Preview: Wisconsin at Purdue

Suffering through its first three-game losing streak since the 2008-09 season, Wisconsin will have a challenge if it wants to get back on track, taking on senior Robbie Hummel and stingy Purdue tonight at Mackey Arena, a building UW has won in once in its last 35 games.

Wisconsin (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten) vs. Purdue (13-4, 3-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Thursday, January 12, 6:00 p.m. Central

Arena – Mackey Arena (14,123)

Television - ESPN (Dave O'Brien and Stephen Bardo)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Purdue leads 104-64 (Purdue leads 68-16 in West Lafayette)

Last Meeting – Purdue won, 70-62, on February 16, 2011 in West Lafayette

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 9.9 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 13.6 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.3 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.0 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 11.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 9.9 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.7 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.6 ppg)

Purdue Probable Starters

4 Robbie Hummel (6-8 Senior Forward, 16.2 ppg)

12 Kelsey Barlow (6-5 Junior Guard, 8.6 ppg)

23 Lewis Jackson (5-9 Senior Guard, 10.2 ppg)

24 Ryne Smith (6-3 Senior Guard, 10.2 ppg)

50 Travis Carroll (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 2.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Terone Johnson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 6.9 ppg)

1 Anthony Johnson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 6.2 ppg)

21 D.J. Byrd (6-5 Junior Forward, 5.9 ppg)

24 Jacob Lawson (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.6 ppg)

Last Time Out

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After poor shooting hurt the Badgers in two narrow home losses, the points were even harder to come by at Crisler Arena, bad news against a Michigan team that has made it a habit of putting the ball into the basket.

After back-to-back shooting clunkers, the Badgers hit a new low Sunday afternoon, shooting a season-worse 31.4 percent in an ugly 59-41 defeat to No.16 Michigan.

After seeing Iowa and Michigan State end long series losing streaks against Wisconsin (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten) last week, the storylines didn't change between two teams heading in opposite directions.

Michigan – notorious of turning on the jets in the second half – went on an 18-7 run the first 10 minutes after halftime to push the lead to 17 and lead by as many 19 points. Wisconsin – unseasonably cold over the last two games – couldn't buy a shot in scoring the fewest points in a regular season game under Bo Ryan and the second fewest in school history.

As a result, the Badgers are 1-3 in conference for the first time since 2000-01, the season before Ryan arrived.

Michigan (13-3, 3-1) had three players in double figures and got a game-high 17 points from sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 12 of his points after halftime. Hardaway Jr. has scored in double figures in nine games this season, and scored the Wolverines' first five points of the second half to push the lead to 10. Wisconsin never got closer than nine the rest of the way.

Jordan Taylor led Wisconsin with 12 points, but shot 5-of-15 from the field (2-of-7 from three-point range) and scored eight of his points after the outcome was clearly decided with 10 minutes to go. He also finished with one assist and three turnovers, and has just two assists to seven turnovers in the last two games.

Not only could the Badgers not shoot, Wisconsin was out hustled, getting out rebounded 34-to-27, turned the ball over 12 times and were outshot 17-2 from the free throw line.

Last Meeting

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – It was the perfect snapshot of another Mackey Arena head scratcher that continues to plague the University of Wisconsin like an itch it simply can't reach.

When senior Jon Leuer, who did his best to will the tenth-ranked Badgers into a game it seemingly shot itself out of, hurled up a desperation 3-point air ball in the closing minute, he finally fell into the 3-point doldrums that his teammates had been living in throughout the 40 minutes.

No qualms about it; it was certainly live by the three, die by the three.

"You can't beat a Purdue, you can't beat anybody in the Big Ten without completing some of those," said a flabbergasted UW Coach Bo Ryan, whose team rattled shots out from all angles in a 70-62 defeat to No.11 Purdue Wednesday night.

"If you can't hit some of those threes, it's going to be a long night."

After raising the bar so high against the top-ranked Buckeyes, the night was long and demoralizing, especially after one 3-point shot at a crucial time would have changed the game's entire complex. Instead, the Badgers' 15.8 percent 3-point shooting (3-for-19) was a season worst and their 1-for-12 performance in the second half prevented them from getting over the hump, as seven different players missed a 3-point attempt at some point on the night.

It was a heavy dose of reality after the Badgers' hot perimeter shooting gave them national headlines in erasing a 15-point deficit to beat then-No.1 Ohio State the previous Saturday.

"Anytime we step on the court, we're looking to win and if we don't, we're disappointed," said Leuer, who led all scorers with 23. "To come out with a loss after a hard-fought game like that is definitely disappointing."

Even with things blowing up in their faces, the resiliency and moxie Wisconsin (19-6, 9-4) tends to show came out when Purdue's lead ballooned to 13, its largest of the game, as the Badgers tried to pull off another great escape.

When Leuer nailed what had been a rare 3-pointer from the elbow to start chipping into the lead, it almost seemed to bring the flashbacks of Saturday's second half. The ensuring 9-2 run, seven of the points coming from Leuer, to cut the lead to 53-47 seemed to validate those beliefs, especially when the Boilermakers went nearly six minutes between field goals.

When the lead was final cut to two, the Boilermakers responded with a 7-0 run, highlighted by Moore hitting an open 3-pointer off an in-bound play at 2:07 and three miss UW shots, to push the lead to nine.

The Badgers never got the lead below five again.

