The newly ranked top 10 Wisconsin Badgers headed to Evanston tonight to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats were coming off a top-10 win over Michigan State on the road. Tonight, they also welcomed back Pete Nance, their leading scorer and number seven scorer in the Big Ten. A hard fought win on the road for the Badgers now has them tied for first place in the Big Ten! Here’s three things from tonight’s game.
Wisconsin and Northwestern aren’t historically known for their offensive prowess. The first half did not resemble this. A 41-35 score at half, capped off with a Chucky Hepburn half-court heave. The Badgers had three people in double figures at half, Chucky Hepburn, Johnny Davis, and Brad Davison. On the other end, Wisconsin was not playing poor defense by any means. Not allowing a free throw attempt or a fast break point is a great first half. However, Chase Audige who averages just 11.8 PPG had 16 in the first half. A 24% 3 point shooter was knocking down NBA threes.
The second half was no different. Back and forth these teams went hitting impressive shots. The Badgers are 14-0 when scoring 60+ points and they hit that Number with over 10 minutes left in the second half. The Wildcats have not scored over 70 points on Wisconsin since 1997, thanks Andy Katz for that fun fact. Wisconsin needed every bit of their 82 points as the Wildcats would not go quietly.
Three Point Shooting
Wisconsin entered tonight 13th in the Big Ten for 3-point%. Shooting just 30% on the year, the Badgers started the game 7-9 from the three point line. Although they came back to earth, they still finished 9-17. That is still well over their 30% average. A couple of the late misses were late shot clock heaves from Brad. When the Badgers got open looks, they knocked them down. Johnny was 4-5 which included a bank in three with two minutes left. Which was immediately followed by a Brad Davison dagger three. Chucky was 2-3 and Tyler Wahl hit on his one attempt. On the road in the Big Ten, you must be able to shoot above 30% from three. If Wisconsin can continue to improve on their average and have guys like Wahl and Hepburn it would be very beneficial.
On top of winning the three point battle, the Badgers excelled from the free throw line while it hindered the Wildcats. Besides the late misses, Wisconsin still went 17-26 compared to just 3-8 for Northwestern.
The “Others” Stepping Up
I put “others: ” in quotations because it feels wrong to discredit the guys outside of Johnny. Every single player on the roster has contributed to this great start. However, it is no secret that Johnny has carried the offensive load at times this season. As of late, we have seen guys like Tyler Wahl take a major jump on the offensive end. Tonight, we had a plethora of guys step up in the scoring department. All 5 starters hit double figures, with my personal favorite being an impressive Chucky fadeaway as the shot clock was expiring.
The one complaint you could make offensively has been the constant lack of bench production. Chris Vogt has been the only one to make a scoring impact off the bench. Tonight was no different as Vogt had all 4 of the Badger bench points. To be fair, the bench are seeing limited minutes and the only other person to attempt a shot besides Vogt was Lorne Bowman II who had a three go half-way down.
A quick shoutout to Johnny Davis once again. It seemed like he had a quiet night, but he finished with 27 points and eight rebounds. All while Northwestern threw the kitchen sink at him defensively and even busted up his nose a little bit.
Up next, a huge matchup at home with the Michigan State Spartans. Be loud on Friday night Kohl Center.