Indiana-Wisconsin Preview

The Associated PressJanuary 25, 2012

Three-game losing streaks left Indiana and Wisconsin trying to make up ground in the Big Ten race, but their coaches still feel good about their chances.

The 16th-ranked Hoosiers will try to snap a 10-game losing streak in Madison when they visit the No. 25 Badgers on Thursday night.

Indiana won three of its first four conference games, counting then-No. 2 Ohio State as one of its victims, but then lost its next three to drop to the middle of the Big Ten standings.

The Hoosiers (16-4, 4-4) will try to build on a 73-54 win over Penn State on Sunday. Cody Zeller scored 18 points and Indiana overcame a two-point halftime deficit by shooting 65.2 percent in the second half.

"As I told them, 16 wins, 16 different ways," coach Tom Crean said. "If you do it right, you just take the experience from those games and it helps you somewhere along the line."

The Hoosiers will take any help they can get against one of the five teams ahead of them. Wisconsin (16-5, 5-3) has won 10 straight between the two in Madison since Indiana's 69-59 victory Jan. 25, 1998.

Indiana was ranked in three of those losses.

Zeller will be key to stopping that streak. The Hoosiers' leading scorer averages 15.1 points and leads the Big Ten with a 65.9 field-goal percentage that's third nationally.

"He is very talented and very gifted," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said of Zeller. "He plays hard. He plays physical. He plays tough. He makes difficult shots."

While Zeller is playing well, the Hoosiers could use more from junior forward Christian Watford, who averaged 9.0 points and shot 30.6 percent the last four games. In the previous eight, he scored 16.6 points per game while shooting 48.3 percent.

Indiana needs a balanced scoring effort to challenge Wisconsin's defense. The Badgers allow the fewest points in Division I (49.6 points per game) and limit opponents to just 35.9 percent from the field.

Wisconsin has rebounded from its own three-game losing streak by winning the last four. The Badgers defeated then-No. 22 Illinois 67-63 on Sunday to move back into the Top 25.

Jordan Taylor scored 19 points - 14 in the second half - and Jared Berggren added 18. Wisconsin went 9 of 22 from 3-point range.

The Badgers have righted the shooting woes that plagued them during their losing streak. After averaging 55.3 points and shooting 33.3 percent during their skid, they've averaged 65.3 points and shot 43.4 percent since.

"You're into January now, so hopefully all those parts are meshing," coach Bo Ryan told the Badgers' official website. "What I'm hoping is that we're maturing as a team and we can continue to move in that direction."

Taylor is shooting just 39.6 percent overall this season, but is 6 for 13 from 3-point range the last two games while averaging 13.0 points in the second half of those contests.

Perhaps a visit from the Hoosiers will get him going even more. Taylor totaled 67 points in two games against the Hoosiers last season, scoring a career-high 39 in a 77-67 victory in Bloomington on March 3.

Wisconsin has won eight straight overall against Indiana.