Breakdown: Northwestern at No.14 Wisconsin

Back on the winning track and playing four of its next five games at home, No.14 Wisconsin looks for its 15th straight home win over Northwestern when the two teams square off at the Kohl Center tonight. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

Northwestern (10-11, 3-5 Big Ten) at No.14 Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Wednesday, January 29, 8 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,249)

Television -Big Ten Network (Brian Andersen and Mike Kelley)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 112-61 (Wisconsin leads 64-20 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 76-49, on January 2, 2014 in Evanston, Ill.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Senior Guard, 12.8 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Junior Guard, 11.2 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 14.2 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Junior Guard, 9.2 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Junior Forward, 13.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

10 Nigel Hayes (6-7 Freshman Forward, 6.8 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-9 Junior Forward, 3.2 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-3 Freshman Guard, 3.4 ppg)

Northwestern Probable Starters

1 Drew Crawford (6-5 Senior Forward, 15.6 ppg)

13 Kale Abrahamson (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 4.0 ppg)

22 Alex Olah (7-0 Sophomore Center, 8.5 ppg)

23 Jershon Cobb (6-5 Junior Guard, 11.3 ppg)

34 Sanjay Lumpkin (6-5 Freshman Forward, 4.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Dave Sobolewski (6-1 Junior Guard, 6.3 ppg)

14 Tre Demps (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 10.8 ppg)

32 Nathan Taphorn (6-7 Freshman Forward, 2.8 ppg)

Last Time Out

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - No.9 Wisconsin regained some defensive swagger following a 72-58 victory over Purdue Saturday in front of 14,845 at Mackey Arena.

Five players scored in double figures, led by Frank Kaminsky's game-high 16 points, to lead the Badgers (17-3, 4-3) to just their third win at Mackey since 1972, but the victory was obtained more by what happened on the defensive end compared to the offense.

Beaten to a pulp over the last three games by teams willing to drive to the bucket with little to no resistance, Wisconsin held Purdue (13-7, 3-4) to 35.4 percent from the field and no players over 11 points.

More importantly, the Badgers' five-game streak of allowing opponents to score 70-or-more points – the longest such streak in two decades – finally ended.

"These guys are resilient," said UW associate head coach Greg Gard. "That's one thing this program always prides itself on. The fashion in which we lost those games is not characteristic of what this program has been about, and we had to get back to some things defensively."

The Boilermakers certainly gave the Badgers assistance, taking more than their fair share of perimeter shots early in the shot clock instead of pounding the ball into the paint. Had the Boilermakers done that, they could have scored much more than their 40 points in the paint, which ran UW's total to 232 points in the last five games.

"I don't think guys were ready to play," said Purdue senior Terone Johnson, one of two Boilers who scored 10. "For a game like this, you've got to be ready to play."

Wisconsin took advantage, reeling off a 17-4 run near the start that set the tone. Purdue never led after the opening 90 seconds and was only able to tie the game twice more, none coming in the second half.

- Benjamin Worgull,

Last Time Out

EVANSTON, Ill. - No.4 Wisconsin took up residence in the paint against hapless Northwestern and Hayes was the primary tenant, scoring a career-high 19 points in a 76-49 shellacking at Welsh-Ryan Arena Thursday.

The Badgers (14-0, 1-0 Big Ten) continue the best start in program history, and won their 11th straight conference opener, by scoring 44 of its points in the paint, putting at least four players into double figures for the 10th time this season and saw seven of the nine players who attempted shots shoot over 50 percent, including Hayes going 8-for-12 from the floor.

Fresh off being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, the true freshman out of Toledo wasn't intimidated by the start of conference play. Hayes upped his scoring average to 6.4 per game, added a career-high six rebounds and had three assists with no turnovers.

Over the last three games, Hayes is averaging 15.3 points after averaging just 4.0 in his first 11 games.

Northwestern (7-7, 0-1) has shied away from the Princeton offense and its infamous backdoor cuts under first year head coach Chris Collins, but that didn't stop the Badgers from executing multiple backdoor sliders that led to easy post points. In reality, UW did everything right in the paint from low post moves, to dribble drives, to slam dunks that all created easy bunnies.

