No. 14 Wisconsin looks to bounce back at Maryland
No. 14 Wisconsin prides itself on being one of college basketball's best defensive teams.
The Badgers are looking to re-establish that identity when they play four of their next five games on the road, beginning with a Big Ten contest against Maryland on Wednesday night in College Park, Md.
They were disappointed with their defensive performance in a 74-62 loss to then-No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes shot 50.9 percent on Wisconsin's home court and never trailed.
"We never set the tone defensively for how we have been and who we need to be," Badgers coach Greg Gard said.
Wisconsin (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten) is holding opponents to 40.5 percent shooting this season. The Badgers were coming off a pair of strong defensive efforts, when they held Rutgers to 54 points and Northwestern to 52. In contrast, the Buckeyes scored 42 second-half points while shooting 56 percent in the final 20 minutes.
"If we're going to win these games, we've got to lock them up defensively," forward Nate Reuvers said. "They just got too comfortable and that's kind of how they got going."
The Badgers often play low-possession games and rely on their 3-pointers to overcome the lack of a dominant scorer. They are shooting 37.9 percent from beyond the arc, but they knocked down just 7 of 28 3-pointers on Saturday.
"I thought the vast majority of the threes we had were really good looks -- we had some wide-open ones -- other than two or three that come to mind initially," Gard said. "I'll look through and go back through those.
"... We'll look and see if we could go in the paint more, which I know we can. But with how this team shoots it and how this team is built, we have to take advantage of those threes when the good ones present themselves and we had plenty of good ones early."
It would help if leading scorer D'Mitrik Trice heated up again. Trice, who is averaging 14.6 points for the season, has averaged 12.3 points over the last three games. In his five prior Big Ten outings, he reached the 20-point mark four times.
The Badgers are trying to avenge one of their three Big Ten losses this season. The Terrapins pulled off a 70-64 upset in their first meeting on Dec. 28 despite a 25-point outing from Trice.
Maryland's Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins combined for 32 points in the game.
The Terrapins (9-7, 3-6) haven't played a Big Ten home game since Jan. 7, when they lost by 22 to Iowa.
They are coming off their best defensive performance of the season. Maryland held Minnesota to 30.4 percent shooting in a 63-49 upset in Minneapolis on Saturday. Ayala led the way with 21 points.
"I wish we could bottle it all up and play that way every time, but we haven't been able to do that yet," Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said.
A small-ball lineup helped them shut down the Golden Gophers. Maryland often used a four-guard look.
"We started the small lineup," Turgeon said. "I started five veteran guys that were here last year, just looking for a spark, looking for something to get us going."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 25, 2021