Preview: Bouncing Back

Jon Leuer went just 3-for-9 in the loss to Michigan State and will play a crucial part in the defense against Mike Tisdale Saturday as the Badgers try and bounce back from two road losses in the Big Ten.

MADISON — Saturday will be a day to avenge disappointments.

The Wisconsin basketball team must still be trying to wash the taste from their mouth after the epic meltdown against Michigan State. It was the most uncharacteristic loss Bo Ryan's team has seen in several seasons. One can only imagine the intensity of the past three days of practice.

"That is a game we need to be able to win no matter who the opponent is," Keaton Nankivil stated simply.

And while the loss at Illinois doesn't sting as painful, Saturday's battle against the Illini will be a chance to prove that the only difference between Wisconsin and Illinois is whose home court the game is being played at.

The solution to both of these problems is simple — just win baby.

"It was definitely frustrating, we felt like we outplayed them for the first 38 minutes and to have it slip away in the last few minutes is frustrating," Leuer said. "But we just have to take that as a learning experience and get right back on the floor and do better the next time. There is no hanging our heads down or any of that nonsense. Just getting right back on the court and ready to go."

While the Badgers are as close to being automatic at the Kohl Center as possible, Illinois did come in last season and push Wisconsin around for an upset win.

Just another cause for vengeance Saturday.

"We have to be able to defend our home court. We always hope to win on the road as well, but if you can't defend your home court it is going to be tough to win this conference," Nankivil said.

Last season, as well as the loss two weeks ago came with one simple formula for Illinois.

They took advantage of stellar point guard Demetri McCamey and seven-foot forward Mike Tisdale's pick-and-pop combination. Every team knows its coming, and most still struggle to stop it.

McCamey is the top passer in the Big Ten and Tisdale prefers shooting jumpers from working inside. Leave the guard to recover against McCamey and he will wreak havoc driving the lane. Go under the screen and he will pull up for three, which he does at a 54 percent rate. Finally, have the 'big' help on McCamey and Tisdale will bomb away from deep.

If it sounds like the perfect combination, it is pretty close.

To top it off, the rest of the team is talented to go along with it, making sure no one else leaves their man open — something Bo Ryan is rare to preach anyways.

"You can't just focus on a couple guys," Leuer said. "That is how you get burned when other guys get hot."

On the offensive end for UW, the rest of the plan is pretty simple.

Jon Leuer needs to touch the ball much, much more.

Against Michigan State, Leuer went just 3-for-9 from the floor and basically wasn't a factor in the final 15 minutes of the game.

"I took some shots where I was fading away instead of going to the basket and drawing a foul or finishing at the rim," Leuer said "I know I have to be better at that."

For UW, a bounce back win will relegate the Michigan State disaster to a one-game anomaly.

If the energy and focus isn't there Saturday, however, the one game meltdown could turn into a season-long disease.

"We still have 14 left in the Big Ten so hopefully we can go 14-0 from here," Taylor said.


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