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Minnesota seeking season sweep of No. 19 Wisconsin

Wisconsin has followed up a poor stretch with five straight wins and might be playing its best basketball of the season.

However, the Badgers' next opponent is an annoying reminder of when they dropped four of five games and didn't look quite so fearsome.

No. 19 Wisconsin (16-6, 8-3 Big Ten) looks to avenge last month's disappointing 59-52 home loss when it visits Minnesota (16-6, 6-5) on Wednesday night.

That scoring output against the Golden Gophers on Jan. 3 remains Wisconsin's second lowest of the campaign, while the poor stretch -- which included conference losses to Purdue and Maryland -- left the Badgers in a hole in the Big Ten race.

Things are different now with a stretch of victories that includes Friday's 69-61 win over Maryland. Suddenly, the Badgers are one game behind the three teams tied at the top -- Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.

"You're human," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said in a press conference, "so you're always looking at standings and understanding where teams are."

That is why the Minnesota loss still burns. The Badgers had defeated the Golden Gophers eight straight times prior to the stumble.

"That's a hole that we dug ourselves," sophomore guard Brad Davison said. "Those are games that we should have won, possessions that we'd love to have back. But at the same time you can't control it. All of our goals are still in front of us. We're still in contention."

Badgers senior forward Ethan Happ is a leading candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. He is averaging 18.5 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Happ had 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Terrapins for his 14th double-double of the season and 45th of his career. Wisconsin committed a season-low four turnovers in the victory.

Minnesota is a stellar 11-1 at home as it looks to complete the season sweep.

The Gophers got 21 points from junior guard Amir Coffey when they beat the Badgers in Madison.

Coffey leads Minnesota with a 16.2 scoring average while senior forward Jordan Murphy is enjoying a solid campaign with averages of 14.9 points and 11.8 rebounds. Murphy has recorded five straight double-doubles and has 15 for the season.

The Golden Gophers are coming off a 73-63 road loss to Purdue on Sunday. Coffey scored 22 points but Minnesota was just 2 of 16 from 3-point range as the Boilermakers controlled the second half.

"We got into a real bad offensive drought and couldn't hit a shot," Murphy told reporters afterward. "We just have to avoid that and keep playing our game."

That type of inconsistency has been a troublesome trend for the Golden Gophers.

"We haven't put together a full 40 minutes yet," senior guard Dupree McBrayer said afterward. "We're all trying to find the balance. It's going to come. We're not worried. We're not panicking.

"We're all going to have good games at one time -- and it's going to be scary when we do."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 5, 2019

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