WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Badgers' winning streak now at eight after beating Purdue
MADISON -- The Wisconsin men's basketball team has won eight straight Big Ten Conference games for the first time since 1941. That's after the Badgers won their home season finale last night, 76-to-70 over Purdue. Ninth-ranked Wisconsin never trailed, after jumping out to a 21-to-8 lead. They led by 11 at the break. The Boilermakers had a 13-to-2 run to get within seven midway through the second half. A three-pointer by Sam Dekker and four free throws pushed the margin to 12, and Purdue never got within six after that. Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin with 22 points and five rebounds. The Badgers made 23-of-31 from the free-throw line, while Purdue only hit 9-of-14 from the stripe. Wisconsin is now 12-and-5 in the Big Ten, and 25-and-5 overall. The Badgers are now second in the conference, with a half-game lead over Michigan State. Ronnie Johnson had 15 points and six assists for Purdue, which fell to 5-and-12 in the conference and 15-and-15 overall. The Badgers will close out their regular season on Sunday at Nebraska.
For the 12th time this season, the Milwaukee Bucks have failed to win back-to-back games after falling at home to Sacramento, 116-to-102. Milwaukee is coming up on the first anniversary of its last two-game winning streak, which happened on March 17th-through-19th of 2013. The Kings used a 15-to-2 run in the second quarter to jump out in front by 13. Sacramento's lead was 21 going into the fourth quarter, and the Bucks never got closer than 14 after that. Frustration showed in the final period when Ersan Ilyasova punched Reggie Evans in the stomach and pushed him down. Kings guard Isaiah Thomas and forward Khris Middleton got into it a few minutes. Thomas was ejected, but he already did his damage by scoring 25 points. DeMarcus Cousins added 21 points and 10 rebounds, as the Kings won their second straight. Brandon Knight had 25 points, six assists, and five boards as the Bucks dropped their third game in their last four, and fell to 12-and-48 on the season. They'll play at New Orleans tomorrow night.
Ryan Braun belted his second homer of the spring, as the Milwaukee Brewers topped Oakland 7-to-2 in an exhibition game at Phoenix. Braun also singled and walked twice, as he raised his Cactus League batting average to .875 with seven hits in eight at-bats. He has a .900 on-base percentage. Mitch Hanigar and Martin Maldonado drove in a pair of Milwaukee runs. Brewers' starter Yovani Gallardo gave up one run in two and two-thirds innings -- a homer to Michael Taylor. Milwaukee is now 4-and-4 this spring. They'll play Colorado this afternoon.
Wisconsin defensive back Dezmen Southward was the standout performer yesterday at the Badgers' Pro Day. He showed off his speed and jumping ability to about 25 scouts in advance of the spring N-F-L Draft. Southward -- who was pulled out of drills at the league's recent Scouting Combine -- ran the 40-yard dash in four-point-three-one-seconds and excelled in several other agility and jumping drills. It resulted in a number of interviews with the N-F-L scouts afterward. Linebacker Chris Borland improved on his recent combine tests. Four other Badgers took part in limited drills -- receiver Jared Abbrederis, running back James White, tight end Jacob Pederson, and offensive lineman Ryan Groy. The Green Bay Packers had three scouts on hand.
Several players were at new positions yesterday, as the Wisconsin football team held its first spring practice. Coach Gary Andersen moved a pair of larger linebackers to defensive end -- Garret Dooley and Alec James. Both sat out last season with red-shirts. Andersen says he wants a faster defense this year, and both Dooley and James will get bigger over time. Back-up defensive end Logan Schmidt was moved to guard, and tight end Alex Walker was moved to left tackle. Andersen said injuries have given him a short supply of offensive linemen, and he's trying to build up those numbers. Also, freshman offensive lineman Jaden Gault will miss at least the entire spring after having knee surgery. Andersen expects Gault to return in the fall.
The U-W Milwaukee women lost at Valparaiso last night, 94-to-80, as they blew a chance to secure a first-round bye for next week's Horizon League Tournament. The Crusaders pulled away by scoring 17 straight points early in the second half. Ashley Green scored a season-high 32 points for U-W-M, which dropped to 4-and-11 in the Horizon League and 8-and-20 overall. Charae Richardson scored 24 for Valparaiso, which had season-highs for points with 94, and shooting percentage at 56-and-a-half. Milwaukee shot 46-percent, as Valpo improved to 3-and-12 in the Horizon League and 5-and-23 overall. The Panthers will close out their regular season on Saturday at home against Oakland. Tonight, the U-W Green Bay women host Oakland. And the Wisconsin women will play Minnesota in the opening round of their Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
Marquette senior Katherine Plouffe has been named to the All-Big East Conference first team. She was a unanimous choice, after being the league's second-highest scorer in the regular season with just over 17 and a half points a game. Plouffe was also the league's third-leading rebounder with just over nine boards per contest. Plouffe was also named the league's top scholar-athlete. She has a three-point-four grade point average with a major in communication studies. Marissa Janning of Creighton was named the Big East player of the year. The awards were presented in advance of the league tournament which begins on Saturday in Chicago. Marquette's first game is on Sunday night against Villanova.
Eau Claire Memorial will go for its second straight title, as the W-I-A-A boys' state high school hockey tournament begins today in Madison. Quarter-final games are on tap today in one division. Superior and Verona kick things off at Noon at the Alliant Energy Center. Eau Claire Memorial then takes on Green Bay Notre Dame. Tonight, Wausau West plays the University School of Milwaukee. Onalaska closes out the evening against Kettle Moraine-Mukwonago. Today's winners will advance to tomorrow's semi-finals. The girls' state hockey tournament also opens tomorrow with their semis. Both championship games are set for Saturday.
Madison golfer Steve Stricker will play in only his second event of the year, as he joins a talented field for the W-G-C's Cadillac Championship today in Miami. Stricker is 13th in the World Golf Rankings. This is the first event since the 2012 P-G-A Championship in which all 50 of the world's top-ranked players will take part. Stricker is on a limited schedule for the second year in a row, as he tends to more family business back home in Wisconsin. He'll be in a three-some with Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell. Their tee-time is just after 11:15 at Trump National-Dural.