Lincoln, NE (SportsNetwork.com) - The fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers seek a regular-season sweep of the Nebraska Cornhuskers when the two teams collide in a Big 12 Conference showdown at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday night.
In the midst of a six-game win streak, Wisconsin continues it quest for the Big Ten title as it brings a league ledger of 9-1 into this contest, good enough for first place as its nearest competitors (Maryland, Ohio State, Indiana and Purdue) all have 7-4 records. At 21-2 overall, the Badgers are off to one of the best starts in program history, and they are seeking their seventh win in eight true road games this season.
Nebraska's season started with so much promise, as it ran out to a 5-1 record before the wheels began to fall off. The team has gone just 8-9 since, and that includes its 5-6 mark against Big Ten competition. A 56-43 loss at Penn State last Saturday was the Cornhuskers' most recent disappointment, and it also marked the third time in the last four games that the team has been held in the 40s, after not falling that low in its previous 19 outings.
Wisconsin hammered Nebraska in Madison in the first meeting between the two teams back on Jan. 15, 70-55. All-America candidate Frank Kaminsky paced the Badgers with 22 points, and he was joined in double figures by four others, while Nebraska's Terran Petteway led all scorers with 27 points.
As a result, the Badgers knotted the all-time series with the Cornhuskers at 11-11, and it gave them wins in six of the last seven meetings.
Sam Dekker and Brandon Koenig scored 16 points apiece to lead Wisconsin to its most recent triumph -- a 65-50 decision at home against Northwestern this past Saturday. Kaminsky added 12 points and nine rebounds, while Nigel Hayes was credited with 11 points and eight board for the Badgers, who won the game easily despite shooting just 38.9 percent from the field. They heaved up 28 3- point attempts, but only nine of them were successful. A stellar 14-of-17 performance at the foul line, coupled with a 39-28 rebounding advantage and a defensive effort that held the Wildcats to 39.6 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 4-of-14 showing beyond the arc, helped the overall cause.
Kamimsky continues to make his case for Big Ten Player of the Year as he is averaging 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, while also leading the Badgers in assists (54), steals (19) and blocks (35). Dekker (12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Hayes (12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) are also netting double figures for a Wisconsin club that puts up 74 ppg in hitting 48.6 percent of its total shots, including 35.9 percent from 3-point land, while at the same time converting 75.9 percent of its free throws. The Badgers, who commit only 7.5 turnovers per game, have also excelled at the defensive end as they permit a league-low 56.2 ppg.
Nebraska really struggled in last Saturday's game at Penn State, as the visitors shot just 29.4 percent from the floor, making good on only 2-of-20 3- point attempts in the process. Conversely, the Nittany Lions knocked down nine treys as part of a 43.2 percent shooting effort overall, and they claimed a 39-26 advantage in rebounds. Petteway led the Huskers with 13 points, but he went just 4-of-12 from the floor, missing the mark on all but one of his seven 3-point tries. Shavon Shields was only 4-of-13 in the game, but came close to logging a double-double by scoring 12 points and clearing eight boards.
Petteway and Shields are really the only Cornhuskers worth noting at this point, as they average 18.7 and 15.9 ppg to rank third and seventh in the Big Ten, respectively. Because no other player on the roster nets more than 7.0 ppg, Nebraska is scoring a meager 62.8 ppg, which ranks it 13th in the 14-team conference, but with opponents averaging only 60.9 ppg, the Huskers are currently second in the league in scoring defense. With an allowance of only .391 on field goal attempts, the team ranks third.