Gophers Host Badgers

Wisconsin's defense was nothing short of dominant in its last game, holding the Big Ten's highest-scoring team to its lowest point total of the season.

The 13th-ranked Badgers have also shut down border rival Minnesota nearly every time they've played them in recent years, a trend they hope continues as they visit Williams Arena on Sunday for the first time in the Tubby Smith era.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Wisconsin –1.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 88% of bets for this game have been placed on Wisconsin –1.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

The Badgers (17-3, 7-1) held high-scoring Indiana - the conference leader at 77.1 points per game - to 33.3 percent shooting in a 62-49 home win on Thursday, handing the No. 11 Hoosiers their first Big Ten loss.

Minnesota (13-6, 3-4) has found it similarly difficult to score on the Badgers since Bo Ryan took over as coach before the 2001-02 season. Wisconsin is 10-1 against the Golden Gophers over that span, allowing just 59.8 points per game.

During their current four-game losing streak to the Badgers, Minnesota has shot just 39.5 percent from the field. This season, Wisconsin is yielding a Big Ten-low 54.5 points per game, and opponents are shooting just 38.1 percent.

Against Indiana, Trevon Hughes had 16 points despite shooting just 3-of-15 from the field, and Marcus Landry had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.

Joe Krabbenhoft also had 12 rebounds - six offensive - and a tip-in to blunt an Indiana run with four minutes left as Wisconsin rebounded from its first conference loss.

"One of the main things this game showed tonight is how we can respond from a tough loss. We could have hung our heads and got down on ourselves for dropping down in the race in the Big Ten," Krabbenhoft said. "We looked at each other in the eye and said we're right back in it."

Wisconsin had won four straight on the road before losing to the Boilermakers, but is just 24-27 in Big Ten road games under Ryan.

Minnesota, meanwhile, started 8-0 at home, but lost its last two at Williams Arena by a combined 10 points to Indiana and Michigan State.

The Gophers snapped a three-game overall losing streak by winning at Michigan 77-65 on Thursday, shooting 58.5 percent and giving Smith his 400th career coaching win. Smith, in his first season at Minnesota, also had stints at Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky.

Wisconsin last faced Smith when he coached then-No. 1 Kentucky to a 63-57 win in the regional semifinals of the 2003 NCAA tournament.

Gophers senior Lawrence McKenzie had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in Thursday's win, shooting 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Fellow senior Dan Coleman had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.

Coleman is Minnesota's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 14.1 points and 6.6 rebounds. As a team, the Gophers entered the weekend third in the Big Ten with 73.7 points per game.

McKenzie had 21 points off the bench when Wisconsin visited Minneapolis on Feb. 14, but the Badgers still won 75-62 during Minnesota's nine-game losing streak to close the season.

Wisconsin freshman Jon Leuer, who had 25 points in the Badgers' Big Ten opener at Michigan on Jan. 2, starred at Orono High School in Long Lake, Minn., just west of Minneapolis.

But Leuer has struggled in recent games, scoring just three total points in limited minutes in the last five games. He is 1-for-11 from the field in that span, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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