Wisconsin matched up against number 12 Houston in the Maui Jim Invitational semifinal. Houston coming off of a final four appearance last season, reloaded with transfers and looks to make another run this year. A huge test for a young Badger squad, and they rose to the challenge. Following a huge first half, the Badgers were able to hang on in the second half and knocked off the Cougars 65-63. Here are some takeaways from the huge win.
Johnny Davis is a Superstar
Johnny Davis did not slow down after his career high on Monday. He followed that up with a hot start against number 12 Houston. Tonight was Johnny Davis’ introduction to the college basketball world. Davis knocked in 3 triples in the first 10 minutes of the first half. Including two impressive pull up jumpers, one off of one leg. Davis was putting on a clinic in the first half. He finished with 18 points in the first half, with 4 triples. Davis would finish the game with a career high 30 points! he added 4 steals, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks to his career high. Johnny looked comfortable being “the guy” late in the game and was able to do just enough to pull out this win. If Davis can keep playing at this level, especially from the three point line, he will be rising up NBA prospect boards.
The key to the first half besides the Davis eruption came on the defensive end. Houston put on a show yesterday against Butler, but they could not buy a bucket in the first half. Houston shot 7-27 from the field in the first half and were held to 1 assist and 7 turnovers. The Badgers set the tone on the defensive end, and when shots started to fall they earned themselves a 20 point halftime lead. The largest halftime deficit for Houston since Kelvin Sampson took over at Houston. It is only right that the Badgers had to finish the win on the defensive end. After a Davis miss, the Badgers needed one more stop to seal the game, and Houston did not even get a shot attempt up.
Weathering the Storm
We knew Houston wasn’t going to lay down and take this loss. They came out firing in the second half starting with a 10-0 run. Wisconsin’s first field goal of the second half didn’t come until 13:43 from a Tyler Wahl drop step. Wahl came up with 3 huge buckets in the second half to settle down the Badgers.
Houston eventually cut the lead down to 5 which prompted a timeout from coach Gard at the 5 minute mark. With Davison having 4 fouls, a young backcourt was going to have to find some scoring. Johnny Davis decided he wanted to leave his impact on this game one more time. A quick 6-0 Davis run including an emphatic steal and slam gave the Badgers more cushion. The Badgers were able to get just enough stops defensively to knock off the Cougars.
Wisconsin advances to the championship game of the Maui Jim Invitational. Tomorrow at 4pm CT they will play the winner of Oregon and Saint Mary’s.