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Texas Travels To Madison Looking For 10th Win



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Texas Longhorns
@ Wisconsin Badgers

Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008  *  8:30 PM CST
Kohl Center  *  Madison, Wisconsin
Television: ESPN2

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Rick Barnes takes his 5th-ranked Longhorns (9-2) on the road to Wisconsin (9-2) for the team's second straight challenge against a Big 10 opponent. Texas dropped a semi-home game (Toyota Center, Houston) on Saturday to Michigan State, despite leading for most of the game. When it came to crunch time, however, Texas went to the Stand Around And Dribble half court offense, while Michigan State stole the win on a nice drive and dish from Morgan to Summers: Three points. Ball game.



The Badgers are 9-2 against a pretty soft schedule -- their resume including two decent Top 100 wins over UW-Green Bay in Madison and at Virginia Tech, along with seven victories against certifiable snack cakes. Against the two tourney-caliber teams on their schedule, the Badgers lost big to UCONN (76-57) and narrowly at Marquette (61-58). 

In those two contests against tough competition, the Badgers suffered from an inability to take care of the ball on offense and secure rebounds on defense. The Longhorns have excelled in both of those areas thus far this year, securing 38.5% of their own misses (43rd nationally) and turning over their opponents on 24% of possessions (56th nationally).


A look at Wisconsin's rate stats courtesy of KenPom's metrics:

Raw Tempo: 60.7 poss/40 min  National Rank=333
Adj Tempo: 60.4 poss/40 min  National Rank=338

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency :  108.9 ( 64)           95.2 (100)
Adj Efficiency :  111.0 ( 44)           94.3 ( 84)

Effective FG%  :   51.9 ( 81)           48.3 (151)
Turnover Pct.  :   18.6 ( 56)           19.2 (259)
Off. Rebound%  :   34.0 (149)           24.2 (  4)
Free Throw Rate:   28.4 ( 80)           26.8 ( 27)

3-Point FG%    :   37.2 ( 77)           35.8 (234)
2-Point FG%    :   49.7 (110)           45.8 (113)
Free Throw Pct.:   69.2 (135)           69.8 (222)
Block Pct.     :    6.7 ( 73)           10.4 ( 98)
Steal Pct.     :    7.7 ( 27)            7.5 (304)

3PA/FGA        :   35.5 (104)           31.1 (105)
A/FGM          :   52.8 (202)           52.5 (125)
A/FGM          :   52.8 (202)           52.5 (125)

Interestingly, the Badgers have been so good securing defensive rebounds against their inferior opponents that they rank 4th nationally in one-and-done defensive rebounding, yet both Marquette (35.7 OR%) and Connecticut (40.4%) hurt the Badgers badly on the glass. And the only other comparably athletic team on their schedule -- Virginia Tech -- also cleared over 40% of its own misses. The Badgers' strong defensive rebounding numbers are a result of them beating up on much smaller, weaker squads. 

Looking at the numbers, Wisconsin doesn't do much exceptionally well, unless you count slowing the game down to a crawl a positive, in which case Wisconsin is King. The Badgers are the sixth slowest team in basketball in terms of tempo, averaging a meager 60 possessions per 40 minutes of basketball. Bo Ryan is nothing, if not deliberate.


  1. Defensive Discipline.  The Badgers will patiently run Bo Ryan's motion sets for all 35 seconds of the shot clock, working the ball inside-out and around the horn until they get a clean look. The Badgers aren't a good slashing/creating offensive club, but they can hit open shots if they're available. If Texas lets Marcus Landry and/or Trevon Hughes gun open threes, we'll find ourselves in trouble.
  2. Keep a body on Jon Leuer. Wisconsin has an emerging force on their hands in 6-11 sophomore Jon Leuer. He's a natural basketball player with good hands, excellent footwork, and a soft touch around the rim. If Texas' forwards aren't sharp about getting a body on him, he's the kind of player who will quietly put up 17 and 10 in 25 minutes.
  3. Run the inside-out sets in the halfcourt offense. The dribble-dribble-runner offense is precisely what Bo Ryan would like for Texas to run Tuesday night. Texas needs to make Wisconsin's average interior defense show that they can handle Texas in the paint. Wisconsin has no one who should be able to handle Sexy Dex; Rick needs to exploit that mismatch and make the Badgers commit two defenders to Texas' hefty center. If they don't, he'll have the match up to score.
  4. Crash the glass.  Texas has at times paid a price for being over-aggressive on offensive rebounding this year, but Wisconsin is so deliberate and halfcourt-oriented that there's not much risk of getting burned on transition buckets. I wouldn't mind seeing Texas take an aggressive approach to offensive rebounding in this one.
  5. Finish.  Simple as it sounds, the difference between Texas' 9-2 record and the 11-0 they probably should be are a few simple finishes. This team needs to finish lay ups. Finish halves. Finish free throws.... Everything up one half notch and this is a team that can beat just about anyone on a given night. Let's pick up an important road win Tuesday night.
UPDATE: Trips Right has posted his usual excellent commentary up at Barking Carnival.