Wisconsin boosted its Big Ten title hopes this week by handing
the leader its first conference loss, but the momentum could be
short-lived if its play on the road doesn’t improve.
The 16th-ranked Badgers look to win their eighth straight over
Michigan on Saturday as they try to avoid a third consecutive road
Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3) continued its outstanding play at home
with a 67-49 win over No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday, improving to
13-0 at the Kohl Center. The Spartans were the last undefeated team
in Big Ten play, though they still hold a two-game lead while the
Badgers are part of a four-way tie for second place.
Wisconsin had one of its best defensive performances, holding
Michigan State to 37.0-percent shooting and its lowest point total
of the season. Four Badgers scored in double figures, led by Jason
Bohannon’s 19 and Jordan Taylor’s 17. Leading scorer Trevon Hughes,
averaging 15.5 points, was limited by foul trouble and scored five
points in 24 minutes.
“It’s nice to beat teams like that and at home,” Taylor said.
“At the same time, it’s a home game and we’re going to have to go
to Michigan on Saturday and that’s a tough team. … You just have
to go to the next game and try to get better and not try to dwell
on one game too much.”
Taylor, scoring 9.8 points per game for the season, has averaged
16.7 along with 5.0 assists over the last three contests.
As well as the Badgers have played at home, they’ve struggled on
the road, going 2-4 and losing their last two. They are scoring
60.3 points per game on the road while averaging 71.7 at home.
Wisconsin wasn’t impressive offensively in a 54-48 home win over
Michigan on Jan. 20, scoring only 18 points in the first half and
shooting 34.0 percent for the game. However, the Wolverines weren’t
much better at 36.2 percent and were held to five points in the
final five minutes.
Michigan’s DeShawn Sims had game highs of 23 points and 13
rebounds, but Wolverines leading scorer Manny Harris was held to 11
on 4-of-14 shooting.
Harris averages 18.7 points and Sims adds 17.0 per game, but
that duo had a combined 15 points on 6-of-23 shooting in a 67-52
loss at Northwestern on Tuesday.
Michigan (11-11, 4-6) shot 32.7 percent, including 6 of 25 in
the second half. Sims had a season-low four points after averaging
20.8 in his previous four games.
“He had a rough night,” coach John Beilein said.
The loss was the Wolverines’ fourth in five games, during which
they’ve averaged 55.0 points and shot 36.6 percent. Their only win
during that stretch was a 60-46 home victory over Iowa on Jan. 30 –
the last time they played in Ann Arbor. They are 9-3 at home.
Beilein was particularly disappointed by his team’s defense
beyond the arc Tuesday after Northwestern made 10 of 20 attempts.
His team might do a better job against the Badgers, who are
shooting 29.0 percent from 3-point range over the last eight games
– 4 of 24 against Michigan.
Wisconsin has won seven straight in this series since Michigan’s
85-76 victory in Ann Arbor in 2006. Hughes is averaging 18.3 points
in his last three games against the Wolverines.