STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
KEY MATCHUPS: Less than three weeks into its inaugural Big Ten season, and Nebraska is already facing a rematch. The Huskers expect to have center Jorge Brian Diaz for this one, and his inside presence might help them top 40 points this time against Wisconsin's stingy defense. Maybe.
TRENDING: The return of center Jorge Brian Diaz, who missed five games with chronic foot pain, has made a noticeable difference to Nebraska's offense.
And it's not because Diaz has been scoring lights-out, either. He had four points in a victory over Penn State. But his mere presence inside, and his touches, are opening up the rest of the offense.
Combine him guard Dylan Talley, who also missed the same five games as Diaz with a sore thigh, and you've got a Nebraska team that's shot better than 50 percent in back-to-back games (Illinois, Penn State) for the first time this season.
"I think the ball got inside 18 times (against Penn State) in the first half, and 13 good things happened," coach Doc Sadler said. "You can't play this game without having a low-post presence. I don't care what kind of guards you have."
After dropping three straight conference games to Iowa, Michigan State, and Michigan, the Badgers were desperate for their second Big Ten win when they played at Purdue on Thursday. Stopping the losing streak looked like a tough task, as the Badgers had won just one game in West Lafayette since 2005.
But despite all that history and a hot-and-cold shooting night, the Badgers (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten) were able to pull out a 67-62 win at Mackey Arena. Ben Brust lead the way for the Badgers, scoring 13 points off the bench and pulling down four rebounds. Boilermakers forward Robbie Hummel shoot just 8-for-25 from the floor for 13 points.
It wasn't a must-win game for the Badgers, but it certainly should give them a confidence boost as they head home to host Nebraska (9-7, 1-4) on Sunday evening. The Badgers will need to re-establish their usual home-court advantage, as they have dropped an uncharacteristically high three games at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Two of those losses came to ranked teams, Marquette and Michigan State, but they also lost a head-scratcher to Iowa, 72-65 on New Year's Eve. With just 12 games left in the regular season, the Badgers don't have much margin for error left.
When they return home, committing fewer turnovers could be a key for Wisconsin. The Badgers are averaging just 8.6 turnovers per game on the season, but they committed 11 on Thursday night, as well as 12 in their previous game against No. 13 Michigan. The Cornhuskers average 14.1 turnovers per game.
In addition, the Badgers should be looking for more consistency in their shooting. After losing a pair of experienced big men from last year's team, the Badgers have struggled to develop an inside game, and they have been forced to rely on their jump shooting and 3-pointers. While the Badgers were alternately hot and cold on the night against Purdue (13-5, 3-2), they ended up averaging 46 percent shooting from the floor. On Sunday, they will hope to avoid another cold-shooting effort like their 34.8 percent performance against Iowa.
TRENDING: The Badgers have been a streaky offensive team all season, and that tendency continued at Mackey Arena on Thursday. Wisconsin started the game hot, making five of six 3-point shots, but then went 0-for-8 to close out the first half. It's a microcosm of a season in which the Badgers have alternated between hot and cold shooting. The Badgers closed out the game shooting 46 percent from the floor, but they will need to make shots more consistently if they want to stay on track in the Big Ten.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--vs. Nebraska, Jan. 15 KEY MATCHUPS: The Badgers destroyed Nebraska in its first ever Big Ten contest back on Dec. 27 in Lincoln. This is certainly a matchup of teams struggling, with Nebraska winless in the Big Ten and the Badgers losing three straight league games after falling at Michigan. The Badgers limited Nebraska to 40 points in their first meeting with a good defensive effort.
--Junior F Mike Bruesewitz had a big game from long distance Thursday, shooting 4-for-4 from 3-point range. He also pulled down five rebounds and finished with 12 points. It's a good sign for a player who has struggled so far this season. Bruesewitz was shooting just 39.5 percent heading into the Purdue game, and the Badgers would certainly welcome more production from the 6-foot-6 forward.
--Senior PG Jordan Taylor was inconsistent against Purdue, scoring 12 points, with all of them coming in the second half. Taylor made his first field goal two minutes after halftime, and he ended the night shooting just 2-of-6 from the floor. However, he did make a mark on the game by hitting eight of 10 free throws, including two to ice the game at the end.