Men’s basketball: No. 22 Wisconsin grinds out tough victory on road against Northwestern

The No. 22 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (19-8, 11-5 Big Ten) defeated the Northwestern Wildcats (12-15, 3-13) 69–64 Saturday night in Evanston, Illinois.

Much like the Badgers last game against Illinois, Wisconsin struggled to put together any sort of rhythm, but was still able to hold on for the victory.

In the first half, Northwestern predictably double-teamed senior Ethan Happ, forcing him into just 2-for-6 shooting from the floor and three turnovers. Notably, Happ was able to end his consecutive missed free throw streak at 11 by making his first free throw of the night.

Neither team could pull away by more than three points in the first half, with Northwestern leading 32–31 going into the break. For the half, sophomore D’Mitrik Trice led Wisconsin in scoring with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three. Northwestern was led by senior Dererk Pardon who also had 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, while the rest of the Wildcats shot a combined 8-for-27 as a team.

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In the second half, Nate Reuvers got into foul trouble quickly, committing three personal fouls in the first nine minutes, while having just one in the entire first half — forcing Head Coach Greg Gard to go to his bench with sophomore Aleem Ford, who shot 2-for-4 from three.

Much like the first half, the second half was a back-and-forth battle, with no team leading by more than seven at any point. Up 45–44, Wisconsin went on a run to take what appeared to be a strong lead at 53–46 with 7:30 remaining, but Wildcat senior Vic Law went on a personal 11-2 run to give the Wildcats a 57–55 lead with 5:00 left.

But the Badgers closed out the game strong, hitting crucial shots and four free throws in the final ten seconds to escape Evanston with a victory.

For the second straight game, Ethan Happ was removed in crunch time, exiting the game with 15.4 seconds left despite going 2-for-4 from the free-throw line, putting his season free throw percentage at 43.4 percent.

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Leading performers for the Badgers included sophomore Brad Davison, who finished with a team-high 16 points, and Happ, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds to add another double-double to his resume. D’Mitrik Trice also added 14 points.

Law finished with 24 points, including 17 in the second half, while Pardon added 21 points for Northwestern.

Looking ahead, the Badgers will take on the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington, Indiana Tuesday night. The game will be televised on ESPN and the Big Ten Network, and will also be broadcast on the Badgers Radio Network. The game will tip at 8 p.m. The Badgers will then return home for a matchup next Saturday against Penn State.

Men’s basketball: No. 22 Wisconsin grinds out tough victory on road against Northwestern