Wisconsin appears to be back on track after pulling out a much-needed win over the weekend.
A visit from Northwestern could help coach Bo Ryan's team take another step in the right direction.
The No. 14 Badgers go for a 15th consecutive home win over the Wildcats as these Big Ten rivals square off Wednesday night.
Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3) gave up an average of 61.1 points in opening a school-record 16-0, then surrendered 77.7 per game in losing its next three. The Badgers got back to their defensive ways Saturday in a 72-58 win at Purdue, holding the Boilermakers to their second-lowest point total of the season.
"The fashion in which we lost those games is not characteristic to what this program is about," associate head coach Greg Gard said. "We had to get back to some things defensively and part of that was being more efficient offensively."
Frank Kaminsky had 16 points as every Wisconsin starter scored in double figures, and Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson added 15 apiece. Wisconsin made a season-high 27 free throws in 33 attempts.
"We knew what we had to do," Dekker said. "We took it into the paint more, shot more free throws. In some of those past games, I don't think we were being aggressive enough going to the rim. And when you shoot 33 free throws, you know you're doing something right."
The Badgers have done everything right against the Wildcats of late, especially at home. Wisconsin has held Northwestern to an average of 50.1 points and 38.9 percent shooting during a 14-game winning streak in Madison.
The Badgers have also taken 12 of 13 in the series overall, including seven straight by an average of 19.9 points. Wisconsin won 76-49 at Northwestern on Jan. 2 behind a season-high 19 points from freshman Nigel Hayes.
"Since then they have done a lot of things where they know they can play better than what they did," Ryan said of the Wildcats. "So they're much improved. They're playing well. ... People will tell you in the league they're playing as well as anybody. We know what we have coming in here."
Northwestern (10-11, 3-5) has defeated then-No. 23 Illinois and won at Indiana over the last two-plus weeks, but was overmatched in Saturday's 76-50 defeat to then-No. 10 Iowa. Leading scorer Drew Crawford had 20 points but reserve Tre Demps was the only other Wildcat to reach double figures with 11.
Northwestern, averaging 61.4 points to rank last in the league, was limited to 36.4 percent shooting and allowed the Hawkeyes to make 51.9 percent from the field. The Wildcats are 0-9 when allowing more than 64 points, and they had 18 turnovers Saturday.
"Our margin for error is slim," coach Chris Collins said. "When we play a team this good we're going to have to shoot well and we're going to have to not turn over. We're going to have to hope they miss some shots that they normally hit."
Crawford, averaging 15.6 points, has scored 9.5 per game in six meetings with Wisconsin. He finished with 10 and shot 3 of 11 on Jan. 2.
Center Alex Olah, who scored a career-high 23 points in that game, has averaged 6.0 while shooting 7 of 29 in the last three.
Northwestern has dropped 45 of its last 48 on the road against Top 25 foes.
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