The Wisconsin Badgers came in as road dogs. While most were not expecting them to make the return trip to Madison as victors, the way in which they lost was shocking. For a team that had dominated opponents as of late, this was a let down, and a chance that slipped away to prove that they belonged in the top tier conversations.
Wisconsin Badgers: Where it went wrong
It was going relatively well. Midway through the first half, the game was tied, and Arizona had a couple of players in foul trouble. But with about 7 minutes left in the first half, Arizona went on a 17-2 run to give the Wildcats an insurmountable 15 point lead.
From then on, Arizona was able to control the rest of the game, leaving the Wisconsin Badgers team looking outmatched and out of sorts.
They looked to post up Steven Crowl against Oumar Ballo, who managed to win some low post battles, but against a strong athletic force, this was never going to be a recipe for success. Credit to Ballo who took on the challenge, and on the other end was able to dominate, including a couple of highlight dunks.
Just in general, they really forced trying to slow the pace of the game in the half court offense to their own undoing. This team plays best when finding players off of screens and movement.
Wisconsin Badgers Inopportune Misfortune
During the time out, we saw a mic’d up huddle of coach Greg Gard imploring his team to not look to run out on the fast break but to secure the rebound first. This came off of a good defensive play in which the Wisconsin Badgers had forced a loose ball on defense. There were several opportunities like this, where the ball just bounced into the hands of a more ready and alert Arizona Wildcat.
From banked threes, to other moments, in which seemingly a magnet allowed Arizona to keep possession, all of the 50/50 moments did not go in favor of the Wisconsin Badgers tonight.
Wisconsin Badgers Bright Spot Of The Night
While it was known that the talent was too good to expect a defensive shut down, allowing nearly 60% shooting and giving up numerous second chances off of offensive rebounds was a frustrating way to lose.
John Blackwell had the best showing on the court though. Against starters in the first half, he provided some much needed energy, and was being a defensive pest, while not being bullied. Though he had some garbage time minutes, we still finished with an earned team high 17 points, shooting 4 of 5 from three. Even the announcers at the end spoke of how well he represented himself throughout the game.
Wisconsin Badgers Ending The Year
After a frustrating evening, the Wisconsin Badgers will have two home games against Jacksonville State, and Chicago State to close out the year. in 2004 they will continue their Big Ten play first against Iowa. This will give them a chance to work on matchups against similar bigs, and to work on how they want their offense to look for the rest of the year.
For now, this game can be chalked up to losing to a better team, and being caught flat footed.