Wright stuff? Wisconsin has locked on

Hoosier star has never scored in double figures against the Badgers

Bracey Wright is a scorer's scorer. The 6-foot-3 junior guard is the face of the Indiana men's basketball team, the star on a squad that has limped to a 5-7 start. Wright is averaging 17.8 points per game but is coming off one of the worst performances of his career: a 7-point, 5-turnover affair in a 73-52 loss at Northwestern.

Wright has bounced back from such performances in the past. In his last five games following a single-digit outing he is averaging 22.2 points per game. The Hoosiers' ace, however, cannot be pleased with the task that lies before him Saturday, when Wisconsin visits Bloomington, Ind. In three previous matchups with the Badgers, Wright has scored just 21 points total on miserable 9 of 41 shooting.

Last season it was Boo Wade who locked onto Wright, limiting him to 15 points on 6 of 31 shooting over the course of two games. With Wade gone, Wisconsin's top perimeter defender has become Clayton Hanson—the 6-5 senior guard will likely draw Wright Saturday.

"He's got all the tools," Hanson said. "He can shoot, he can get to the basket…He's a tough matchup problem for a lot of teams. We are going to try to defend him as best we can by sticking to our rules and follow our game plan."

UW senior point guard Sharif Chambliss' last two games in a Penn State uniform were against Wright and Indiana two seasons ago. Wright scored 21 points in the Big Ten finale that year but then tallied just seven in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

"Let me tell you he can shoot from anywhere on the floor," Chambliss said. "He can score all types of ways. He can post up, he can shoot it from deep, he can drive, he can penetrate. He's a great player."

"There are going to be a lot of picks [Saturday]," Chambliss said. "We have to execute our principles defensively and we have to stick to them. We have to make sure that we can find him in transition. If he's the ‘1' guard or the ‘2' guard, we've got to find him."

Talk of "principles" and "sticking to our rules" is rampant among the Badgers.

"It's just about doing the right thing," Hanson said. "All you can really do is just knowing that you are doing what coach is asking for of you. If you have all five guys doing that I think it will take care of itself."

Wisconsin has been "doing the right thing" often this year, only allowing 57.8 points per game. The Hoosiers have struggled offensively, averaging just 61.8 points per game. If Indiana is going to be anything but stagnant Saturday, it will need a big performance from Wright.

In defending a perimeter scorer like Wright, the idea is to keep him out of his comfort zone. Chase him all over the floor, tailing his every move, especially when he tries to use a screen.

"As a shooter you are probably looking for a space first of all," said Chambliss, who knows a thing or two about shooting.

"You are probably looking for space if you have the ball in your hand," Chambliss said. "You are going to read the defender, see how far he is off you. Once you look at that basket that makes your defender respect you and then if somebody else is open you can see them while you are looking at the basket.

"Second of all he is looking [at] what does he have to do next to get his shot, especially as a scorer. [Wright's] more of a scorer, I wouldn't call him as much a shooter. He's a great shooter but he's a scorer."

When Wright comes off a screen, the defender has to go over the top of it, staying on Wright's hip rather than trying to dance underneath the screen.

"There are so many good shooters that if you try to go underneath the screen and just get caught up one second that's all they need," Hanson explains. "You just have to stay on their tail and chase through them. As a shooter it's hard if you have a guy breathing down on your neck to have the confidence to get the shot off."

"In this league guys are so good that one little mistake and it's three points, from a guard's perspective anyway," Hanson said. "If you go under a screen and a guy gets an open shot, it's going in more times than not."

Wright has made 161 career 3-pointers, sixth-most in Indiana history. But he has zero versus the Badgers. His 7.0 points per game in three outings against Wisconsin is 10.4 below his career average. Hanson and the Badgers hope those numbers hold up Saturday.


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