Wisconsin hasn’t lost consecutive Big Ten home games in a little over eight years.
The 15th-ranked Badgers look to avoid that from happening while trying to keep pace in the conference race when they meet Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin (20-4, 10-2) returns home after a dramatic 68-66 win at No. 13 Indiana on Wednesday.
The victory came after a 72-67 loss to then-No. 24 Purdue last Saturday that snapped the Badgers’ 16-game conference home winning streak. It was also just the third league home loss in coach Bo Ryan’s seven seasons at Wisconsin.
The Badgers, who are one game behind the 19th-ranked Boilermakers for first place in the Big Ten, haven’t lost consecutive league games at home since falling to Iowa on Jan. 29, 2000 and to then-No. 6 Michigan State two weeks later.
Though Wisconsin was able to bounce back against Indiana in a game that featured 17 lead changes and six ties, the home loss to Purdue still stings the Badgers, who will play three of their final six at the Kohl Center.
“We let one slip,” Wisconsin center Brian Butch said. “We’re in a better situation if we take care of the Purdue game. We realize we didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities that were out there, but we got a big one (at Indiana).”
Butch, the team’s leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, banked in a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left Wednesday to help the Badgers beat Indiana. The 6-foot-11 senior, who is 11-for-45 from 3-point range this season, finished with 13 points.
“It kept us around (in the Big Ten race),” Butch said of the shot. “We always feel like we’re in it, but statistically, we are in it. We want to keep on going and keep on playing hard.”
Reserve Jason Bohannon finished with 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from 3-point range and Michael Flowers had 15 for the Badgers, who will try for their sixth consecutive victory over Minnesota (15-8, 5-6).
Wisconsin won 63-47 in Minneapolis on Feb. 3 as Trevon Hughes had 20 points and Butch added 11 for the Badgers, who shot 48.9 percent.
Though Minnesota hasn’t won in Madison since the 1991-92 season, the Gophers are 3-2 on the road in the Big Ten.
Their NCAA tournament chances took a hit Tuesday when they shot a season-low 33.3 percent in an 84-60 home loss to struggling Illinois.
Minnesota also allowed the Illini to shoot 58.8 percent, the most by a Gophers’ opponent this season and the fourth consecutive game the opposition has shot better than 47.0 percent against them.
“We are disappointed because we couldn’t defend our home court and we’re under .500 again in the conference,” said guard Lawrence Westbrook, who had 10 points and four assists versus the Illini. “It’s a tough loss.”
The 6-foot sophomore led the Gophers with 11 points against Wisconsin earlier this season.