Coming off one of its best offensive performances of the season, Wisconsin hopes to stay focused while looking to continue its success against struggling Northwestern.
The surging No. 19 Badgers try for a sixth straight victory over the host Wildcats in Wednesday night's Big Ten matchup.Three days after Wisconsin's three-game winning streak ended with a 58-53 overtime loss at Minnesota, the Badgers (18-8, 9-4) shot a season-high 52.7 percent in Sunday's 71-49 home rout of No. 18 Ohio State.Wisconsin showed its ability to bounce back from a frustrating defeat -- and third straight overtime contest. It had gone scoreless in the final five minutes of regulation, managed four points in the extra session and shot 30.5 percent overall against the Gophers."You have to keep pushing forward in this conference if you're going to be successful," forward Ryan Evans told Wisconsin's official website. "You really don't have time to get down on yourself. We know what we're looking to do here and there are going to be lows. But the lows are what creates the highs."The Badgers have plenty of highs to build on after breaking out to a 24-6 lead, recording 16 assists on 29 field goals and going 7 of 19 (36.8 percent) from 3-point range Sunday. Jared Berggren and Ben Brust each scored 15 points while Sam Dekker added 13. Brust also pulled down 11 rebounds and Berggren had four blocks."I think a big part is just knocking down shots," said Berggren, who has at least 13 points in three of the last four games while recording no fewer than eight boards during that span. "I think we got a lot of the same looks, but everything seems better when the ball goes in."Wisconsin is shooting just 39.9 percent in conference play, but leads the league by holding Big Ten opponents to 56.2 points per game on 39.4 percent shooting.The Badgers have shot 53.6 percent while averaging 75.8 points and allowing 57.3 in the last four meetings with Northwestern (13-13, 4-9). Wisconsin has outscored the Wildcats 138-96 to win its last two in Evanston and has taken 10 of 11 overall in the series.Evans had 17 points with nine rebounds while Mike Bruesewitz added 13 points, five boards, four assists and two steals in last season's 77-57 home win.Though the Badgers have won four of five at Northwestern and the Wildcats are mired in a season-worst three-game skid, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan understands his team must be prepared to patiently handle the hosts' deliberate, Princeton-style system."The way they play their defense, it is different on their reads and the way they scramble and their -- they have their rules or reads, and offensively they obviously do, and they do them at a little quicker pace because they know exactly what the next move is, what the next read is," Ryan said."They are hard to prepare for that way, but you just get (the players) ready."The Wildcats have averaged 52.3 points while losing three straight overall by an average of 15.0. Northwestern shot a season-low 25.0 percent (12 of 48) in Sunday's 62-41 home loss to Illinois.Leading scorer Reggie Hearn (14.0 points per game) had a team-high 11, but shot 3 of 11. He scored 11 and was 2 of 6 from the field in last season's loss at Wisconsin.