and South Carolina never looked back. Bruce Ellington was the Gamecocks' top receiver with six catches for 140 yards and two scores. Shaq Roland had 112 receiving yards on six receptions. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said the Badgers lost way too many contested catches to the Gamecocks' fast receivers. He called it a "defining moment" which the Badgers must address. Wisconsin's two top running backs rushed for a combined 250 yards. Melvin Gordon had 143 yards on 25 carries, and James White had 12 runs for 107 yards. Badgers' quarterback Joel Stave completed 9-of-13 passes for 80 yards and two scores before he left with a right shoulder injury. His main backup, Curt Phillips, completed 7-of-12 for 37 yards with two late picks. Wisconsin ended its first season under coach Andersen at 9-and-4. South Carolina finished 11-and-2. After the game, Gamecocks' defensive end Jadeveon Clowney told a T-V reporter he would skip his senior year and enter the N-F-L Draft.
The Green Bay Packers had a light walk-through yesterday to start working on their game plan for Sunday's N-F-C Wild Card home contest against San Francisco. Packers' running back Eddie Lacy walked around without the walking boot he's had since spraining his right ankle December 8th. Coach Mike McCarthy expects Lacy to practice today and play against the 49'ers. McCarthy said a full-fledged practice with pads will take place mostly outdoors today, to help get the team ready for the cold weather expected on Sunday. After a warmer day with snow on Saturday, the Weather Channel says the high Sunday will be down to four-above with a low of minus-15 on Sunday night. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he'd be okay with quote, "a good hand warmer, and some sort of heat" around his head. Rodgers says he'll have to make small adjustments, because the cold changes the texture of the ball. The 49'ers practiced yesterday. They plan to leave tomorrow for Green Bay, so they can used to the cold weekend ahead. Niners' quarterback Colin Kaepernick grew up in the Fond du Lac and New London areas -- and he said the cold is something which has to be blocked out.
The Packers have chosen six captains for the playoffs. The players selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson on offense, safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker A-J Hawk on defense, and kicker Mason Crosby and corner Jarrett Bush for the special teams. Unlike most teams, the Packers rotate captains during the regular season -- and nobody wears the special "C" designation on their uniforms until the post-season. Nelson and Burnett will be playoff captains for the first time. Rodgers has the most selections with five.
The Milwaukee Bucks will play their first game of the New Year tonight at Utah. The team did not practice yesterday before leaving Los Angeles, where the Bucks beat the Lakers by 15 points on Tuesday night. Power forward Ersan Ilyasova said the strength in his injured right ankle is getting better. He had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while battling inside against Lakers' big man Pau Gasol. Ilyasova says he's finally starting to find his rhythm. Bucks' coach Larry Drew said he believed enough in Ilyasova to start him, after he only hit 4-of-21 shots in his previous two games -- losses to Brookyn and Minnesota. All Milwaukee starters in the front court had double-digit rebounds against the Lakers. Center Larry Sanders and small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo each snagged 11 boards. The Bucks are 7-and-24. They'll play a Jazz team that's 10-and-24.
The U-W Green Bay women's basketball crushed Maine at home, 72-to-49 on New Year's Day. The Phoenix led by nine at the break. Maine got to within six with almost 12 minutes left. Green Bay then pulled away with an 11-3 run. The Phoenix out-shot Maine 47-to-38 percent. Green Bay dominated the paint with a 44-16 scoring edge, and a 38-33 rebounding advantage. Megan Lukan led the Phoenix with 12 points and a career-high 13 assists. All 12 Green Bay players saw action, and 10 scored at least one point. Liz Wood had nine for Maine, which fell to 6-and-7. Green Bay is now 7-and-5, and will open its conference schedule next Wednesday at home against Illinois-Chicago. Tonight, the fourth-ranked Wisconsin men will open their Big Ten season at Northwestern. The U-W Milwaukee men will host Youngstown State in the Horizon League. And the Green Bay men are at home against Cleveland State.
Brother-and-sister hockey standouts Phil and Amanda Kessel were among 10 players with Wisconsin ties who were named yesterday to the U-S Olympic hockey teams. Both are from the Madison area. Wing player Phil Kessel is an N-H-L All-Star with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Forward Amanda Kessel received a number of national player-of-the-year honors with the University of Minnesota last season. Also on the U-S men's team are four ex-Badgers who are now in the N-H-L -- Madison native Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, Plover native Joe Pavelski of San Jose, and Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers. Phil Kessel, Pavelski, and Suter all played on the silver-medal-winning U-S Olympic team in 2010 in Vancouver. On the women's side, Amanda Kessel will be joined by four ex-Badgers -- goal-tender Jessie Vetter and forwards Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, and Meghan Duggan. Knight, Vetter, and Duggan were all on the second-place U-S Olympic women's team from Vancouver in 2010. Also former Badger Meghan Mikkelson was named last month to Canada's national Olympic squad.