Even when it was struggling with its own shot last week, Wisconsin was still trying to make things as difficult as it could for opponents offensively.
However, the 14th-ranked Badgers could have a tough time slowing down Chase Stanback and UNLV on Saturday as they try to win their 44th consecutive home game against an unranked non-conference opponent.
Wisconsin avoided a third straight loss with a 70-42 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay on Wednesday. The Badgers (7-2) held the Phoenix to 32.1 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
Jordan Taylor had 15 points, a season-high 10 assists and no turnovers, while Jared Berggren had 13 points, four steals and three blocked shots.
After shooting 34.2 percent in losses to North Carolina and Marquette last week, Wisconsin went 12 of 33 (36.4 percent) from the field in the first half Wednesday before shooting 57.7 percent after the break. Among the Badgers that continue to struggle, Ben Brust, averaging 11.2 points, was held to six points on 2-of-8 shooting, while Mike Bruesewitz scored four.
“Shots aren’t falling for some guys right now, but we’ve just got to keep working, keep getting better every day and it will come,” Taylor said. “It just comes with staying aggressive.”
While its offense may not be consistent, Wisconsin’s defense continues to be stout, leading Division I in scoring defense (44.2) and ranking fourth in field-goal percentage defense (32.9). It has been particularly tough at home, limiting opponents to 39.8 points on 29.6 percent shooting.
If the Badgers can’t get their shots to fall, particularly from beyond the arc, where they are 16 of 64 (21.3 percent) the last three games, they’ll need their defense to stay aggressive against UNLV (9-1), which is averaging 83.0 points - 13th in the nation.
Justin Hawkins had 23 points, seven rebounds and five steals, while Stanback added 16 points and six boards.
Stanback is having an outstanding senior season. He’s second on the team with 15.1 points per game, averaging 19.8 in the last four games.
UNLV is looking for its second win over a ranked team this season. The Runnin’ Rebels stunned then-top-ranked North Carolina 90-80 on Nov. 26, shooting 13 of 32 from 3-point range.
However, they’ve struggled in their two true road games, losing to the Shockers while needing double overtime to defeat UC Santa Barbara 94-88 on Nov. 30.
UNLV has won its last two against Wisconsin, getting 25 points from Stanback in a 68-65 victory last year. The Badgers won the only home meeting in 2002.