Wisconsin-Western Kentucky recap: Badgers escape with 81-80 victory

wisconsin basketball-badgers vs. xavier-ethan happ

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin defeated Western Kentucky 81-80 on Wednesday night at the Kohl Center to snap a two-game losing skid. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Badgers desperately needed something positive after learning in the past week that two of their top guards would be out significant time with injuries.

WHY WISCONSIN WON: The Badgers entered the game shooting just 33.0 percent on 3-pointers this season, which was surprising considering how many good shooters are on the team. But Wisconsin found its long-range stroke early by drilling its first 3 3-point attempts. Wisconsin made more 3s in the first half (six) than it had in any of its last three games and finished the game Wednesday 12 of 20.

Wisconsin led just 52-51 at the 14:30 mark of the second half but used a 9-0 run to finally gain some breathing room. But Western Kentucky came roaring back and tied the score at 80-80. Wisconsin guard Brad Davison then drew a foul as the Badgers tried to inbound the ball with 2.0 seconds remaining. He made his first free throw, and Western Kentucky’s last-second heave misfired, allowing the Badgers to escape.

 

WHAT IT MEANS: Regardless of the outcome, it’s clear Wisconsin has plenty of issues to figure out in the coming weeks. With Kobe King (left knee) out for the season and D’Mitrik Trice (right foot) beginning rehab from surgery in 2-3 weeks, the Badgers’ guard depth is incredibly thin. Badgers coach Greg Gard was forced to burn the redshirt of freshman walk-on guard Walt McGrory on Wednesday to provide Brad Davison with a breather at point guard.

Gard tried anything he could with the frontcourt rotation to build some positive momentum. Andy Van Vliet, who hadn’t even played the last three games, was the first frontcourt player off the bench. He lasted about 1 1/2 minutes before being pulled. Gard also used Alex Illikainen, who had only played 33 minutes this season.

In the end, however, Wisconsin’s victory could represent a huge gut-check moment for the Badgers this season. Wisconsin could have allowed some shaky first-half play to snowball. Instead, the Badgers are 5-8 with a chance to move back above .500 before Big Ten play begins again in January.

WHO STARRED: Four different Wisconsin players reached double figures in scoring. Aleem Ford had a strong showing by making 4 3-pointers and finishing with 14 points to go with 5 rebounds. Brevin Pritzl made a clutch 3 just before the first half ended and tallied 17 points. He and Ford combined to make 8 of 10 3-pointers. Ethan Happ scored 17 points and dished out 6 assists, while Brad Davison had 16 points with 5 assists.

WHO STUMBLED: Andy Van Vliet was given an opportunity to play early but committed a turnover, missed a shot and was called for a foul being being subbed out of the game. He played 2 minutes. Nate Reuvers’ shooting woes continues. He made 1 of 5 shots from the field and has hit 13 of 42 field goals this season

WHO IS NEXT: Wisconsin hosts Green Bay at the Kohl Center on Dec. 23 at 4:30 p.m. CT

BOX SCORE:

 

The post Wisconsin-Western Kentucky recap: Badgers escape with 81-80 victory appeared first on Land of 10.

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