Wisconsin-Minnesota Preview

The Associated Press

For a change, Wisconsin is playing better on the road in the Big Ten than it is at home.

The No. 21 Badgers could be in for a stiff test as they try to win four straight on the road for the first time in four years while looking to avoid a third consecutive loss at Minnesota on Thursday night.

Normally one of the toughest teams in the country to beat at home, Wisconsin (18-6, 7-4) has lost four times at the Kohl Center - matching its total from the previous three seasons combined. Three of those defeats have come in six Big Ten games there, including 58-52 to third-ranked Ohio State on Saturday.

The Badgers, however, are 4-1 away from home in the conference to match their 2010-11 Big Ten road win total. Wisconsin's 52-46 victory at Penn State on Jan. 31 has it in position to win four straight on the road for the first time since a six-game run Feb. 3-March 8, 2008.

The Badgers' 8-1 league road record that season is the only time since 1996-97 that they've won more than five games away from home in the Big Ten.

"Our guys take a lot of pride in being a good team, home or away," coach Bo Ryan said. "And some years maybe you've got some weaknesses, maybe you're not quite as consistent in some areas, things like that. As it's been said many times, it's hard to be (playing) consistently at the highest competitive level."

Though the Badgers are giving up 54.0 points on 36.9 percent on the road in the Big Ten, Ryan knows his team needs to play better at Minnesota than it has in the past. Wisconsin has shot 31.7 percent and failed to score more than 52 points while losing its last two trips to Williams Arena. The Badgers shot 30.5 percent during a 68-52 loss in their last game at Minnesota on Feb. 18, 2010.

The Gophers (17-7, 5-6) have split their four league games at "The Barn," but those victories over Northwestern and Illinois came in the last two there.

"They have a good team, and they are playing well," said star Wisconsin guard and suburban Minneapolis native Jordan Taylor, averaging team bests of 14.0 points and 4.4 assists.

The Badgers were playing well until the Buckeyes snapped their six-game winning streak. Wisconsin managed to keep things close despite shooting 40.0 percent, including 5 for 27 from 3-point range.

"It's obviously a big disappointment," Taylor said. "It's still not over, there's no time to mope or feel sorry for yourself."

Taylor had 22 points and seven assists during Wisconsin's 68-60 home victory over the Gophers in the teams' last meeting Dec. 28, 2010, but he's totaled five points on 1-of-10 shooting in two games at Minnesota.

The Gophers, who have won five of seven following a four-game skid to open league play, won 69-61 at Nebraska on Sunday. Chip Armelin scored 15 points off the bench as Minnesota shot 54.0 percent and outscored the Cornhuskers 37-28 in the second half.

Facing its first ranked opponent at home this season, Minnesota is 1-2 against Top 25 teams in 2011-12.

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