Stuck in a three-game losing streak, No. 11 Wisconsin wants to shore up its defense as it heads east to face Rutgers on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.
The Badgers (16-7, 8-4 Big Ten) dropped a close game to No. 2 Purdue last Sunday, but the other losses came in surprise fashion on the road. The skid began with an 80-72 overtime loss at Nebraska, and on Wednesday, Wisconsin fell 72-68 at Michigan — which had lost five straight games and sat last in the league entering the game.
“We can’t be starting the game trading baskets because it gives them confidence on the offensive end,” veteran forward Tyler Wahl told reporters postgame, “and it doesn’t set the tone for how we’ve played basketball at this program forever.”
Michigan shot 45.1 percent from the field, the third straight game that Wisconsin allowed at least 44.8 percent field-goal shooting. The Badgers also allowed Penn State to make 53.3 percent of its shots in an upset loss last month, so lax defense has become a recurring theme.
“The combination of defensively not getting the ball leveled off and stopped, fouling too much in the second half and the turnovers. That is the game right there,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.
Wisconsin has allowed 19, 18 and 19 made free throws during the losing streak.
AJ Storr continues to lead Wisconsin’s efficient offense with 16.5 points per game. Wahl adds 11.7 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the floor.
Rutgers (12-10, 4-7) may prove to be a bigger challenge than expected for the Badgers. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a pair of road victories over Michigan and Maryland that ended a three-game skid.
The key difference for Rutgers has been adding guard Jeremiah Williams to the starting lineup. Due in part to a sports betting suspension stemming from his time at Iowa State, Williams was not eligible to play until a district court granted an injunction last weekend.
He made his Rutgers debut against Michigan and scored 10 points with six rebounds. In Tuesday’s 56-53 win over Maryland, he scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-for-2 from the arc.
“I think we needed that, his spark,” teammate Mawot Mag told NJ.com. “That was one thing we were missing.”
Aundre Hyatt, Rutgers’ leading scorer at 11.4 points per game, moved to a bench role to make room for Williams in the lineup.
Saturday’s game will pit Wisconsin 7-footer Steven Crowl (10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) against Rutgers’ Clifford Omoruyi (10.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg). Omoruyi also averages 3.0 blocks per game and was named to the 15-man watch list for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
Wisconsin is just 3-5 in true road games, while Rutgers is 9-3 at home. In their only meeting last season, Rutgers won 58-57 at Wisconsin, with Omoruyi providing 12 points, eight boards and two blocks. But the last time the Badgers played in New Jersey, they prevailed 66-61 on Feb. 26, 2022.
–Field Level Media
Julian Reese poured in 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Maryland clamped down on host Rutgers for a 63-46 win Sunday afternoon in Piscataway, N.J. The Terrapins (15-13, 7-10 Big…
A single day off between games can be a blessing and a curse. It certainly can prepare you for the NCAA Tournament if you’re headed that way. But your mindset…
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the visiting Orlando Magic due to an injury to his left pinkie finger. Young, 25, averages a…
Arthur Kaluma, Kansas State look to topple West Virginia
Hawks G Trae Young out vs. Magic
Surging Magic take on Hawks, look to complete 3-game road sweep
Top 25 roundup: Wake Forest holds on, stuns No. 8 Duke