The Wisconsin Men's Basketball Team has seen themselves take quite a rise and continue the positive momentum they started off the season with. The play from AJ Storr has brought the Badger offense to another level and adds an explosiveness they have not seen in recent years.
Before this week's slate of games against Penn State and Indiana, the Badgers saw themselves rise to the number eleven team in the country after starting Big Ten play HOT with wins against Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Northwestern. A big key to those wins? Not only is it the play from AJ Storr, who is averaging 15.3 points per game on the season, but there is also the recent hot streak of shooting for Junior Guard Max Klesmit. Klesmit started his hot streak against Iowa when he scored 15 points on January 2nd. While he came down to earth in the next game against Nebraska with three points, he went right back up and hasn't looked back since, scoring in double figures the next four games for the Badgers and a season-high for the Junior that came this week, which will be mentioned more later on. The Badgers have always been known as a defensive team, but this year, they also have the offensive spark.
Coming into this week at number eleven in the country, the Badgers finally got humbled in Big Ten Play, in which they were perfect record-wise until Tuesday Night. Penn State would defend their home court in an excellent game for the Penn State trio of guards. Kanye Clary would have 27, Adrian Baldwin Jr. would have 20, and Nick Kern would have 15 for the Nittany Lions as they spoiled the Badgers' perfect conference record and knocked off a top fifteen team in the nation to defend their home court. While the offense played well for the Badgers, scoring eighty-three points, the defense took a step down, giving up eighty-seven points to a below .500 Penn State team. On the offensive side, AJ Storr would be the person who kept the Badgers in the game the whole first half and ended up with a team-high 23 points. Other noteworthy performances in the loss for the Badgers would include Steven Crowl, who recorded another double-double performance with 17 points and 11 rebounds, a spark plug off the bench; John Blackwell would have himself another nice night with 14 points, and Klesmit would cap off the scoring as far as double figures went with 10 points. The Badgers still led the Big Ten after the loss but would need a bounce-back game against Indiana later in the week.
As I mentioned, having a bounce-back game was vital for the Badgers, and they would go on to do precisely that as Indiana came to the Kohl Center. While Malik Reneau would have 28 points for the Hoosiers, no duo partner showed up for him as the Hoosiers put up seventy-nine points and gave up ninety-one to the Badgers. As for the Badger offense, Max Klesmit continued his run, leading the team in scoring with 26 points. Klesmit's breakout has sparked the Badger offense that much further. Regarding other scoring, AJ Storr would be the duo to Klesmit, scoring 15 points, and the support to those two would be Steven Crowl and John Blackwell, who would chip in their share with 12 points each.
The Badgers would split this week in Big Ten Play at a record of 1-1 but still sit atop the Big Ten Conference at 14-4 (6-1 in Conference). The offense will look to keep on their streak this upcoming week as the Badgers will travel to Minnesota for a rivalry game against the Golden Gophers and then host Michigan State later in the week for their second and final game of the season against the Spartans, who they beat on the road earlier in the year, 70-57.
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