Series Notes:

Purdue and Wisconsin will only face each other once this season. The Badgers' other three Big Ten "single-plays" are Northwestern (Jan. 18), Indiana (Jan. 26) and Michigan (L, 41-59).

The Badgers have lost in each of the last five trips to West Lafayette, with the last win coming in 77-68 decision on Jan. 5, 2005. UW's 2005 win at Mackey Arena marked the program's first since 1972, snapping a string of 29 consecutive losses at Purdue.

Since Bo Ryan arrived in Madison, Purdue leads the series 9-7. The Boilermakers are the only Big Ten team with a winning record against the Badgers in that era.

Jordan Taylor has averaged 16.5 points per game in his last four contests vs. Purdue, including 15 points in each meeting last season and a then-career high 23 points in UW's 2010 win at the Kohl Center.

Ryan Evans posted just two double-figure scoring games during Big Ten play last season, both against Purdue, scoring 11 and 10 points.

Thursday's game features the nation's top two teams at taking care of the ball, as Wisconsin leads the nation with an average of 8.6 turnovers per game and Purdue checks in second at just 9.9 miscues per contest.

Wisconsin Notes

After a rare three-game losing streak, Wisconsin finds itself out of the top-25 rankings for the first time in 20 weeks. This week, the Badgers received the 26th-most votes in both the AP and Coaches polls. UW is 12-5, with four of its losses coming to teams ranked in the top 16 at the time. In 11 seasons under Bo Ryan, this is just the 4th time the Badgers have lost 3 consecutive regular season games.

The Badgers are on a record-setting pace at the defensive end, allowing opponents a nation's-low 47.9 points per game. Virginia, coached by former UW assistant Tony Bennett, ranks a distant second, allowing 50.5 points per game. UW also ranks 2nd in the NCAA in opposing field goal shooting, limiting foes to just 35.2 percent. The Badgers have held 12 of their 17 opponents to that team's lowest scoring output of the season.

Bruesewitz has gone 11 games without reaching double figures in scoring. He's attempted more than five shots only twice during that stretch.

Purdue Notes:

The Boilermakers have won five in a row against UW at Mackey Arena, and enter the contest on a 26-game home winning streak that ranks as the fifth-longest in the nation; Purdue is 7-3 against UW under head coach Matt Painter.

The Boilers also entered the week among the nation's best in turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio, ranking seventh (+4.8) and 11th (1.41), respectively; Purdue has forced opponents into an average of 14.8 turnovers per game this season.

Purdue is averaging 8.2 triples per game for the season; the Boilermakers have made at least 10 treys in a game five times on the year, and are 23-4 (.852) under Painter when connecting on at least 10 three-point field goals.

Purdue has led in bench points in 13 of its 17 games this year, with Terone Johnson leading the way with an average of 6.9 points per game; the Boilermaker reserves have averaged 30.0 points on 56.1 percent shooting in Purdue's first four conference games.

Prediction

How bad is it going for Wisconsin? Taking a peak at UW's latest media notes, there's a heading entitled: ‘Wisconsin Shooting - It's in there somewhere.' Just goes to show that even UW Athletic Communications people are bewildered by what has taken place over the last three games.

In winning 12 of its first 14 games, Wisconsin shot 46.0 percent from the floor and 41.4 percent from three-point range. From that point forward, it appeared the entire team gave one another the cold shoulder, as UW is just 33.3 percent from the field and an abysmal 21.4 percent from three-point range. Against a good shooting Michigan team, it was obvious that it was going to be a challenge for Wisconsin but, to quote Bob Newhart, ‘I knew it was going to be bad. I just didn't know it was going to be this bad this quickly.'

After shooting 31.4 percent against the Wolverines, the Badgers are now 10th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 43.6. The Boilermakers head into Thursday's game shooting 48.6 percent from the field from the field in Big Ten play, and have shot 50 percent or better in three of their four conference outings; Purdue is also shooting 41.3 percent from the arc in league play. The only glimmer of hope is that Purdue is last in the league in free throw percentage at 61.4. Maybe Bo Ryan should employ the ‘hack-a-Shaq' formula?

The thing that impresses me most about Purdue, in addition to Hummel seemingly playing in his ninth-year of eligibility, is its bench and the ‘Johnson and Johnson' attack. Guards Anthony Johnson and Terone Johnson (no relation) are the leading scorers for a Boilermaker reserve unit that has given Purdue an 8.0-point average advantage in bench points this season (136 points in 17 games). The two combine for 13.1 points per game. UW hasn't gotten that many points from its bench combined in three of the last four games.

The other key is if Taylor can find his shooting touch, which will be a tough task against Purdue's Jackson. Four days after bursting on to the national spotlight with his 27-point, 7-assist performance against Ohio State last season, Taylor was hounded from the opening tipoff by Jackson and his teammates, a reason he was limited to nine shots and was subbed for after failing to box out on a couple occurrences.

Jackson is just as tenacious a defense as he was a year ago, only he's scoring more, too, including 20 points, four assists and no turnovers against Minnesota. Taylor better hope Jackson's back problems flair up and he can't play a full 40 minutes.

Look, Wisconsin is going to break out of its shooting slump sooner or later. I just have a hard time believing it's going to be in a town they've only won twice in since the Lyndon Johnson presidency. Purdue, riding that long winning streak, wins by 9.

Worgull's Record: 14-3

Points off Prediction: 187 (11.00 per game)


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