February 09, 2015

Wisconsin appears to be cruising toward a Big Ten title, experiencing no drop-off since losing its starting point guard.

Nebraska's offense continues to struggle through a disappointing season, though the Cornhuskers showed the ability to upset the Badgers last season.

No. 5 Wisconsin looks to avoid a second straight letdown in Lincoln on Tuesday night.

The Badgers (21-2, 9-1) have matched their best 23-game start in school history from 2006-07 and own a 2 1/2-game lead over four teams for first place. Their lone conference loss was a 67-62 defeat at Rutgers on Jan. 11 without leading scorer and rebounder Frank Kaminsky.

Five of Wisconsin's six wins since have come by 11-plus points, and the Badgers dispatched Northwestern 65-50 on Saturday when Bronson Koenig scored a career-high 16 points.

He has averaged 12.6 points and is 18 of 34 from 3-point range while starting the last seven games at point guard in place of the injured Traevon Jackson. Koenig previously averaged 4.4 points and made 12 3-pointers in 16 games.

"Confidence is everything, especially with shooting," Koenig said. "The past couple weeks ... my confidence has grown quite a bit and obviously playing a lot more minutes, I get more opportunities."

The Badgers, the only ranked opponent Nebraska has played, defeated the Cornhuskers 70-55 in Madison on Jan. 15. Kaminsky's 22 points led five Wisconsin players in double figures and the Badgers were 11 of 21 from beyond the arc.

Nebraska (13-10, 5-6) was ranked 21st before the season and expected to compete for the league title but disappointed in non-conference play with losses to Incarnate Word and Hawaii. The Cornhuskers have lost three of four, with each defeat on the road, but severely jeopardizing their chances of reaching a second straight NCAA tournament.

They've been held to fewer than 45 points in each of the last three losses and shot a season-low 29.4 percent in Saturday's 56-43 defeat at Penn State, going 2 of 20 from long distance.

"We haven't been a very good outside-shooting team; our 3-point percentage is really low this season," coach Tim Miles said.

Leading scorers Terran Petteway (18.7 ppg) and Shavon Shields (15.9) were a combined 8 for 25, and Shields is 16 for 45 over his last four games.

While the Cornhuskers are averaging 48.6 points and shooting 18.9 percent from 3-point range while going 0-5 on the road in conference play, they're scoring 65.0 per game and shooting 35.5 percent from deep in going 5-1 at home. They beat Wisconsin 77-68 at home on March 9 for their lone win in six meetings since joining the Big Ten.

The Badgers are a Big Ten-best 14-4 on the road against all opponents since last season began, however.

"Coach Ryan prepares us for road games and when you have experienced guys who have played in big games and big environments before, you're not shocked by anything," senior guard Josh Gasser told the school's official website.

Petteway and Shields each had 26 points in last season's victory but Nebraska struggled to find balance in last month's loss. Petteway scored 27 on 11-of-20 shooting but his teammates were 10 of 30 with none scoring more than eight points.

Nebraska has dropped 10 of 11 against top-five opponents, last winning 70-67 against then-No. 3 Texas on Feb. 19, 2011.

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