Road Test Passed

Wisconsin is learning how to win on the road, grabbing its third true road victory of the season Wednesday with a 62-59 overtime victory at Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Believe it or not, Wisconsin has won just three road games this season.

Partly because of the home-crazy schedules in college basketball, but also due to Wisconsin's mini-struggles away from the Kohl Center.

Yes, these Badgers are still learning to win in hostile environments, which makes Wednesday's 62-59 overtime victory over Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena as encouraging as it was rattling.

Whether blame lied with a spot of Super Bowl hangover or just an uncharacteristically off start, Wisconsin's shooters were completely out of sync the first 20 minutes. The 14th-ranked Badgers (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten) couldn't take advantage of sterling offensive rebounding, making just 6-of-33 shots in the first half - an abominable 18 percent.

"You have to reach inside and say, okay, we're going to be all right," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "It's not all right. But the way you change it is with better cuts, more looks to the rim, touch the post a little more, maybe get something from your defense in transition.

"But what you can't do is drop your head, and you can't sulk or pout. And our guys didn't."

Road struggles have pestered the Kohl Center-coddled Badgers in the past, and UW is once again unbeatable in Madison - 13-0 entering this Saturday's showdown with top-ranked Ohio State.

But championships aren't claimed in the backyard against North Dakota or Indiana, or even with big triumphs over Illinois and Purdue. UW can use all the road wins possible, no matter how ugly.

If Bryce Cartwright's fadeaway baseline jumper had rattled in instead of out at the regulation buzzer, UW would have been handed its fourth road loss by 4 or less points of the year. Instead, the Badgers were fortunate to recover and improve to 3-4 in true road games, and 5-5 in all games out of the Kohl Center.

"Life in the Big Ten, you've got to go on the road against good teams that are hot in tough environments and find a way to grind it out," senior forward Jon Leuer said. "This is definitely a learning experience for the younger guys who haven't been through this."

Just as he did on this same court two years ago as a green freshman, UW guard Jordan Taylor tied the game with a pullup shot from the top of the key. Couple subtle differences - that 2009 shot was a deep 3 at the buzzer, while Wednesday's jumper came from the free-throw line with 28 seconds remaining.

Oh, and Wisconsin actually went on to win the game this time, helped by Taylor's deep 3 from the right wing in overtime's opening possession as well as his free throw with seven seconds to go.

The Iowa crowd of 12,093, steadily growing in optimism as coach Fran McCaffery progresses through his first season in Iowa City, was fully engaged in the game down to the wire.

That'll help simulate future tests at Purdue and Ohio State in the next month.

"Every game is just as important as the next," Leuer said. "We knew that coming in ... at home, they've been playing even better. It was a tough, grind-it-out game, and we came through down the stretch."

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