With Wisconsin continuing its trademark stingy defense and its shortest starter providing a surprising spark on the glass, the Badgers appear to be hitting their stride.
No. 17 Wisconsin looks to keep it going Tuesday night against a Nebraska team that has just one win in its last 39 road games against ranked opponents.
The Badgers (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten) have finished in the top 10 in scoring defense in each of the last six seasons, and 2012-13 is shaping up to be more of the same as they rank ninth at 55.7 points per game.
Wisconsin has also claimed a more decisive edge on the glass, with a plus-7.2 rebounding margin over its last six games while winning five times. It claimed a 47-22 rebounding advantage in a 69-41 win at Northwestern on Wednesday and tallied 16 second-chance points on 15 offensive boards.
"We make teams defend us for a long time," said Jared Berggren, who averages a team-best 11.9 points. "Make them play hard defense and if we can get on the offensive glass and then make them do it again, it can be discouraging to teams."
Berggren had a game-high 13 points in a 47-41 win at Nebraska on Jan. 6, Wisconsin's fourth straight victory in the series.
Despite standing 6-foot-1, junior Ben Brust is the team's third-leading rebounder with 5.6 per game, which ties him with Penn State's D.J. Newbill for second among Big Ten guards.
Brust recorded 12 points and eight rebounds against Northwestern despite missing the previous two days of practice because of a sore knee. He's averaging 15.0 points while going 18 of 46 (39.1 percent) from 3-point range over the last six games.
"He's a lot tougher than he looks," said Bo Ryan, whose teams are 66-2 at the Kohl Center against unranked Big Ten teams since 2001-02. "Physically he's bought into everything we're trying to do and have done over the years."
Nebraska's only win on the road against a ranked squad since 1999-2000 came over No. 22 Texas A&M on Feb. 23, 2008. It is coming off an encouraging 64-60 victory over Iowa on Saturday, rallying from 19 down in the first half.
The Cornhuskers (13-14, 4-10) shot 34.4 percent in the first half before getting hot in the second, when they knocked down 62.5 percent of their shots.
It was another big game for Dylan Talley, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left. Sixteen of his 18 points came in the second half and he's averaging 19.5 points over the last four contests while shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
Nebraska will have less time to prepare than initially expected, as the Iowa game was originally scheduled for last Thursday but was postponed due to a blizzard.
"(Wisconsin is) a buzz saw," said coach Tim Miles, who brought North Dakota State to the Kohl Center for a 62-55 win on Jan. 21, 2006. "(The win) gives the guys confidence but it is not where the goal is, we've got to keep winning to reach our goal. That is what we need to stay involved with, the process."
The Associated Press News Service
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