Prairie View-Wisconsin Preview

The Associated Press

Coach Bo Ryan has never let his Wisconsin teams bask in glory or sulk in defeat, and his current squad is remaining humble despite being on the verge of the best start in school history.

The fourth-ranked Badgers look to improve to 13-0 when they return from a two-week break to host Prairie View A&M on Saturday.

Wisconsin has posted some quality victories - including one over then-No. 11 Florida on Nov. 12 - though Ryan isn't letting his players get caught up in their early success.

"Well, you know, when you say special group, they have done things well enough to be on the left-hand side and there is still a lot of basketball to be played," Ryan said. "I've always thought every team we've ever had was special."

This one has the chance to be exceptional, though. Wisconsin matched its best start, set in 1915-16, with an 86-61 win over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 14 as Ben Brust scored a season-high 20 points while hitting 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

Freshman Nigel Hayes scored 17 points off the bench, while Sam Dekker added 16 and Frank Kaminsky scored 13.

The Badgers, who have averaged 10 turnovers per game or fewer in five straight seasons, rank third nationally with 9.1 giveaways per contest.

"I just think overall we have a lot of different parts that come together and fit nicely," said Brust, a senior who is second in the Big Ten with 34 3-pointers. "We have freshmen, we have sophomores, we have juniors, we have seniors. But we still have a lot of work to do."

Wisconsin didn't work much during its break for finals and the holidays, as Ryan kept practices light. Though the long layoff may not be ideal for a surging club, the coach said it gave his players time for some much-needed rest.

"It is what it is in life and there is the schedule," Ryan said. "We get some guys a chance to heal up. I always look at it, the way it is set up is perfect, because we can't change it. So it's perfect."

Brust hopes the Badgers will come back just as efficient.

"You have to stay sharp," Brust said. "We'll be in the gym and keep the ball in our hands, stay fresh. And then when the time comes to prepare for the next team, we'll get right after it like we have for these past 12 games."

Wisconsin opens its Big Ten slate Thursday at Northwestern after facing a Prairie View team that will be playing its ninth straight game away from home.

The Panthers (2-9) are coming off a 92-53 defeat to Western Michigan last Saturday. Each of their last seven losses have come by double digits, including four straight by an average of 32.0 points. Their 87.9 points allowed per game ranks ninth in the 10-team Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Demondre Chapman scored a game-high 23 against Western Michigan. Junior guard Montrael Scott is averaging a team-best 14.2 points, but he was held to six in that contest.

These teams last met when Wisconsin beat Prairie View 99-55 on Nov. 14, 2010.

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