Wisconsin-Penn St. Preview

After a rough start to Big Ten play, Wisconsin has managed to

turn things around.

The No. 19 Badgers try to match a season high with their sixth

straight victory Tuesday night while hoping to avoid a second

consecutive defeat at Penn State in this league matchup.

Wisconsin (17-5, 6-3) won 64-60 at Nebraska in its conference

opener but followed with losses to Iowa and ranked foes Michigan

State and Michigan. However, the Badgers bounced back with a 67-62

win at Purdue on Jan. 12 to begin their five-game winning stretch

and build some momentum in a league that has blossomed into one of

the toughest in the country.

“We just had to keep believing that we have a good team,”

forward Jared Berggren said. “We really believe that. Despite the

struggles at the start of the Big Ten, we knew what we had here. We

knew we had guys that weren’t going to give up easy.”

A consistently tough defense has paced the Badgers, who lead the

nation in scoring defense (49.6 points per game) and opponent

shooting (36.3 percent). Wisconsin foes are shooting just 26.8

percent from 3-point range.

“I just like the grit in this group,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan

said.

The Badgers showed that grit when they overcame a dismal

39.6-percent shooting effort – including 4 of 17 from beyond the

arc – to hold then-No. 16 Indiana to its fewest points of the

season in a 57-50 home win Thursday.

“When shots aren’t going down, you’ve got to rely on your

defense a little bit,” said the 6-foot-10 Berggren, who had four

points but blocked five shots.

Wisconsin’s defense, however, was unable to bail out its

struggling offense while losing two of three to Penn State last

season. The Badgers shot 42.3 percent during a 56-52 loss Jan. 29,

2011, that snapped their six-game road winning streak against the

Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin shot 54.3 percent in a 76-66 home win over Penn State

on Feb. 20, but went 15 of 51 from the field in a 36-33 loss to the

Nittany Lions in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Though Penn State (10-12, 2-7) has dropped two straight and

seven of nine, the Badgers know they can’t underestimate the hosts

Tuesday as they try to win three consecutive Big Ten road games for

the first time since 2007-08.

The Nittany Lions shot a combined 32.5 percent while losing

their last two contests at No. 20 Indiana on Jan. 22 and

third-ranked Ohio State on Wednesday. However, they upset then-No.

22 Illinois 54-52 at home Jan. 19 to improve to 8-4 at home.

Penn State is looking to win consecutive Big Ten home games

against ranked opponents for the second straight season.

“We are going to keep playing hard, and (our fans are) going to

be there for us through the bad times and the good,” guard Matt

Glover told Penn State’s official website.

Junior guard Tim Frazier ranks second in the conference

averaging 17.9 points. Playing in the shadow of star teammate Talor

Battle, Frazier totaled 22 points but made 8 of 13 shots in three

games versus Wisconsin last season.

He’ll face off against Badgers star Jordan Taylor (13.9 ppg) who

has averaged 16.3 points in his last four contests against Penn

State.