The men's basketball team returns to action as they host Ohio State at the Kohl Center tonight. This game will be the Badger's first test since downing the Iowa Hawkeyes eight days ago.
\It's good to have a break especially because we had a tough stretch,"" forward Mark Vershaw said. ""We lost three in a row on the road and then we came back and got a big win at home. I think we needed time to just rest and recuperate because we have to put together a big run with this homestand.""
This game marks the second of four consecutive home games for the Badgers, with upcoming games against Penn State and Butler.
""You're supposed to take care of business everywhere you go,"" forward Maurice Linton said. ""But it's extremely important [to win] on your home court.""
Wisconsin is undefeated at the Kohl Center this season and will try to increase its home-winning streak to eight games with a win over the Buckeyes.
""If you want to be successful in this league, that's what you have to do [win at home],"" Vershaw said.
The Buckeyes have won the last five games against the Badgers and have yet to lose in the Kohl Center, winning all three of their games in the four-year-old facility.
""The last three years we won at Wisconsin, which is considered a very difficult place to play,"" Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien said. ""Winning at home is a combination of the type of team you have and atmosphere.""
The Buckeyes are led by senior center and defensive specialist Ken Johnson. He is second nationally in blocked shots with 76 and this season has moved into first place on Ohio State's all-time list. However, Johnson's contributions do not always show up on the stat sheet, as he is constantly altering shots and forcing opposing guards out of the paint.
""With shot block presence like that, you have to attack to show that you're not intimidated and pray that he gets into foul trouble,"" Linton said. ""But definitely in the back of your mind you know he's there and what he's capable of doing.""
The Buckeyes have managed to start the season 12-6, despite losing All-American point guard Scoonie Penn to graduation and All-Big Ten swingman Michael Redd early to the NBA.
""They have a great offense, they play aggressive and they play with confidence,"" Linton said. ""Even though their backcourt is young, they play wise beyond their years.""
It is guard play that makes the Buckeyes a dangerous team to face in the Big Ten season. Brian Brown leads OSU in both points and assists and native Yugoslavian Boban Savovic is connecting on 43 percent of his three point attempts.
""They've won a lot of games so far and they've surprised a lot of people,"" Vershaw said. ""Its going to be a tough test. There are no easy ones in the big ten.\