College Basketball: Northwestern at Wisconsin - Wisconsin Favored
The second-ranked Badgers look to rebound from their first loss in more than two months when they host Northwestern on Saturday.
Wisconsin (21-2, 7-1 Big Ten) has its highest national ranking ever, but saw its school-record 17-game win streak end Wednesday with a 71-66 loss at Indiana, the first defeat for the Badgers since a 66-64 loss to Missouri State at the South Padre Invitational on Nov. 24.
The Badgers turned the ball over seven times in the first seven minutes on Wednesday, and allowed the Hoosiers to go on an 11-0 run early in the second half.
"We knew from the start it was going to be tough to pull this out. I don't think we came out with a lot of energy from the start, and that was the tale of the game,'' said senior forward Alando Tucker, who scored 23 points.
The loss dropped Wisconsin into a tie for the Big Ten lead with Ohio State, which the Badgers defeated 72-69 on Jan. 9. Wisconsin, which hasn't won the Big Ten regular season title since 2002-03, plays at Columbus on Feb. 25.
"We still have four more road games, we still have four tough home games,'' Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "Hopefully we can learn to avoid that one streak in there where we kind of let it get away from us defensively.''
Although the Wildcats (11-10, 1-7) are in last place in the conference, they played the Badgers tough in their first meeting, Jan. 13 at Evanston, Ill. Northwestern led by two points at halftime, but couldn't hold the lead and lost 56-50.
The 56 points in that game were a season low for Wisconsin, which is averaging 73.6 points per game.
Tucker, the favorite for Big Ten player of the year honors, is second in the Big Ten in scoring at 19.7. He had 17 points against the Wildcats earlier this season, and is averaging 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in five career games against them.
Although Northwestern stayed close with Wisconsin last month, it has been a different story when they play at Madison.
The Badgers have won eight straight home games over the Wildcats, outscoring them by an average of 18.5 points and holding Northwestern to an average of just 46.5 points in those contests.
Overall at home this season, Wisconsin is 15-0 and has won those games by a 20.7-point average margin.
Northwestern has lost 24 straight road games against ranked teams since beating then-No. 16 Minnesota 58-55 on Jan. 6, 1999.
The Wildcats lost to the Golden Gophers 62-55 at home on Wednesday, 11 days after beating them 55-40 in Minneapolis.
Freshman forward Kevin Coble scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, but didn't get any looks late in the game as Minnesota pulled away.
"We've got to get him more shots,'' Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "He's aggressive and he wants the ball. That's my fault. I'm calling all of these timeouts drawing up plays for other guys, because I think he can create his own shots.''
Coble, the Wildcats' leading scorer at 12.2 points per game, missed the first game against the Badgers with an injured ankle.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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