Wisconsin-Nebraska Preview

The Associated Press

Aside from tough defeats to two of the top teams in the country, Wisconsin looked mostly dominant through its non-conference schedule.

The 11th-ranked Badgers, though, aren't sure what to expect as they begin Big Ten play against the conference's newest member.

Looking to win a ninth consecutive conference opener, Wisconsin visits a Nebraska program set to make its Big Ten debut Tuesday night.

The Badgers (11-2) concluded non-conference play with Friday's 79-45 rout of Mississippi Valley State, and only one of their victories hasn't been by double digits. Their only losses came in back-to-back games, 60-57 at No. 5 North Carolina on Nov. 30 and 61-54 to then-No. 16 Marquette three days later.

"I think we expected to be 13-0, thought we were going to be 13-0," said preseason All-American Jordan Taylor, whose 17 points Friday were one shy of a season high. "The two games we lost obviously tough games, but I think we responded to that tough week in a good way and learned some new things that were positive and negative."

Wisconsin has won five in a row since those defeats but now faces an unfamiliar foe. Tuesday marks the first meeting between these teams since the Badgers defeated the Cornhuskers 78-41 on Nov. 22, 1998, to snap an eight-game skid in the series.

Coach Bo Ryan's team has gone just 12-15 versus conference opponents on the road over the previous three seasons and must overcome what is sure to be a spirited crowd at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

"The first (Big Ten) game you have is at a place where you haven't been, so it's just like a non-conference game basically," Ryan said.

"Kind of unfamiliar with the team. It's not like you have past scouting reports. It's not like you have information on players from year to year, so we are going to have to learn in a hurry and they've got to do the same for us. So it is what it is, we play 18 of them. We might as well start in Lincoln."

The Huskers (8-3) are sure to have their hands full versus a Badgers team holding opponents to 44.7 points per game and 33.5 percent from the field - both marks are best in the nation.

Nebraska, which went 7-9 in its final season of Big 12 play in 2010-11, could be shorthanded. It's unknown if center Jorge Brian Diaz (foot) and junior college transfer Dylan Talley (thigh bruise) will be available after each missed the last two contests.

While Talley is averaging 9.1 points off the bench, Diaz ranks second on the team with 10.9 per game and second in the league with 23 blocks. His absence could be a major problem considering Wisconsin's top scorer is 6-foot-10 Jared Berggren, averaging 15.0 points in the last three games.

Bo Spencer continues to pace Nebraska with team-best averages of 16.0 points and 4.3 assists, and fellow senior guard Toney McCray has come up big while starting for the injured Diaz. Coach Doc Sadler has gone with a four-guard starting lineup with his big man sidelined.

After posting a season-high 20 points in a 60-46 win over Alcorn State on Dec. 17, McCray scored 11 and had a team-high eight rebounds during last Tuesday's 72-69 victory over Central Michigan. All five starters scored in double figures as Nebraska notched its season-best fourth straight win.

The Huskers are facing a Top 25 opponent for the first time this season after winning three of four home matchups versus ranked foes in 2010-11, most notably upsetting then-No. 3 Texas 70-67 on Feb. 19.

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