Three-Point Shot: at Illinois

Before Wisconsin takes on Illinois at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill., tonight, Badger Nation looks at the three burning questions we're looking to have answered.

There's no doubt that Wisconsin has some figuring out to do before they play Illinois tonight. Even though they did a better job of defending the paint against Ohio State, they struggled to close out the game by missing critical free throws and failing to string together stops to end the game.

Wisconsin's struggles might suggest that the Badgers should change things up in the starting lineup, but Coach Bo Ryan quickly squashed that idea during his post game press conference. Over Ryan's tenure, Wisconsin has rarely changed up his starting lineup, even when Wisconsin went on a six game losing streak back in the 2008 season.

In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin to have success against Illinois.

Lay up: Can the Badgers duplicate their performance against Illinois from their first meeting?

The first time Wisconsin played Illinois they were in control of the game from the opening tip and were able to find success on offense throughout the game. Wisconsin was able to go on a 20-0 run in the first meeting and was able to avoid scoring droughts, which has plagued the Badgers over the last three games.

Against Ohio State, the Badgers were able to do a good job of stringing some good offensive possessions when they were able to work the basketball around and got the ball down low. But at times Wisconsin tried to rush things on offense and settled for shots that they probably shouldn't have taken.

Wisconsin was able to find success in the paint in the first meeting (scoring 36 points) and need to try and get the ball to Frank Kaminsky or Nigel Hayes to see what they can do against Illinois interior defense.

Mid-range jumper: Can Sam Dekker have a bounce back game?

For all the talk Dekker did following the Northwestern loss, he didn't personally show up against the Buckeyes and played one of his worst games on the year. Dekker scored 17 points in the first meeting against the Illini, was aggressive throughout and got to the free throw line nine times.

Dekker has the ability to take over the game but we have yet to see it on a consistent basis. Maybe that's what the team needs someone who can take the game over and someone who's willing to take ownership of the team. Dekker may not be that player to lead this team but someone is going to have to step up soon.

It seems like Dekker isn't playing with any confidence right now, and somebody is going to have to try and step up besides Hayes. Dekker needs to start looking for his shot. In order for him to have the bounce back game, he and the Badgers need him to have to give a much better effort on the defensive side of the floor.

One of the reasons why Dekker was benched against Ohio State was due to his poor effort on the defensive side of the floor; he just seemed disinterested against Ohio State. Even though Dekker is a talented offensive player, Ryan will not tolerate poor effort on defense.

3-pointer: Can Wisconsin slow down Rayvonte Rice and Joseph Bertrand?

Even though Wisconsin won by 25 in the first meeting, Rice and Bertrand both had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Although Rice had 19 points, he didn't have an effective shooting performance - going 7-for-21 in the game. Betrand shot the basketball much better going 7-for-10.

Wisconsin at times this year has struggled to stop dribble penetration by guards and it could be a long night if they allow Rice and Bertrand any sort of penetration. It will be up to Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson to try and slow them down. Although Gasser has had a down year on defense, Jackson at times has looked disinterested. They'll need to come out aggressive and try and force both of them into shots that they may not want to take.

If the Illini have success with dribble penetration, Kaminsky and Hayes will both have to be strong down low and try and alter shots.


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