GAME NOTES: The ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers will try to snap out of their funk on Saturday afternoon, as they head to Mackey Arena for a Big Ten Conference showdown with the Purdue Boilermakers.
Wisconsin was flying high a few weeks back after running out to a 16-0 record, its best start in program history, but since then it has gone ice cold with its first three-game losing streak since the 2011-12 season. The Badgers most recently lost at Minnesota on Wednesday night, 81-68, to slip to 3-3 in the Big Ten and 3-2 on the road.
Purdue is also coming off a loss earlier in the week, as it dropped a 63-60 double-overtime decision at Northwestern to snap a three-game winning streak. The Boilermakers, who are also 3-3 in conference play, are 13-6 overall, which includes an excellent 10-1 mark at Mackey Arena.
In regards to the all-time series, Purdue holds a 105-65 advantage over Wisconsin, including a 69-56 triumph in the latest meeting on March 3, 2013 in Madison. The Boilermakers have dominated the Badgers at Mackey Arena over the years, winning 37-of-40 bouts.
The Badgers shot a respectable 44 percent from the field in their most recent game and made 19-of-23 from the free-throw line, but their typically-strong defense let them down in the 13-point loss, as they allowing Minnesota to make good on a lofty 58.9 percent of its tries from the field. Sam Dekker was stellar in spite of defeat, posting 20 points on 6-of-12 from the field and 7- of-8 at the line. Nigel Hayes was the only other player in double figures, netting 12 points off the bench.
Wisconsin has made a name for itself as one of the nation's top defensive squads this season, boasting a scoring defense of 63.7 ppg, but the unit has suffered during its three-game losing streak by allowing 77.7 ppg, a number which its offense (75.4 ppg on 47.2 percent field goal shooting) cannot support. Dekker paces the balanced squad with 14.1 ppg and 6.3 rpg, while Frank Kaminsky (13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg) is also impressive in the paint. Ben Brust has drained a team-best 50 3-pointers on his way to 12.9 ppg, and Traevon Jackson (10.9 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Josh Gasser (9.1 ppg) round out a lineup that has started every game together.
The Boilermakers surrendered leads late in both regulation and the first overtime before falling victim to a 6-0 Northwestern run in the second extra session on their way to a three-point loss. An outstanding defensive performance was spoiled by a dreadful showing on the other end of the floor, as they shot a meager 27.6 percent from, while scoring just 60 points in 50 minutes of play. A.J. Hammons wasn't especially strong from the floor (3- of-10) or the foul line (11-of-17) and committed seven turnovers, but he still finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson poured in 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Purdue may not be an offensive powerhouse, but it is much better than it showed earlier in the week, as it shoots 43.2 percent from the field for 75.2 ppg, which is 5.7 ppg more than it allows. It also lives in the green in terms of its rebounding (+4.3) and turnover (+0.9) margins. Terone Johnson scores 13.5 ppg to lead the way. Ronnie Johnson (10.9 ppg) hands out 3.7 apg, and Hammons is a difference maker in the frontcourt with 10.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 3.5 bpg.
Wisconsin has proven to be the more talented team this season, but it is currently spiraling with absolutely no momentum, and another road game is certainly worrisome, especially against a Purdue squad with just one home loss this season. It should go down to the wire, but expect the Boilermakers to step up down the stretch and hand the Badgers yet another loss.
Game Date and Time