GAME NOTES: The third-ranked Wisconsin Badgers attempt to keep their unblemished season alive on Tuesday night, as they head into hostile territory at Assembly Hall to face off against the Indiana Hoosiers in a Big Ten Conference bout.
Wisconsin has been nothing short of flawless this season at 16-0, its best start in school history and its second-longest winning streak behind only a 17-game run during the 2006-07 campaign. The Badgers have opened up Big Ten action with three straight victories, conquering Northwestern on the road (76-49) before returning home to take down Iowa (75-71) and Illinois (95-70).
Indiana, on the other hand, has stumbled out of the gate in league action at 1-2, although it was able to take down Penn State on the road on Saturday afternoon, 79-76. The Hoosiers are now 11-5 on the year, which includes a 9-1 mark at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers own a 93-67 advantage in the all-time series with the Badgers, which includes a 51-27 mark in Bloomington. Wisconsin has had Indiana's number in recent years however, winning 12 in a row.
The Badgers opened up a 25-point lead at the half of their most recent game versus Illinois and cruised to the victory from there, outshooting their opponent from the field, 56.1 percent to 31.6 percent, while committing only four turnovers on the evening. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Ben Brust, who scored 17 points on 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Sam Dekker finished with 17 points and six rebounds, Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson scored 15 points apiece and Nigel Hayes came off the bench to net 11.
Wisconsin has grown accustomed to dominating efforts this season, as it boasts an outstanding +15.3 scoring margin by shooting 47.2 percent from the field for 75.4 ppg while allowing a mere 61.1 ppg on 40.5 percent shooting. It has been deadly from beyond the arc, making 8.4 3-pointers per game at nearly a 40 percent clip, and with positive margins in terms of rebounding (+3.4) and turnovers (+2.3), the team has no discernable weaknesses. Dekker leads the team in both scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg), while he and Kaminsky (13.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) both make field goals at greater than 51 percent efficiency. Burst (13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Jackson (10.8 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Josh Gasser (8.6 ppg) round out one of the nation's best starting fives that have started all 16 games together.
The Hoosiers trailed PSU by double digits in the first half but managed to climb all the way back to take the lead with 1:22 remaining on an Austin Etherington 3-pointer and held on down the stretch for their first league victory. They were outshot from the field on the afternoon, 43.6 percent to 36.2 percent, but made a stellar 29-of-35 from the free-throw line and earned extra possessions by winning both the rebounding (37-32) and turnover (13-12) battles. Noah Vonleh led the way with 19 points and six rebounds, while Kevin Ferrell added 15 points and seven assists.
Indiana has also impressed on both ends of the floor this season, shooting just shy of 46 percent from the field for 80.2 ppg while allowing less than 69 points per contest. It's also one of the nation's premiere rebounding teams, owning a +12.8 margin on the glass, although its turnover margin (-2.9) has hindered it quite a bit. Ferrell leads the team with 17.5 ppg, doing a large portion of his damage from beyond the arc (44-of-100), while adding 4.2 apg for good measure. Vonleh is a double-double threat on any give night with 12.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Will Sheehey brings 10.8 ppg to the table, while Evan Gordon, Troy Williams and Jeremy Hollowell all net between 7.4 and 7.7 ppg.
The Hoosiers are no pushover at home, but Wisconsin has been up to the challenge in road games this year. The Badgers are on a roll and show no signs of slowing down, so expect another well-rounded performance en route to a strong conference victory.
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