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No. 21 Wisconsin tries to carry momentum into Big Ten vs. Iowa

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After a successful stretch against nonconference opponents, No. 21 Wisconsin returns to the Big Ten grind when it hosts Iowa on Tuesday night in Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin (9-3, 1-0 Big Ten) has only played twice since a 98-73 loss at then-No. 1 Arizona on Dec. 9, closing out the nonconference portion of its schedule with home wins over Jacksonville State and Chicago State.

Iowa (8-5, 0-2 Big Ten) is coming off a 103-74 win at home over Northern Illinois on Friday.

Wisconsin point guard Chucky Hepburn suffered a lower-body injury early in the second half against Chicago State on Dec. 22 and did not return.

His status has not been announced, although after the game coach Greg Gard said, “He’s going to be sore, but he says he’ll be fine … he’ll have some time to rest here and get him back.”

AJ Storr, a sophomore transfer from St. John’s, averages a team-high 15.0 points per game and had a career-high 29 in the 80-53 win over Chicago State. Steven Crowl adds 12.8 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds, and Tyler Wahl adds 10.8 points and 5.8 boards to help the Badgers to a plus-5.7 edge on the glass.

Storr hit 11 of 18 shots against Chicago State, including 3 of 5 beyond the arc. He has scored in double figures in 10 of Wisconsin’s 12 games.

“For the most part, not a lot of bad shots,” Gard said. “I think he’s gotten better. As I’ve said many times, he might be our most improved player in the last two months, specifically defensively. He’s got areas to obviously get better at, but he’s come a long way in a short time.”

Wisconsin, which has won eight of its last nine games, averages 74.2 points per game while allowing 64.9. Aside from Arizona, the Badgers have held their other six previous opponents to 64 points or fewer.

The Badgers also lead the Big Ten in free-throw percentage at 76.6 percent.

Iowa closed out the nonconference portion of its schedule with three consecutive victories after a three-game skid with losses to then-No. 4 Purdue, Iowa State and Michigan.

The Hawkeyes’ two other losses were at Creighton, then ranked eighth, and Oklahoma.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he thinks the rugged early season schedule will help in conference play.

“I certainly hope so,” McCaffery said after the Northern Illinois game. “I mean, we had a difficult nonconference schedule when you think about a road game in the Big East Challenge; a road game with Iowa State; Oklahoma and Seton Hall in San Diego; two really tough league opponents.”

The Hawkeyes average a Big Ten-best 87.8 points, which also ranks ninth in the nation, while giving up 77.2, next to last in the conference.

Iowa has four players scoring in double figures, led by Ben Krikke at 17.0 points per game. Payton Sandfort averages 13.8, Tony Perkins 13.2 and Patrick McCaffrey 10.1.

Sandfort averages a team-best 6.9 rebounds, with Krikke adding 5.6 boards.

Wisconsin has won the last three meetings with Iowa after the Hawkeyes had won the previous four.

McCaffery is three wins from becoming the winningest coach in Iowa basketball history. Tom Davis has 271 victories as Iowa’s head coach.

–Field Level Media

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