After scoring 41 points in the first half, Wisconsin’s season ends as they fell apart in the second half. They scored 13 points in the second half and went scoreless in the last 9:08 of the game. In the end, the Badgers fell to North Texas 56-54 in the semi-finals in the NIT. Wisconsin ends its roller-coaster season at 20-15. Chucky Hepburn led Wisconsin with 15 points but didn’t score in the final 20 minutes. Here are three takeaways from the Badgers’ gut-wrenching loss.
The First Half Was Great
North Texas only allows 57 points a game all season. Wisconsin scored 41 in the first half. Hepburn was a huge reason, as he scored 15 points on five threes. We haven’t seen a spurt like that from Hepburn since the Marquette game in December.
As a team, UW shot 50% from the field and 41% from three. It looked like it would be a blowout and Wisconsin would be on its way to the championship game. Tyler Wahl was also good in the first half with 10 points.
The Second Half Was What This Team Struggled With All Season
The Badgers were haunted by free throw shooting, shooting slumps, and being careless with the ball at times all season. Everything happened in the second half. Credit the Mean Green for making shots to apply pressure, but Wisconsin’s season ends as this team ultimately fell apart.
The Mean Green went on runs of 9-2 to make it 47-42 and then went on a 10-0 run to end the game. Tyler Wahl had a chance to tie the game down two but missed both free throws. UW also missed 14 of their final 15 shots, the only one a Connor Essegian three with 9:08 left.
After Wisconsin got the ball, Greg Gard called a timeout with 5.8 seconds left. They never got a shot off out of the timeout. It was a bad final minute for Wahl and something that should not happen for a senior. I do think the ball was supposed to go to Essegian, but Max Klesmit went to Chucky Hepburn instead. After Hepburn passes on the three, it was a broken play.
Wisconsin’s Season Ends Means It’s Time To Buckle Up
My message to Badgers fans after Wisconsin’s season ends is this: buckle up because it could be a crazy transfer portal summer for the Badgers. Wisconsin needs at least two if not three, players out of the transfer portal to help get this team back to where it should be. Going scoreless in the final 9:08 is inexcusable for a D1 program.
Wisconsin needs a sharpshooter and a backup center in the transfer portal. You could also argue they need a hot creator who can also handle the ball. Greg Gard will have to have some tough conversations with players, and I fully expect multiple players to test the transfer portal, as well.
At the end of the day, this coaching staff missed out on some players in the transfer portal last season. It was also a team that wasn’t good at shooting the ball but was an above-average defensive team. It’s become clear as Wisconsin’s season ends that this team needs offense, and they need it fast.
For More Wisconsin Sports Content
Follow me on Twitter @DylanBuboltz and follow us @WiSportsHeroics for more great content. To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports, click here! Also, check out our merch store for some amazing WSH merchandise!