BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Slipping from the top of the Big Ten rankings to the middle of the pack happened quickly for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
The Badgers were 3-0 in conference play less than two weeks ago. The challenge now is not to let a three-game slip-up turn into something bigger that can wreak havoc on the season.
UW No. 18 was poised to look forward after Saturday’s 63-45 loss in Indiana, their biggest loss of the season.
“Of course we have to learn from this and grow from it. But we have to keep going,” said forward Steven Crowl, who was held at five points, one more than his low of the season. “We have a great team on Tuesday. So we have to prepare for them and hopefully be ready and hopefully win.”
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This is Penn State, who comfortably defeated the Hoosiers on Wednesday, who responded with a comfortable win over the Badgers.
The Nittany Lions are also 3-3 in the Big Ten after beating Indiana 85-66. Tuesday’s game at the Kohl Center will be the first in six days, a mid-season break that the Badgers may wish for as they try to get injured forward Tyler Wahl healthy enough to play.
Wahl has missed the last three games – all losses – after injuring his right ankle against Minnesota on Jan. 3. There was no indication of when he can return but he has shed the hiking boot he was wearing after the injury and Gard said there has been progress.
The junior’s return can’t come soon enough for the Badgers after the Hoosiers deeply dominated on Saturday.
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“He’s another post presence that has a knock-on effect on everything else,” Gard said, “so you, along with Steve, need to be aware of him right now. And we need to shoot it better. Tyler will help in a way, but we’ve got to keep getting better.”
UW was 18 of 56 shooters (32.1%) in the loss to Indiana. The Nittany Lions recorded 18 3-pointers in their win over the Hoosiers. Big Ten basketball comes in a variety of forms.
The badgers need to be nimble when adapting, Gard said.
“We talked about moving on,” he said. “And you have to. You have to have a short memory of whether things are going well or not so well. Because within about 72 hours we are playing against a team that is playing very differently than today.”
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Gard joked that the Badgers won’t see Penn State attempt just eight 3-pointers like the Hoosiers did. Maybe in the first four minutes.
“We’ve got to watch the tape, learn fast (Sunday) when we get together, and then quickly turn the page and get ready for Penn State in a short amount of time,” Gard said.
Photos: Wisconsin men’s basketball loses in Indiana in freezing cold