Badgers and Boilermakers meet in Big Ten brawl
Madison, WI (Sports Network) - The 17th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers will play their final home game of the season on Sunday afternoon, as they welcome the Purdue Boilermakers to the Kohl Center for a Big Ten Conference clash.
Purdue has failed to break free from mediocrity this season, as it is 13-15 overall and alone in ninth place in the Big Ten with a 6-9 conference mark. The Boilermakers dropped a 58-48 road decision at Iowa on Wednesday night for their fourth loss in the last five games.
As for Wisconsin (20-8), it has soared this season, having logged signature wins over fellow Big Ten powerhouses Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana. The Badgers improved to 15-2 at the Kohl Center this season following their 77-46 rout of Nebraska on Tuesday, and at 11-4 in the league, they are still in the mix for the regular season conference title with three games remaining.
Purdue holds a 104-65 advantage over Wisconsin in the all-time series, although the Badgers have bested the Boilermakers in Madison more times than not (45-37).
Despite playing outstanding defense its last time out, holding Iowa to a lowly 31.4 percent shooting, Purdue never led in the game, shooting just 36.5 percent from the field itself, losing the turnover battle (16-9) and getting outscored at the foul line, 21-7. Despite the disappointing setback, Donnie Hale (13 points) and A.J. Hammons (12 points, nine rebounds) both took advantage of extended time off the bench, combining to shoot 11-of-18 from the field. D.J. Byrd added 11 points, while Ronnie Johnson tallied 10 points and six assists before fouling out late in the game. The Boilermakers are usually more potent at the offensive end, but not by much, as their scoring average (64.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (.415) both rank ninth in the league. Terone Johnson shoots less than 40 percent from the field, but he generates enough volume to net a team-high 12.7 ppg. Hammons is in the midst of an impressive freshman campaign with 10.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 2.0 bpg. Ronnie Johnson (9.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Byrd (9.5 ppg, 62 3PM) are also regular contributors, but each shoots an identical 36.8 percent from the floor.
Wisconsin made easy work of Nebraska earlier in the week, outshooting the Cornhuskers from the field, 50.9 percent to 32.8 percent, while leading the contest by as many as 38 points. Twelve players scored in the triumph for UW, paced by a 19-point effort off the bench from Sam Dekker, who drained 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Ryan Evans tallied 14 points and seven rebounds, while Ben Brust scored 13 points. The Badgers' offense this season has been simply modest, as they net 43 percent of their field goal attempts for 67.4 ppg, but they have risen to elite status in perhaps the nation's best conference thanks to their stout defense, which ranks first in the Big Ten in allowing just 55.3 ppg to their opponents. Their strength comes in the paint, where Jared Berggren leads the way with 11.6 ppg on 49 percent field goal shooting, adding 6.9 rpg and 2.0 bpg for good measure. Joining Berggren down low is Evans, who notches 10.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Brust (11.4 ppg) is a guard equally impressive amongst the trees (5.5 rpg) as he is out on the perimeter (64 treys, 2.5 apg, 0.9 spg). Dekker drains nearly 45 percent of his shots from beyond the arc for 9.5 ppg.
03/03 10:45:02 ET