Wisconsin basketball suffered their first conference loss last night, The Badgers fell on the road to Penn State 87-83. Guards Ace Baldwin Jr and Kayne Clary combined for 47 points on 18-31 shooting. They had their way all night with the Wisconsin basketball guards. The Badgers fall to 13-4 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play.
AJ Storr and Steven Crowl had nice nights for the Badgers. Storr led the way with 23 points while Crowl added 17 points and 10 rebounds. John Blackwell also added 14 points off the bench. Here are three takeaways from last night’s loss.
Max Klesmit Had Early Foul Trouble
Max Klesmit, who has been Wisconsin basketball’s best player over the last few weeks, fell into early foul trouble and picked up two fouls in less than two minutes. As a result, he only played 15 minutes and eventually fouled out.
In the second half, Klesmit hit a three in the final minutes that gave the Badgers the lead. However, Penn State quickly responded and never gave the lead back again. We saw just how important Klesmit is to this team. He might the most important player on this roster.
Ace Baldwin and Kayne Clary Did Whatever They Wanted to the Wisconsin Basketball Guards
This is about as bad as I have seen a group of Wisconsin basketball guards play defensively. Going into this game, we knew Baldwin and Clary would be handfuls. I did not expect them to dominate the group of Chucky Hepburn, Klesmit, Kamari McGee, and John Blackwell.
On just about every possession, either Baldwin or Clary would beat their defender off the first dribble. It put the Wisconsin post players in tough situations. Most of the time, it would end up in a short jump shot or an open Penn State post player. Credit Baldwin and Clary for also making some tough shots, but the post players were put in no mans land all night.
The Defense is Becoming an Issue
Greg Gard mentioned after the game the defense was not where he wants to to be this time of year. Like most fans, I am surprised at how much this team is struggling on the defensive side. Defense was why they were in just about every game last year. Four of the starters returned from that team and the fifth one (Essegian) is coming off the bench. There really isn’t a reason why it’s now a problem.
At this time of the year, teams won’t be able to to change their identity much more. Wisconsin basketball is running out of time to fix their lapses on defense. For the most part, this is what they will be the rest of the year.
I do want to give Penn State credit as they played just about a perfect game. The Badgers offense was great again and that won’t be an issue. However, to give up 87 point to a team that will finish near the bottom of the Big Ten this season, that’s at least a little bit of a cause for concern.
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