Offense hasn’t been difficult to come by against Wisconsin during its current slump.
The ninth-ranked Badgers will try to rediscover their once-strong defense and end a three-game slide Saturday at Purdue, where they’ve historically struggled to win.
Wisconsin (16-3, 3-3 Big Ten) got off to a program-record 16-0 start while limiting opponents to 61.1 points per game and 40.5 percent shooting. The Badgers have been nowhere near that stingy in their last three games, surrendering an average of 77.7 points with opponents shooting 55.0 percent, including 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.
They allowed Minnesota to go 33 for 56 (58.9 percent) despite losing its top scorer 16 seconds into Wednesday’s 81-68 road loss, marking the highest point total surrendered in the series by the Badgers in nearly 20 years.
The three-game losing streak is only the sixth for Wisconsin since Bo Ryan took over in 2001-02, and the first since Dec. 31, 2011-Jan. 8, 2012. They haven’t lost four in a row since a six-game skid from Jan. 11-31, 2009.
"If you look at the points per game that we’re giving up in these last three games, it’s been embarrassing to say the least," center Frank Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky – the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.3 points per game – played a season-low 15 minutes after being charged with two fouls in the opening 2:32. Wisconsin missed its leading shot-blocker (1.8) in surrendering a 48-26 edge in points in the paint.
"That’s definitely frustrating to watch," Kaminsky said. "Just to sit there and watch, you can’t do anything about it."
Sam Dekker was one of the club’s few bright spots offensively with 20 points, but the Badgers – who came in shooting a conference-best 39.2 percent from beyond the arc – hit just 5 of 20 3-point attempts. They’re 19 for 61 from deep over the last three games. Ben Brust is 4 for 16 during that stretch after he had been shooting 44.2 percent.
Purdue is limiting opponents to a league-low 27.8 percent from beyond the arc in conference play.
The Boilermakers (13-6, 3-3) own a 37-3 edge over Wisconsin at Mackey Arena, though the Badgers won the last meeting there 67-62 on Jan. 12, 2012. Wisconsin was 9 of 20 from 3-point range, including a 3-of-4 performance from Brust.
Purdue’s first win against a top 10 club in 12 tries could help ease the sting of Tuesday’s 63-60 double-overtime loss at Northwestern.
Despite shooting 27.6 percent – their lowest mark in almost four years – the Boilermakers never trailed until Northwestern hit the first basket of the second overtime. Senior Terone Johnson, who averages a team-best 13.5 points, shot 4 of 17 for 17 points for Purdue, which hit only 1 of 16 2-point attempts in the second half.
"If you go back and watch our game we’re missing point-blank layups," coach Matt Painter said in a teleconference. "We’re missing layups on the fast break, runners in the lane that aren’t contested … We’re just missing open shots."
Purdue, which had won three in a row, could have a chance to exploit Wisconsin on the boards. The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten with an average margin of plus-8.3 during conference play, while Wisconsin ranks 10th at minus-4.2.
The schools have traded wins in six straight meetings after a four-game winning streak by Purdue.