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What to know about Wisconsin men’s basketball’s Maui Invitational semifinal against Houston

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The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team beat Texas A&M on Monday to advance to Tuesday’s semifinal round of the Maui Invitational. 

The Badgers will play No. 12 Houston after the Cougars defeated Butler 70-52 in their first-round game. 

The basics

What: Wisconsin (3-1) vs. Houston (4-0)

When: 4 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas

TV: ESPN 

Radio: 1310 AM and 101.5 FM, with Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas

Last meeting: Wisconsin and Houston have met twice, playing a home-and-home series in 1964 and 1965 with each team winning on its home floor.

The teams

Wisconsin 

Fast fact: Monday's win marks the third straight time the Badgers won on the first day in the Maui Invitational. The Badgers took third in 2009, while they fell to No. 4 North Carolina in the 2016 title game.

Coach: Greg Gard, 122-71 in his seventh season at UW

Probable starters: Steven Crowl, Johnny Davis, Brad Davison, Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl

Player to watch: Davis scored a career-high 21 points and tied his career high with nine rebounds against Texas A&M after an injury forced him to miss UW’s last game. 

University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach Greg Gard speaks to the media after the Badgers defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 69-58 on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas.

Houston

Fast fact: The No. 12 Cougars are the only ranked team in the Maui Invitational. This is Houston’s second appearance in the tournament, improving to 2-2 with the win over Butler.

Coach: Kelvin Sampson, 171-64 in his seventh season at Houston

Probable starters: Marcus Sasser, Kyler Edwards, Taze Moore, Fabian White Jr. and Reggie Chaney

Player to watch: White had a career-high 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting against Butler. He’s averaging 10.5 points per game. 

Three things to know about the Cougars

It’s UW’s first ranked opponent 

The Badgers have yet to face a team ranked in the AP Top 25, but that will change when they tip off against the Cougars. Houston is the only ranked team in the Maui Invitational after Oregon fell out of the latest Top 25.

UW’s highest-ranked opponent on KenPom.com so far was Providence, which checks in at 70th. The Badgers are 38th, while Houston is eighth. 

The Cougars’ top opponent so far this season was Virginia, which they beat 67-47 on Nov. 16. Virginia in No. 60 on KenPom.com.

University of Wisconsin sophomore Johnny Davis speaks to the media about what it's like to play with his brother, Jordan Davis, after the Badgers defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 69-58 on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas.

Leading men

Houston has three players who are averaging at least 10 points. Sasser, Edwards and White are combining for 44.25 points per game. 

Sasser, a junior guard, entered the Butler game leading the Cougars and American Athletic Conference with 23.3 points per game. He only scored nine points on 4-of-7 shooting over 23 minutes. His average dropped to 19.75 points per game, which still leads the team. 

Edwards, a senior guard, is averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds. He ranks in the top 15 in the AAC in both scoring and rebounding. 

White Jr. scored 21 points against Butler to raise his average to 10.5 points per game. 

Compared to the Badgers

Houston has limited its turnovers to 9.75 per game. The Badgers’ first four opponents averaged 14.0 turnovers per game. UW averages 9.3 turnovers per game.

The Cougars have connected on 46.2% of their shots overall and 39.8% from 3-point range. The Badgers have made 38.6% of their field goals, but only 28.2% from beyond the arc. 

UW is averaging 42.3 rebounds per game, while Houston is averaging 37.5. 

Nine players returned to the Cougars from last season’s Final Four squad. Four of the five starters are returners, with the lone exception being Moore, who transferred from California State Bakersfield. Sasser is the only returner who averaged in double figures last season. He started in 28 of the team’s 29 games. 

 

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