Minnesota-Wisconsin Preview

The Associated Press

Wisconsin didn't dwell on a disappointing loss last week, bouncing back with a big road victory over the weekend.

Trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this month - and clinch a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament - the 14th-ranked Badgers host Minnesota on Tuesday night.

After a 67-66 loss at Iowa on Thursday, Wisconsin regrouped Sunday with a 63-60 win at then-No. 8 Ohio State.

While the Badgers (21-8, 10-6) had no answer for the Hawkeyes' Matt Gatens, who scored 33 points against them, they limited Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger to eight points and six rebounds. They forced 10 turnovers in the first half in a much better overall defensive effort.

Jordan Taylor scored a team-high 19 points while Jared Berggren added 18, including Wisconsin's final five points. He hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left as the Badgers came back from an eight-point deficit in the second half.

"You always measure people by what it takes to discourage them," coach Bo Ryan said. "If you get discouraged and you get frustrated it certainly doesn't help in the game of basketball. Our guys stayed to the task."

The win kept Wisconsin alone in fourth place in the Big Ten - one game ahead of Indiana and Purdue. The top four finishers earn first-round byes in the conference tournament, and the Badgers would clinch one of those spots with a victory either Tuesday or Sunday against struggling Illinois.

"It's awesome," Taylor said. "Especially late in the season. We came off a tough loss against Iowa and to be able to come into an environment like this against a great team, it's really big for us."

The Badgers will try to keep things going at home, although they haven't had much success building off wins recently. They haven't won back-to-back games since a six-game winning streak Jan. 12-31.

Wisconsin defeated the Gophers 68-61 in overtime Feb. 9, led by 27 points from Taylor. The Minnesota native went 5 of 9 from 3-point range in his second straight 20-point performance against the Gophers, having scored 22 in a 68-60 home win last season.

Minnesota (17-12, 5-11) has lost five straight overall and is facing its third straight ranked opponent after losing to Michigan State and Indiana last week.

The Gophers didn't put up much of a fight in a 69-50 home loss to the Hoosiers on Sunday. They shot a season-worst 31.0 percent and had 16 turnovers.

The effort was disappointing after their previous four games were each decided by 11 points or fewer, including a 66-61 loss to the first-place Spartans on Wednesday in which they led for much of the second half.

"We've started messing up and stuff like that and blaming each other for our mistakes," guard Chip Armelin said after Sunday's game. "We just need to pull it together and keep each other's spirits up and everything's going to be alright."

Starting point guard Julian Welch played just 11 minutes off the bench against Indiana because of a hip injury, finishing with three points. Andre Hollins started in his place while the team's other point guard, Maverick Ahanmisi, was bothered by a sprained ankle and went scoreless.

Without Welch at full strength, the Gophers struggled to run their offense Sunday and they may not have an easier time at the Kohl Center, where Wisconsin is holding opponents to 48.0 points per game and 35.9 percent shooting.

The Badgers are just 12-4 at home this season after winning 37 of their previous 38 there, but they've won 13 of 14 against the Gophers in Madison.

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