Wisconsin basketball returned to the Kohl Center tonight to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Last season, Wisconsin lost all three matchups against the Hawkeyes. Both teams look different this season, but Iowa had a lot of players left from last year’s team. Wisconsin again was locked in offensively, scoring 87 and ultimately winning 87-78 thanks to some garbage time buckets from the Hawkeyes. Here’s 3 things from tonight’s win.
Johnny Davis vs Keegan Murray
A game within the game tonight was the matchup of Johnny Davis and Keegan Murray. Murray leads the entire country at 24.5 PPG. Johnny Davis is 3rd on that list at 22.3 PPG right behind Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn. Johnny Davis did not disappoint in the first half. Posting 19 points and 7 rebounds. Johnny has now scored 15+ points in all 12 games he has played in. Johnny finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Included in this matchup was a few NBA scouts in attendance.
Keegan Murray on the other hand had a great night once again. He is definitely the real deal and you can see why he leads the nation in scoring. He finished with 27 points but only 5 rebounds. The Badgers did not make it easy on the nation’s leading scorer, but he still responded with tough buckets. Murray had to fight for every bucket and faced multiple Badger defenders every possession. Speaking of defense, the Badgers kept in check the NCAA record holder for games played in Jordan Bohannon. Badger fans know this name all too well, the super senior who was appearing in his 158th career game had just 12 points on 6 shot attempts. Most of these points being in garbage time.
Coming into the season, many people did not see this Wisconsin team being this good offensively. It helps having one of the country’s best players and scorers in Johnny Davis. However, the entire team has looked efficient and confident on the offensive end. The Badgers put up 45 points in the first half. Following up in the second half with 42 points. All five starters scored in double figures. The Badgers are 11-0 when scoring over 59 points and they hit that tonight at the 14:32 mark! We have seen some pretty high scoring games from the Badgers this season like the 89 points against Marquette and Illinois State.
Iowa is one of the fastest paced teams in all of college basketball, and Wisconsin did not let that speed them up or make them uncomfortable on the offensive end. Iowa tried that token pressure with their ¾ court press that rattled the Badgers last season in Iowa City. This young group wasn’t fazed by it and were able to continue to get shots.
Wisconsin also has a great sense of when to push the pace and when to run their stuff. We have seen this team get out in transition much more than recent teams but not to the point of being out of control. Highlighting this was a perfect alley-oop from Jahcobi Neath to Johnny Davis after Tyler Wahl got dirty diving on the floor. They also have learned when to simply feed the hot hand with Johnny Davis. Whether in the half-court swing, transition, or as Chucky likes to say, “Get the ball to Johnny and get the F out of the way”. This group has found their identity offensively and should only continue to get better with chemistry.
Wisconsin has a pretty intriguing next two games on the schedule. Two games that the Badgers should handle easily, and then two tough games against top-15 opponents. No game in the Big Ten is guaranteed, so taking care of Northwestern and Maryland who are struggling this year is important. The two games besides that come both at home against Ohio State and Michigan State. Easily two of the best teams in the conference, if Wisconsin can find a way to win those games they will continue to climb up the ranks.