Badgers try to end losing skid

first_imgSophomore forward Jon Leuer broke out of his slump in UW\’s loss to Northwestern.[/media-credit]When the Badgers play Illinois tonight at the Kohl Center, it will have been almost a month since they won a game.Their last win occurred at home on Jan. 7 against Northwestern, but since then, the Badgers dropped six straight games and their last five have been lost by an average of just 3.8 points.“We have had mistakes at both ends of the court,” Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close said. “It hasn’t been anything glaring, but it’s enough to cost you a low possession, tight game. That’s what we’ve been in the last six games. They’ve been tight.”Against Northwestern last Saturday, it was the same story. With a lead midway through the second half, the Badgers were unable to hold on and eventually lost to the Wildcats 66-63.“Once again, it came down to us finishing at the end,” senior forward Marcus Landry said. “You know, maybe not scoring on a few possessions or turning the ball over. So, our main focus is we don’t want to change too much, but we want to stick to the game plan the coaches have for us and go out there and be focused.”The common thread between all of their losses has been losing a lead down the stretch, but almost coming back in the waning seconds of the game. Against Illinois in Champaign, Wisconsin was able to battle back despite being down as much as 10 points with 4:13 left to go in the game. Against the Wildcats, the Badgers only had a one-point deficit with 10 seconds left.“I thought we handled it pretty well at the end of the game,” Close said of the Northwestern game. “We got pretty good looks and we kept them having to make free throws, and that’s what you want to do and hope they miss one.”This weekend against Illinois, Wisconsin will be looking to end its losing streak at home. The Illini are coming off a 62-54 win against Iowa at Assembly Hall. The last time the Badgers played the Fighting Illini, they shot just 35.6 percent from the field while the Illini shot 50 percent.“I think we played pretty well against them,” Close said. “I think we didn’t shoot the ball well. We had some good looks, but we didn’t make them. I don’t know if there is much to change except maybe knock down some shots.”The key for the Badgers to get off their losing streak is to have all of their players firing on all cylinders. During their six straight losses, the starting five have failed to find consistency each game while their bench has failed to produce as it had in the past.Against Northwestern, Keaton Nankivil and Joe Krabbenhoft combined for just five points while Jason Bohannon and Jon Leuer both got off their cold streaks, scoring 11 and 12 points, respectively.“I just told myself to slow down a little bit,” Leuer said. “I just wanted to do anything I could to help the team. I felt like I was kind of letting my teammates down, and I wanted to do anything I could to help the team succeed.”“We need everybody,” Close added. “That has been one of the problems is it seems like in every game when have had one or tow guys not play as well as they are capable and our margin of error is not that great where we can do that.”With a 3-6 record in the Big Ten, the Badgers are just trying to get wins, regardless of post-season implications. If the Badgers do win tonight, their NCAA Tournament hopes could still be alive in a very competitive conference. If they lose their seventh straight, however, the post-season looks bleak for Wisconsin.“We are just trying to win Thursday, literally,” Close said. “The other stuff, there is no sense in worrying about because you don’t win Thursday, those are going to immediately change.”last_img

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