Texas has accomplished a lot in the first six weeks of the college basketball season, boasting two wins over top 10 teams and two of the Big 12’s top three scorers. Now they’ll get their first chance to rebound following a tough loss.
The ninth-ranked Longhorns (11-1) will try to bounce back Saturday at home when they take on a second straight quality Big Ten opponent, Wisconsin.
Texas is off to the best start in coach Rick Barnes’ 10-year tenure in Austin, but the Longhorns missed their chance to start 12-0 for the first time since 1981-82 when they lost 78-72 to then-No. 9 Michigan State last Saturday.
D.J. Augustin, who’s averaging 20.9 points, and A.J. Abrams, who scores 18.9 per game, had 24 and 22 points, respectively, but they combined to shoot 15-of-37 as Texas shot under 40 percent (39.3) for the second game in a row.
“I don’t know how much this game is going to help us, but you can never hurt yourself playing Michigan State,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “They are the best-coached team in the country. They are so good fundamentally that you learn from them.”
Augustin is just 12-of-37 (32.4 percent) in his past two games, but is still shooting 49.4 percent on the season. Abrams, who ranks second in Texas history in 3-point percentage, has made 42 shots from beyond the arc so far this season.
Texas is second in the Big 12 and among the top 20 in the nation in points per game, averaging 82.8. But it’ll be in for a severe test against Wisconsin, which allows just 53.0 points per game - second-best in the country.
The Badgers (9-2) had to come from behind to win their most recent game, a 68-58 home victory over Valparaiso last Saturday. Five Wisconsin players scored at least nine points, led by sophomore Trevon Hughes’ 14.
Hughes rarely got off the bench in his freshman season, but has become the Badgers’ leading scorer in 2007-08, averaging 15.1 points.
Senior center Brian Butch has also played a key role in Wisconsin’s strong start, scoring 12.9 points and grabbing a team-best 8.0 rebounds. The Badgers are among the top 10 teams in the nation in rebounding differential—they average 11.1 more boards than their opponents.
“(Rebounding) is the strength of this team,” coach Bo Ryan said.
Texas averages just 4.1 more boards than its opponents.
But despite being an average rebounding team, Texas has been one of the most dominant teams in the country because of its perimeter play. The Longhorns are among the top 10 teams in the country from beyond the arc, where they hit 43.3 percent of their shots.
They win by an average of 19.5 points and are the only team in the country to have knocked off two top-10 teams—UCLA and Tennessee.
While Wisconsin has been impressive defensively, holding five opponents under 50 points, the Badgers struggled in their two losses - a 24-point blowout against then-No. 7 Duke and a five-point defeat against then-No. 11 Marquette. They allowed an average of 81.5 points in those games.
The Longhorns and Badgers have met four times, with Wisconsin having won three. Texas has dropped the last two in the series, including the last meeting in Austin, 65-62 on Dec. 15, 1998.