Notes: Looking for More Momentum

Although they'll fall short of its fourth conference championship under coach Bo Ryan, No.14 Wisconsin is looking for more momentum following its upset over then-No.8 Ohio State Sunday with a pair of home tilts this week.

MADISON - Both senior Jordan Taylor and junior Jared Berggren admitted if they were told they would go 6-3 on the road in the Big Ten conference this season, they would have expected themselves to be in the driver's seat or at least in the mix for the regular season conference championship entering the final week of the season.

"I thought we'd have a better shot at getting the title," said Berggren. "You would like to think we can take care of business a little better at home than we were able to do."

Instead, Wisconsin dropped three home games and was eliminated from the conference race on Saturday, meaning they will have to settle for building more momentum off its surprising 63-60 victory over No.8 Ohio State Sunday in Columbus with its two final home games this week.

The Badgers (21-8, 10-6 Big Ten) moved up to No.14 in the AP poll and are one win away from clinching a first round bye in next weekend's Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

"We want the season to go as long as we can and we have four guaranteed games left," said Taylor. "After these two, nothing is guaranteed. You have to win to keep advancing. It definitely is a nice win to have."

It's also a nice building block for a variety of players. Taylor had his best shooting game of the season – making 6 of 8 shots from the floor – while Josh Gasser played 38 minutes of turnover-free basketball for the first time in five games and Ryan Evans overcame rough shooting to register his second career double-double.

The story, however, was Berggren scoring 18 points, including the final five points, to register his 15th double digit point total of the season.

"That's what he can do," said senior Rob Wilson, another player stepping up his game as of late. "He just stepped up with his confidence and knocked them down. His confidence has always been there. Everybody has their ups and downs, but he stepped up when we needed them."

Having averaged 27.1 minutes in all 29 games this season, Berggren is third on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg) but has suffered at points in either feast or famine in conference play. After scoring a career-high 21 points against Bradley on Nov.22, Berggren scored in double figured only five times in 15 conference games before Sunday.

As much as the satisfaction he had of hitting some shots early to boost his confidence, Berggren admitted he took it personally what sophomore Jared Sullinger did to him at the Kohl Center (16 first-half points) and took some satisfaction in helping limit the Ohio State star to eight points, his lowest in conference play and nine below his season average.

"I just focused on what I did wrong and what I could do better for this time," said Berggren. "There was a lot of stuff that I didn't do right in the first round where I let Sullinger get going early. Let me get some easy touches, some easy shots and he took it to me a little bit … The most important thing is we were able to get the win and I guess (my defense) played a pretty good role in limiting his effectiveness.

"Anything I can do to help the team get a win is really what I am focused on."

Not Willing to Relax

Following their first road win over a Big Ten team ranked in the AP top-10 since 1980, Wisconsin jumps to the other end of the spectrum when it faces Minnesota (17-12, 5-11) Monday night. Following the Gophers' 69-50 loss at home to Indiana Sunday, Minnesota has lost seven of nine and five in a row, a streak that began Feb.9 after a seven-point overtime loss to Wisconsin.

It's eerily similar to what Minnesota went through last season, losing 10 of 11 and six in a row to go from a 16-4 team locked into the NCAA Tournament to a 17-14 team home for the post season.

"Regardless of their losing streak, they took us to overtime, they took us to the brink last time we played them (and) I don't think anybody on our team forgets that," said Taylor, one of three UW starters that hail from Minnesota. "They got guys who can play up there. Sometimes things don't click for teams at certain times."

Wisconsin can vouch for that. After shooting 51.1 percent in a 24-point road win in the conference opener, the Badgers shot 35 percent or worse during a three game stretch that dropped them 1-3 in conference for the first time under Ryan.

"You can't take any night off in the Big Ten," said Berggren. "Doesn't matter who are playing, a team at the top of the standing or at the bottom, every team can play hard, every team is going to compete and every team is capable of beating anyone really. We have to keep our focus, keep our mental edge and be prepared to take their best shot and give our best shot right back at them."

Tuesday's game ends a stretch of three games in six days for Wisconsin, but the Badgers get something of a break having played the Gophers just 19 days ago. In a quick turnaround in the NCAA Tournament, no team gets a familiar opponent until at least the round of 16.

"Fortunately we've played Minnesota, so at least the familiarity will be at a higher IQ because of what they presented last time," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "So it isn't as if we're playing a team that we haven't played before. These are young guys. They can handle a heck of a lot (more) than most."

While Berggren suggested Ryan might use the NCAA Tournament schedule as an example, playing two games in three days, and Wilson called it good tournament preparation, his head coach said the analysis wouldn't even come up.

"We just play them," said Ryan. They tell us when and where and we lace them up."

Another Check Mark

Wilson will always regret never finishing on the left-hand side of the win/loss column in his four trips to the Breslin Center, but he would have never forgiven himself if he failed to win on any of his three opportunities in his home state.

"It really would have stuck with me forever," said Wilson.

Maybe that's why Wilson – a Cleveland Heights native – continued his hot shooting in Sunday's win over Ohio State. Two days after registering a season-high 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting against Iowa, Wilson hit a career-high 3 3-pointers in front of at least nine family and friends.

"All my family got to come out to see it, so I am just glad we were able to win, especially in front of my mom," said Wilson. "I just knocked down a couple of my shots after my teammates found me when I was wide open. I know I can help this team by bringing some energy off the bench. I am just trying to string things a long one after another."

Player Quotable

Berggren on the team's inconsistency this season

"It's tough. I don't know. It is a little disappointing for us at times to know what we're capable in beating a top-10 team on the road and have some other letdowns earlier in the season. It's a little frustrating at times, but we know what we're capable of. We kind of put that behind us at this point and know we can compete with anyone and we can beat anyone. Let's try to keep that mindset going forward."

Bo Quotable

on his YouTube video from the locker room following the Ohio State win

"That's the old basketball camp. You slow it down and you're working on the muscle memory reflex of the step, lead with the foot, pivot on it and your hands have to be out. It's a defensive stance. So after the Iowa, we did an awful lot of those, probably more than the players' liked. So I just wanted to tell them, ‘Let's get on the bus.' I just did it a little bit differently … a step at a time."

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