The Badgers couldn't make a shot. They were making uncharacteristic turnovers. They were rushing shots early in the shot clock.
And yet, Wisconsin somehow beat Iowa 62-59 in overtime Wednesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
You often hear basketball players complain about shots not falling when in reality the real problem is defense, turnovers or hustle. But for this Badger team, it might really be as simple as making shots.
Wisconsin leads the country in fewest turnovers (7.8 per game) and is second in scoring defense (56.3 points per game). UW turned the ball over only eight times Wednesday night and allowed just 59 points despite playing overtime, both right around its averages. And if it wasn't for 16 offensive rebounds, the Badgers would have been blown out by the Hawkeyes in the first half Wednesday, so hustle certainly wasn't the problem either.
But making just 6-of-33 first half shots certainly was the problem. And the Badgers needed every bit of their 51.7 percent second half shooting just to force overtime.
Jordan Taylor's jumper with 29 seconds left tied the game at 53 and forced the extra frame.
Shooting on the road continues to be a problem for Wisconsin, especially in Big Ten play. Other than the 55 percent outburst at Northwestern last month, the Badgers have now shot 42 percent or worse in four of five conference road games and three of those games have been below 38 percent.
In comparison, the Badgers are shooting 48 percent at home this season. And to really put it in perspective, consider that Wisconsin just got done blitzing Michigan State 82-56 at home Sunday by shooting 59 percent from the field. To follow that up with an 18 percent first half performance in Iowa City is just bizarre.
And that's the core of the problem. Forget the overall percentages, it's the inconsistency on the road that is startling. A similar poor shooting half at Penn State cost UW a 14-point lead and resulted in a loss.
Still, Wisconsin sits at 18-5 overall and 8-3 in the Big Ten for the second straight season and came into Wednesday night's game averaging 6.3 more points per game than last year's team. That, coupled with UW's phenomenal defensive, turnover and free throw statistics, point to a lot of optimism with this squad.
Tonight's win at Iowa was by no means pretty, but the Badgers got big shots from key players in crunch time and gutted out a win away from the Kohl Center. That's more than they can say about their trips to Illinois, Michigan State and Penn State.
This was the type of win that can pay dividends come March.
Leuer has a historic game
Jon Leuer recorded his fourth double-double of the season Wednesday night with 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. The last time a Badger recorded at least 15 rebounds was Feb. 15, 2006 when Alando Tucker grabbed 16 boards against Ohio State. Wisconsin is now 15-1 this season when Leuer grabs at least six rebounds, which he has done in each of his last three games.
UW could set all-time free throw record
The Badgers are currently on pace to break the all-time NCAA record for team free throw percentage in a season. Wisconsin currently leads the country with an 82.9 free throw percentage. The 1983-84 Harvard team currently holds the record after it finished the season with an 82.2 percentage from the line.