Wisconsin ended up shooting 59.3 percent in the first half, building a 40-14 halftime lead, and 55.2 percent for the game.

- Benjamin Worgull,

Series Notes

The Badgers have won seven straight over the Wildcats by an average of 19.9 points per game. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by 20+ points.

The Badgers have won 12 of the last 13 match-ups overall against the Wildcats. UW has out-rebounded NU in each of those 13 games, by an average of 12.7 rpg. Bo Ryan is 17-4 all-time vs. Northwestern.

UW has won 14 straight home games vs. NU. The Cats last won in Madison in 1996 at the UW Field House. NU is 0-13 all-time in the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin Notes

Through 20 games, UW is averaging 75.2 points per game, an increase of 10.2 ppg from last season's 65.0-point average. UW hasn't averaged 73 points in a season since the 1994-95 team scored 73.0 per game.

Since the 2009-10 season, UW is 49-1 when shooting better than 40.0% from the 3-point line.

Wisconsin is averaging just 7.7 turnovers per game during Big Ten play. UW already owns the top 2 spots in the conference record book for fewest TOs in Big Ten play with 6.4 per game in 2011 and 8.1 in 2010.

UW's opponents are averaging just 13.7 free throw attempts this season, which is the fewest in the NCAA.

Northwestern Notes

This is the third time in school history that NU has taken on six ranked foes in a month, having previously done so in January 1999 and January 2013. The Wildcats' list of ranked teams this month doesn't include Michigan which was unranked at the time of the teams' meeting on Jan. 5 but has since surged to No. 10 in this week's Associated Press poll.

Drew Crawford is the Big Ten's active leading scorer with 1,729 career points. The total ranks fourth in school history and is 76 points shy of Evan Eschmeyer (1995-99) for third place. Crawford ranks 15th nationally among all active Division I players.

Redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin has been an effective rebounder so far this season. His average of 5.0 rebounds per game ranks second among all Big Ten freshmen, trailing only Indiana's Noah Vonleh (9.6 rpg).

Tre Demps has provided Northwestern with some scoring punch off the bench so far this season. The redshirt sophomore is averaging 10.8 points per game, including scoring in double figures 13 times.


Did Wisconsin awake the Northwestern beast?

Wisconsin won this season's earlier match-up by leading 40-14 at halftime and shooting 55.2 percent from the field to cruise in the conference opener. In his first season at Northwestern, Chris Collins, a former Duke assistant, looked like he had a long rebuilding project on his hands.

Now when the two teams meet 27 days later, the separation between the two programs has grown slightly closer, as the Wildcats have a defense that the Badgers are likely envious of. During a four-game stretch from Jan. 12-21 against Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue, the Wildcats held their foes to a combined 29.5 percent shooting (69-for-234).

Northwestern lost twice to Iowa since playing Wisconsin, both by 26 points, but showed more competitiveness in the second meeting in Evanston. The Wildcats also lost by 14 to Michigan State, but held the Spartans to 38.5 percent shooting.

It's evident that Northwestern has found its identity - tempo, toughness and gritty defense – to help overcome some of the shortcoming on its roster.

"They're much improved," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "They're playing well. You take away maybe eight minutes, eight, nine minutes of that game against Iowa. And people will tell you in the league they're playing as well as anybody. We know what we have coming in here."

That's all well and good, but the truth remains is that the Wildcats still are struggling offensively. Northwestern ranks last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (36.0), 3-point field goal percentage (23.4) and free throw percentage (67.8).

Wisconsin played better defensively in its 72-58 victory over Purdue Saturday compared to its three game losing streak when team bludgeoned the Badgers in the paint. Purdue did the same thing, scoring 40 points in the lane, but the Badgers showed better rotations, communication and challenged more shots.

"We had better action-reaction to things Purdue was trying to do," said Ryan.

Combine the fact that Wisconsin has six players who can lead the team in scoring, the Badgers are playing at home and Northwestern doesn't have that legitimate low-post scoring threat that has killed Wisconsin this season, UW should be able to register a 19-point victory before its schedule gets really tough.

Worgull's Record: 15-5

Points off Prediction: 167 (8.4 per game)

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