MADISON -- It may not be the most hyped game of the evening, but we’ve got a top-20 tilt at the Kohl Center Tuesday night. A year ago the Gators spanked Wisconsin, 74-56, and went on to win the Southeastern Conference. In 2013, the two teams meet having each taken care of business in their openers.
As we close in on tipoff, here are a couple of areas to keep an eye on:
The Badgers finished even with St. John’s on the glass (34-34) in Friday’s 86-75 win, but gave up 15 offensive boards to the Red Storm (despite grabbing 14 of their own). When St. John’s got back in the game in the second half, it used stretches of dominance on the glass to do so. While the Red Storm certainly didn’t lack for athleticism, tonight UW has to deal with Gator seniors Patric Young (6.3 rebounds per game in 2012- ’13) and Will Yeguete (5.8), two powerful post threats.
Those two will pose a stiff test for Wisconsin’s interior defense, including true freshman Nigel Hayes, who was limited to eight minutes in Friday’s win because of foul trouble.
UW put on an offensive clinic for the most part against the Red Storm. Josh Gasser led five Badgers in double figures with 19. Forwards Sam Dekker (16) and Duje Dukan (15) joined guards Ben Brust (15) and Traevon Jackson (13) in an attack that came from across the lineup.
If Wisconsin does not come out shooting the ball as well as it did in Sioux Falls (11-23 3 pt. attempts), will they find other ways to score or will they force long jump shots? UW showed the ability to get up and down the floor and also pass on the interior in the opener, and will need to continue to rely on diversified scoring against the Gators.
Gators on the bench
Florida will be without senior guard Scottie Wilbekin and transfer forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris in Madison, as head coach Billy Donovan suspended the trio before the beginning of the regular season for undisclosed violations of team rules.
Wilbekin averaged 9.1 points per game and started 29 times for Donovan last year, while Finney-Smith was a freshman all-ACC performer for Virginia Tech in 2011-’12 before transferring to Florida and sitting out last season. Harris played two years for South Carolina, averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2011-’12 before transferring to Gainesville and sitting out last year. Florida won its opener against North Florida 77-69, but certainly missed the three players, all of whom should play key roles for the Gators when they’re back in uniform.