It wasn't exactly the ‘dream team' Wisconsin
coach Bo Ryan
had at his disposal during the 2009 World University Games; more like the ‘rising team' with the number of young players he had to work with.
Ryan saw on Saturday on how senior Talor Battle has developed, as the two-time All-Big Ten selection scored a game-high 22 points as Penn State broke a 12-game losing streak to Wisconsin in University Park.
On Tuesday, Ryan will get his first look this season at the progression of senior forward JaJuan Johnson.
Averaging 20.7 points per game this season, Johnson has taken on the scoring load for the Boilermakers in their last six games, scoring at least 20 points in each game and averaging 24.3 points per contest.
With Robbie Hummel being sidelined this season with a torn ACL, the increased play of Johnson along with senior E'Twaun Moore have equaled the nation's third-highest-scoring duo, checking in at a combined clip of 38.2 points per game.
For comparison, Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor are sixth at 36.6 points per game.
Johnson, the only active Division I player who has put up 1,600 points, 700 rebounds and 200 blocks in his career, has scored in double-digits in 31-straight games and has seven double-doubles. He was the driving force behind Purdue's win Saturday over Minnesota, scoring 24 points to help erase the team's disastrous performance against No.1 Ohio State.
"Anytime you lose a game like that, or a game in general, it sits with you for a while and you want to erase that feeling as quick as possible," Johnson said after. "We let one go against Ohio State, but we didn't want to let this one go."
The Badgers probably feel the same way after blowing a 13-point first-half lead and a nine-point halftime lead in their loss to the Nittany Lions. Leuer (18 points) and Taylor (16, 7 of 13) combined for 34 of UW's 52 points in the loss to Penn State, but relying on Leuer has been nothing new this season for Wisconsin.
Named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top-30 List and on the watch list for the Naismith Trophy, Leuer ranks 3rd in the Big Ten with 19.2 points per game, UW's highest mark since Alando Tucker averaged 19.9 points per game in the 2006-07 season.
Leuer has scored 20 points or more eight times this season and is also currently riding a streak of 27 consecutive games scoring in double figures. Like Johnson, who is shooting .545 from the field and .545 from the arc in the last six games, Leuer has been a big beneficiary of UW's system, which has allowed him to score from inside the post and on the perimeter. This season, 50.7 percent of Leuer's points have been from two, 32.1 percent from 3-point range, and 17.2 percent from the free-throw line.
"They're guys where there coaches have allowed them to different things offensively," Ryan said. "With a Jon Leuer in a different offense be as effective as he is in ours? Few people would tell you that it would be the case. With ours, he can go inside outside, he has the freedom on the threes and JaJuan Johnson has that now. He's been shooting the three, takes it into the post, puts it on the floor a little bit. Both of those guys are in programs where they are allowed to do different things for the betterment of the team."
A White February
Although Madison is expected to get as much as 20 inches of snow by Wednesday morning, Ryan doesn't foresee Tuesday's 6 p.m. tip to be delayed or postponed for any reason.
"If everybody is here, we play," Ryan said. "I don't know of the last time a game was canceled, as far as the Big Ten."
Growing up in Chester, PA on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Ryan pointed out a cancellation of personal interest to him.
"In Philly, St. Joe's and La Salle are about a driver away," Ryan said. "I don't mean a car driver. They had a game postponed in Philly because the one 1952 snowplow was on the fritz and they couldn't get the snow (plowed). I don't think a whole lot is spent in Philly on snow removal equipment."
Stat of the day
The Kohl Center has proven lately that it isn't just a tough building for men's basketball opponents. Between the building's four occupants - UW men's and women's hockey teams and men's and women's basketball teams – the teams are currently on a 25-game home unbeaten streak.
Badgers Fall in the Polls
With the loss to Penn State, Wisconsin dropped to No. 19 in the Associated Press poll and No. 17 in the Coaches Poll.
Even with Robbie Hummel sidelined again, No.11 Purdue keeps right on chugging along thanks to the maturing efforts of senior JaJuan Johnson, who will be one of the many weapons No.19 Wisconsin will have to contain Tuesday night.