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No. 9 Wisconsin displays improved defense in win over Purdue

Jan 25, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

kaminsky Getty Images

In three consecutive losses No. 9 Wisconsin allowed opponents to shoot better than 51% from the field, with their inability to keep guards out of the lane a big reason why they struggled defensively against Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. So entering their game at Purdue, it was clear what Bo Ryan’s team needed to do if they were to end their three-game losing streak.

Wisconsin did a better job of this against the Boilermakers, limiting them to 35% shooting and forcing multiple challenged looks in their 72-58 victory. Purdue made 41.7% of its’ two-point attempts and shot 3-for-17 from beyond the arc, with that performance being quite the departure from what Wisconsin’s three prior opponents were able to do.

Offensively Wisconsin shot just 41% from the field, but given the way in which the Badgers execute on that end of the floor that isn’t a major concern looking forward. All five starters scored in double figures with Frank Kaminsky’s 16 leading the way.

The concern for Wisconsin, which entered the game ranked tenth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense, was whether or not they had the ability to keep opposing players in front of them and out of the lane. Purdue may not be the best litmus test within the Big Ten, but this is a game and a defensive effort the Badgers had to have.

With their next two games, Northwestern and No. 17 Ohio State, in Madison the Badgers may be well-positioned to go on a run and get back into the Big Ten race. Whether or not they defend will determine their fate.