[media-credit name=’MEGHAN CONLIN/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′][/media-credit]Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 81 points this past Sunday — the second-highest total in the NBA only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100.
The next basketball player to etch his/her name on that very same list could possibly be Ohio State's Jessica Davenport when the Buckeyes host Wisconsin's women's basketball team tonight.
Well, maybe that's a little too much, but Davenport will certainly be able to score at will on the Badgers' struggling team.
Davenport — last year's Big Ten Player of the Year — is coming off her second-straight Big Ten Player of the Week award highlighted by a 31-point performance at Michigan State, including the game-winning shot.
Also, Michigan State — last year's national runner-up — had a 23-game home-winning streak in East Lansing.
And I forgot the fact that Davenport was fighting off double- and triple-team coverage the whole night.
Simply put, Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone is going to have her hands full on the road trip to Columbus, Ohio.
"We have a daunting task at Ohio State this week, but we played them well in the Big Ten Tournament for the most part last year," Stone said. "They're coming off a big win, and we're going to go in there and give them everything we've got."
But in all reality, everything the Badgers have got probably won't be enough versus the No. 7-ranked Buckeyes.
The matchup with Ohio State in the second round of last year's Big Ten tournament in which Stone mentioned was, in fact, a competitive game, with the Badgers as close as six points and the halftime score at 35-23.
In the end, however, Davenport and Ohio State never looked back after intermission, en route to a commanding 70-46 victory.
Many of the key components from both teams are back this year as well, so it may be absurd to even consider Wisconsin has a shot tonight, but the victory might not be the utmost objective in this game.
This is a Wisconsin team that has struggled tremendously this season and recently snapped a five-game losing streak with a 75-48 win over Eastern Illinois Monday.
To be fair, the Badgers have endured their fair share of injuries and suspensions throughout the entire year, but now it seems as though they may finally be close to full strength if Annie Nelson (shoulder) and Janese Banks (foot) are able to return.
No definite word has been said on either's status, but it is likely that both will play.
Nelson and Banks each dressed for Monday night's game but were kept out for precautionary reasons, and one thing is for sure — their returns will be more than welcome for a depleted Badger roster with only eight healthy players.
"We're banged up," Stone said. "We need Janese [Banks] back and Annie [Nelson] as well."
While the team will be looking forward to Nelson and Banks getting back on the court, one bright spot has been the emergence of some of the Badgers' younger players.
Danielle Ward has been solid all year in her sophomore season and has established herself as Stone's first option off the bench by averaging 10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.
Freshman Christine Spencer especially has stepped up in recent games — most notably Monday night versus Eastern Illinois.
"The kids are growing, they really are," Stone said. "A lot of people have stepped up. Chris Spencer had her career high [10 points]."
Whether or not Nelson and Banks return unfortunately won't play much of a difference in Wisconsin's matchup with Ohio State, as Davenport is capable of having her way with just about anyone on the Badgers' roster.
Look out, Kobe.