When assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft began his statistical breakdown of the next opponent, he was greeted with some quizzical expressions on the faces of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball players.
Savannah State (3-8), which visits the Kohl Center Thursday night for a game against the No. 16 Badgers (8-2), has attempted 501 shots from 3-point range through 11 games. That’s 45.5 per game, 7.7 more than the next-highest average in the nation.
The Tigers have taken 164 more shots from beyond the arc than they have from inside of it. Nearly 49 percent of their points this season have come from 3-pointers.
“The guys kind of looked at us like, ‘You can’t be serious? They shoot that many?’” said Krabbenhoft, who prepared the Savannah State scouting report for the Badgers. “We were like, ‘Yeah. Yeah, they do.’”
Savannah State has led the nation in KenPom’s adjusted tempo category each of the past two seasons and tops the list again in 2018-19.
The Tigers’ average possession lasts 12.1 seconds, which is 1.2 shorter than the No. 2 team in that category, North Carolina. Go down the list — way down the list — to No. 346 and you’ll find UW at 19.6 seconds per offensive possession.
That quick tempo and high rate of 3-pointers hasn’t exactly led to much success for the Tigers. They’re allowing exactly 100 points per game and were beaten 110-76 by Georgia and 120-85 by Vanderbilt.
South Dakota State put up 90 points on Savannah State on Tuesday night — in one half. The Jackrabbits scored on 18 consecutive possessions during one stretch before halftime — they led by 57 points at the break — and rolled to a 139-72 win over the Tigers.
Translation: UW should roll to an easy win, which probably isn’t such a bad thing for a team still licking its wounds from a 74-69 overtime loss at Marquette on Saturday.
The Badgers missed 11 free throws and 19 shots from 3-point range against the Golden Eagles. They also turned the ball over 13 times and gave up 14 offensive rebounds.
“Just a lot of missed opportunities,” UW sophomore guard Brad Davison said. “Coming away from the game, there’s a lot of things we wish we could have back.
“There’s a lot of things that we can take from it, a lot of things we can learn from it. The good thing is it’s still December, so we’ve got a long ways to go.”
After playing Savannah State, the Badgers take some time off for final exams before hosting Grambling State on Dec. 22. They close non-conference play on Dec. 29 with a game at Western Kentucky and restart Big Ten play on Jan. 3 against Minnesota at the Kohl Center.
UW bounced back from its first loss of the season — to Virginia in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game — with victories over North Carolina State and Iowa in a span of four days.
Now, the Badgers are in the process of regrouping after their second defeat.
“You’ve got to grow from it,” Davison said. “That’s why we have 30-some games in a season leading up to March. Every game is a learning opportunity. Every win, every loss, you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low.
“That’s the good thing about basketball is usually you get two games in a week to get back out there and prove yourself.”