After dropping a tough one to Indiana earlier in the week, the Wisconsin Badgers were looking to bounce back in a big way against the Michigan Wolverines Saturday at the Kohl Center.
Once again their defense did not get the memo.
It’s a troubling trend right now for the Badgers, who find themselves two games back in the Big Ten race behind Michigan and Michigan State. For a team that is putting up big numbers on the offensive end of the floor, it’s their defense that must tighten up before this starts getting out of hand.
Just like Tuesday at Assembly Hall against Indiana, the Badgers were weak on defense especially defending ball screens. Numerous times the Wolverines would use that ball screen to their advantage to hit easy 15-foot jumpers. With Wisconsin defending the screen very soft or late switching, Michigan had no problems knocking down shots.
Sophomore guard Nik Stauskas, who is making a case as top player in conference and who hit a late three to put Michigan up for good after a frantic Wisconsin run, scored a game-high 23 points for the Wolverines. Fellow guard Caris LeVert was not far behind with 20 points and Glenn Robinson III finished the night 6-for-8 and scoring 14 points.
Scoring was not an issue for the Badgers, as they put up at least 70 points for the ninth consecutive game in a row. Leading the way for Wisconsin was Josh Gasser, who was on fire in the first half, but only scored 3 of his team-high 16 points in the second half. Ben Brust finished with a nice game, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds. Frank Kaminsky also added 14 and Sam Dekker had a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds to go with 10 points.
But if you can’t stop the other team from scoring, putting up a lot of points is not going to mean much. Wisconsin has now allowed opponents to score at least 70 points in four-straight games, something Bo Ryan knows must be fixed quickly before a conference title gets out of reach:
I know the weaknesses and other people will find out eventually. The thing is you plug one hole. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a football game. Your defense gave up X number of points and then you fix that, and then the offense. Some of these guys have to fight though some of this.
Things do not get any easier for the Badgers either. On Wednesday the Badgers travel to Williams Arena to face a Minnesota Gophers team that just knocked off the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes. Then on Saturday Wisconsin travels to face Purdue at Mackey Arena, a place that has not been too kind to the Badgers.