Badgers prepare for Battle, Penn St.
UW guard Jason Bohannon can reach 1,000 career points by scoring at least 12 against PSU.[/media-credit]Evan Turner. Manny Harris. Talor Battle.Those are the star guards on the schedule in the Badgers’ current stretch over the last two games — at Ohio State and versus Michigan — as well as the next matchup with Penn State at home.As a result, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for Wisconsin’s guards to defend a member of the all-Big Ten team on a nightly basis.“Any time you get guys like that you’re playing game-in, game-out, it’s going to be a tough task,” senior guard Jason Bohannon said. “But we just stick to our same rules and see what happens.”After a rough, grind-it-out battle with Michigan — in which Harris scored just 11 points — in Wednesday night’s victory, several members of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team got some much needed rest Thursday.Rather than participate in a full practice session, six Badgers finished up early following a shooting session while the rest of the squad went five-on-five. According to junior forward Keaton Nankivil, the time off was not out of the ordinary for head coach Bo Ryan’s team.“Coach usually likes to have two days of preparation for the next team,” Nankivil said. “But with the extra day and a tough, hard fought game [Wednesday] night, it’s good to give guys a chance to get some shots up but also get off their feet a bit too.”That extra day comes as a result of a Sunday game after a Wednesday game, as Wisconsin is set to host Penn State at the Kohl Center this weekend.Considering the recently finished stretch of road games for UW (four of six games away from Madison to open Big Ten play), a second straight home game is a welcome sight for Ryan and the Badgers.Another welcome sight for Wisconsin will be the Nittany Lions, who remain winless in Big Ten play, despite boasting one of the conference’s top guards in Battle, a junior.Nearly three weeks ago, the Badgers cruised past PSU on the road en route to a 63-46 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center.The ease with which UW defeated Penn State had a lot to do with senior guard Trevon Hughes’ defense on Battle, who scored just 15 points — four below his season average.“I don’t think Talor Battle’s ever really done too much against Pop [Hughes],” sophomore guard Jordan Taylor said. “Pop’s always done a great job against him, so I hope Sunday is no different.”Taylor’s assessment of the Battle-Hughes matchup is reflected in the past box scores.In fact, Battle’s 15 points and Hughes’ 18 points in the teams’ most recent matchup was a high for both guards in the series. Through five games against each other, Battle and Hughes have nearly cancelled each other out, averaging 9.6 and 9.4 points per game, respectively.When you remember Battle is the Nittany Lions’ only reliable scoring threat and the only one averaging double digit points per game, Hughes’ defensive effort on Battle is that much more impressive.Hughes’ fellow senior guard Jason Bohannon hopes the Badgers will be able to control Battle — who also is the team’s leading rebounder — once again to keep the Nittany Lions from securing their first conference victory.“Any time you have a player like Talor Battle with his abilities, that’s a great asset to the team,” Bohannon said. “They just haven’t been able to finish it out, and we don’t want to let them get started against us.”Despite a 0-6 record in conference play, Penn State has been competitive in most of its Big Ten games. The Nittany Lions’ six losses have been by an average of just over five points per game.PSU’s closest losses came in the past week at Illinois by one and at Iowa by three.Because of the Nittany Lions’ improved play over the past few games, junior forward Keaton Nankivil and the rest of the Badgers are careful not to overlook Penn State, even with a rematch against Purdue looming next week.“With the Big Ten this year, you never know, especially when you look at Ohio State and the way it was two completely different games,” Nankivil said. “Obviously, it’s a little deeper in the season, so they’re going to have a little more experience. We’ll have a little more experience too, so we’ll see what that brings for us.”With the next two games coming against Purdue and Michigan State after the matchup with Penn State, Wisconsin will need to take care of business against the Nittany Lions. A win over PSU would also help the Badgers solidify their second place spot in the Big Ten.Still, the biggest question that remains for Wisconsin is the players from which their offensive output will come.In the past four games, the Badgers have seen Taylor and Bohannon step up their scoring, while sophomore guard Rob Wilson and redshirt freshman forward Ryan Evans have also provided significant contributions.“Whether its Rob [Wilson] or Mike Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren or Ryan Evans, whoever it is — we’ve got to find a way to get some production off the bench,” Bohannon said. “[Wednesday] night was a big step for us in that sense.”