JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoEVANSTON, Ill. ? This wasn’t supposed to happen.Most teams that lose half of their scoring from theprevious year, including a first-team All-American, the program’s leadingscorer and the highest scoring duo in school history, generally don’t come backthe following year and win conference championships outright.But as they proved again Saturday, the Wisconsinbasketball team is not most teams.In earning an undisputed Big Ten title with a 65-52win over Northwestern, Wisconsin turned in a performance that typified how ateam without much big-name star power or a specified go-to player was able towin the Big Ten.?We didn?t get away from what we?ve done,? seniorforward Brian Butch said. ?When we do get away from what we do, we?re not thatgood.?They did it with balanced scoring.Without All-American Alando Tucker and classmateKammron Taylor to lean on, it was an egalitarian offense for UW for most of theseason. The Badgers ? a team that had a five-game stretch earlier in the BigTen season with a different player scoring 20 points or more in each game ? got20 points from Butch, who in the final regular season conference game of hiscareer, also matched a career high with 14 rebounds.But just like it has all season, Wisconsin didn?tjust get scoring from only one place. Two other Badgers besides Butch (JasonBohannon, 15 points; Marcus Landry, 12) broke the 10-point barrier, and afourth player, Joe Krabbenhoft, ended only one point shy of double digits.?That?s the unique thing about this team,? Butchsaid. ?We just don?t have ? and I kind of sound like a broken record when I sayit ? but we just don?t have one guy that you can key on. ? I think thatexplains how we?ve been all year.?They did it with defense.The Badgers entered Saturday?s game allowing thefewest points per game in the nation, just 54.4 every contest, a defense thatgives up nearly four points less than the second-best team in the Big Ten andranks third nationally in defensive efficiency, according to statistician KenPomeroy.That stifling defense was on display again, as theWildcats scored just 52 points on 59 possessions, an average of just over 0.87points every time down the floor.It was that sort of defense that helped alleviatesome of the burden of losing Tucker and Taylor?s scoring and became theidentity of this Badgers team.“On thedefensive end, they were willing to make that commitment to cover, help, pinchand sink,” Ryan said. “This group, defensively, gave themselves anopportunity to be champions in the Big Ten.”They did it withrebounding.Coming into thegame, the Badgers were one of the better rebounding teams in the Big Ten, outreboundingtheir opponents by an average of just over five per game.The same grittytoughness that shaped the defense also came through in the rebounding game, asthe Badgers pulled down as many offensive rebounds (14) as the Wildcats diddefensively.Four Badgersgrabbed five misses or more, as Wisconsin nearly doubled Northwestern?srebounds, winning the battle 38-21.?Their guys arebig, strong guys and we weren?t able to keep them off of the backboard,?Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. ?They were getting very goodposition, and they just sort of overpowered us, I thought.?A lot of that wasdue to Butch. The forward dominated the glass and the undersized Northwesternfront line for his 14 rebounds, but he missed a potential career-high for thatstatistic as several loose balls bounced away from him late in the second half.Balanced scoring,defense and rebounding. That was the successful formula for Wisconsin Saturday,and that was the concoction that won the Big Ten championship, even without asuperstar.?Last year I was soconfident, I would say maybe 90 percent in Alando Tucker and 10 percent in us,?Krabbenhoft said. ?This team is a complete team. I?m just glad to be a part ofit.?
Senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware rushed for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon State. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)With the weather cooling down on campus ahead of homecoming weekend, the Trojan football team took to the field on Wednesday to prepare for Saturday’s game against Cal. The Bears sit at second-to-last in the Pac-12 North, but the team has fared well against highly ranked opponents in the last two weeks, squeaking out a 12-10 win over Washington and losing by six to Washington State. Head coach Clay Helton said that the team has been playing “high-level football,” making the homecoming game as important of a matchup as any other for the team, which must win out to have a shot at the Pac-12 championship game.After a decent outing against Oregon State, freshman quarterback JT Daniels will need to be prepared to return to form against Cal. The Bears bring a defensive scheme that Helton described as “a nightmare” for quarterbacks, and the freshman is spending all week preparing to adapt to it. Fresh off his rest week after suffering a concussion, Daniels threw for 177 yards and one touchdown last week. He didn’t throw a single interception, but his accuracy was barely above 50 percent, a weakness that could be exploited by the disruptive Cal defense. Another major concern in the passing game is the continued absence of wide receiver Michael Pittman. The junior leads the team in receiving yards, but has been questionable in practice throughout the week. Helton said that he is still uncertain for Saturday. As a result, freshman wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown will start, joining the starting receiver corps of redshirt sophomores Tyler Vaughns and Velus Jones Jr.The key for the Trojans’ attack, Helton said, will therefore have to rest on a balance between Daniels and the running attack, led by senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware. Helton compared Ware to Justin Davis, a former USC running back now playing with the Rams who was known for his grit and work ethic. Helton added that Ware’s strength comes from his commitment to the everyday grind and on a team in desperate need of a culture shock, that level of intensity in weekly practices has been vital for providing energy on Saturdays on the field. Last week against Oregon State, he ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns. According to Helton that performance might be repeated against the Cal.Injury updateRedshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Fink continues to nurse three broken ribs, and redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Holden Thomas is also injured, leaving the team with only one backup at the position. Sophomore running back Stephen Carr is still recovering from a high ankle sprain and most likely will not see the field on Saturday, along with Pittman. The team will also lose wide receiver Randal Grimes for the year; the sophomore will redshirt to focus on academics after sitting out since the Arizona State game.Both lines are continuing to struggle with health issues, with redshirt junior Clayton Bradley out on the offensive side and junior Caleb Tremblay continuing to sit out on the defensive side. Senior cornerback Iman Marshall is also doubtful with several leg injuries following the Oregon State game, but he was present at practice, jogging around the field in sweats and his practice jersey.However, Wednesday saw the return of linebackers junior Connor Murphy and redshirt junior John Houston, and freshman cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart. Houston and Taylor-Stuart were both heavily taped up after sitting out for weeks with injuries, but their return is promising for the USC defense as it looks to continue to reload in the coming weeks.