Iowa-Wisconsin Preview

The Associated Press

While Wisconsin's Division I-leading defense leaves little to be desired, its offensive numbers surely could use a boost.

If his most recent performance is any indication, Ryan Evans seems more than capable of providing that spark.

Looking to open 2-0 in Big Ten play for the sixth time in seven seasons, the 11th-ranked Badgers try for a 10th consecutive home victory over Iowa on Saturday.

Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0) is giving up average of 44.4 points and limiting opponents to 33.3 percent shooting to rank first in the country in both categories. The Badgers continued their defensive prowess in Tuesday's conference opener with a 64-40 rout at Nebraska.

It was Evans' effort on the offensive end of the court, though, that overshadowed the team's stingy display. The junior swingman scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, earning high praise from preseason All-American Jordan Taylor.

"I couldn't be happier for him," Taylor said. "He's a really talented player. He knows that, we know that. It's just that we've been waiting for him to come out and show that. He's played well all year long, but that's one of the best games he's played in his career. He was aggressive, didn't hesitate, and any time he does that he can be an all-conference player."

Evans had entered Big Ten play averaging 9.9 points. His emergence could open things up for Taylor, who has struggled a bit with opposing defenses keying in on him. Taylor continues to pace the Badgers despite averaging 12.4 points - 5.7 less than last season's mark - and hitting 38.7 percent from the floor.

Wisconsin ranks third from the bottom in the Big Ten in scoring (67.9 ppg) and has posted more than 70 points only once in its last eight games but could break out versus Iowa (8-6, 0-1). The Hawkeyes are surrendering an average of 74.8 points on 49.4 percent shooting while splitting their last six games.

They're last in the Big Ten in both categories this season, and that lack of defensive efficiency was on display during Wednesday's 79-76 loss to Purdue. The Boilermakers shot 50.0 percent from field, scoring plenty of uncontested baskets.

"I think the concerning thing for us, it's a pattern of behavior that we have consistently tried to change with a variety of things, and it's just not sinking in," coach Fran McCaffery said.

"We have just got to keep working at it and working at it until we can stop somebody. This is obviously a quality team. Everybody we play from here on is going to be high level. (We have to) buckle down and get after people."

Swingman Roy Devyn Marble continued his impressive play, posting 17 points and six assists. He's averaging 16.5 points on 50.8 percent shooting over six games since moving into the starting lineup.

Iowa, 11-49 on the road in conference play over the previous seven seasons, has been outscored by an average of 13.4 points during its nine-game losing streak at the Kohl Center.

The Hawkeyes, though, did take the then-No. 13 Badgers to overtime in a 62-59 home loss Feb. 9. Iowa has lost seven of the last eight overall meetings.

The Hawkeyes had dropped 23 straight versus Top 25 foes before defeating the last one they faced, upsetting then-No. 6 Purdue 67-65 on March 5. However, they've dropped 16 in a row against ranked teams on the road.

Wisconsin has posted 12 straight home victories over conference opponents, including a 9-0 record last season.