It took a total team effort and great synchronization from the trio of Badger guards, but by the time the final buzzer sounded at Welsh-Ryan Arena Wednesday night, Wisconsin was able to win its first true road game of the season. Now, before the focus turns to Ohio State, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at the game that was.
The following are the good, bad and ugly themes, happenings and trends from the Badgers 60-50 win over the Wildcats.
-UW's trio of guards:
With Jon Leuer sidelined while he recovers from surgery to repair a fractured wrist, Wisconsin knew it would need production from several players to fill the void left from the junior forward.
And that is exactly what UW's trio of Trevon Hughes, Jordan Taylor and Jason Bohannon did. In the first half, Bohannon and Taylor combined for 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and had a direct impact on the tied score at halftime.
Then, in the second half, Bohannon chipped in nine more points and Hughes came to life to aid in UW's clinching 14-2 run to seal the win. After starting the game with nine straight misses, Hughes finished by connecting on 5-of-6 shots for 14 points in a four-minute stretch.
By the end, Hughes, Taylor and Bohannon combined for 45 of the team's 60 points, shot nearly 40 percent from the floor, collected 17 rebounds and dished 11 assists with only three turnovers. In short, they were the difference in the game.
"I just thought their back court played very well," Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said after the fact. "Bohannon in the first half, we couldn't keep tabs on him. And then Hughes came through in the last five minutes, basically. Like I said, I think it was a winnable game.
"Our guys are disappointed."
-Mike Bruesewitz and team rebounding:
In his two previous games, freshman Mike Bruesewitz ripped down 10 rebounds in 10 minutes of game action. On Wednesday, his production wasn't quite one rebound per minute, but it was still pretty impressive.
In nine minutes of action, the forward collected four rebounds, all offensive, in nine minutes of play. He was an integral cog in the rebounding machine that saw the Badgers reel in the final 11 rebounds of the contest before Northwestern collected one with two seconds to play.
It was truly an impressive performance for a team that had only 14 rebounds in the first half and finished with 38. In case you were wondering, Northwestern only had 29 as a team.
"I was hoping nobody noticed so we could try to use that as a weapon," Ryan jokingly said after the game. "I think we got the last 11 rebounds. How many of them were offensive? I'd say five at least. But sometimes you're on the other end of that too. Both teams were hustling and bodies were flying into one another.
"We seemed to win what we always call the skirmishes a little bit more tonight."
When a sophomore makes his first start in a road environment that his team routinely struggles in, chances are things won't go necessarily according to plan. That was not the case for Taylor who finished his 37 minutes of play with 10 points.
His most impressive stat, though, was the fact that he dished seven assists without committing a turnover. That is simply unheard of.
"He's showing a great deal of leadership out there," Hughes said in regards to Taylor's game. "He's running the squad. It looks good because he's my backup. It feels good when he's got the stats like that."
While Taylor played exceptionally well, particularly when it comes to ball control, so did his teammates. By the end of the game, UW only committed five turnovers, marking it's lowest since the win against Duke in early December.
-Second half shooting:
-In the first half, it seemed as though Northwestern was shooting the lights out and rarely missed. But as it turns out, Wisconsin actually finished the opening 20 minutes with a better percentage (50) than Northwestern (45.8).
But in the final frame, the Badgers struggled to find their shot. By the end of the half, UW had only hit 28.6 percent of its shots and finished with a 38.5 percent clip for the game. And an even worse 26.9 percent rate from downtown.
Without Leuer, the team's best shooter in regards to percentage, the team is going to have to start hitting shots at a healthier rate. While the Badgers will rarely be out of a game because of it's tough nosed defense, it could struggle to win with shooting performances like that.
But then again, Hughes and company hit shots when the Badgers needed it most.
-Number of three's taken:
One of the misnomers about going against a zone defense is how the three-point shot becomes that much more important. That simply is not the case. To be effective against a zone, an offense doesn't need to jack up three's in order to score. It can drive through and find open players on dribble penetration or attack the rim.
The three's are usually taken when the ball touches the post and is kicked back out. But for the most part, and I'm sure the team would tell you, 26 three-point attempts is probably too many.
First of all, I am fully aware that not all were bad shots and that most of them are open. But the fact of the matter is that three-pointers accounted for half of UW's shots in the game. If those aren't falling (UW hit seven of them) chances are a team will struggle. In this case, UW was able to hit a few at big moments and ride the momentum to victory. But I have strong doubts that that is a route the team is willing to take on a game-by-game basis.
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