Wisconsin’s win over Tennessee in the opening round of the Maui Invitational was a bit of a rollercoaster. The Badgers got out to a 12-0 start, and extended the lead to 17 with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
But then a combination of sloppy play by the Badgers and hot shooting by the Volunteers allowed Tennessee back in the game. Eventually, the Vols tied the game up and took their first lead at 44-42 at the 13:43 mark of the second half. After trading baskets, Tennessee led 46-44. Just in time, the Badgers went on a decisive 12-2 run to retake control of the game. Let’s break it down.
First, Ethan Happ went to work down low:
Happ has such a beautiful feel for using the backboard. This one is worth watching again, from underneath the basket:
On the ensuing possession, Tennessee settled for a pull-up, two-point jumper, exactly the kind of shot the Badgers want to force. It clanged out and Khalil Iverson collected the rebound. The Badgers went right back inside to Happ, who was double-teamed but found Zak Showalter for an open three in the corner. Unfortunately this is a brief flashback to the Creighton game:
The Badgers did get the offensive rebound, however. Once again, they tried to go inside to Happ, but unfortunately Nigel Hayes’s pass was off the mark and they turned it over. But the Badgers quickly stole it back:
Showalter’s layup attempt was blocked (after he was clearly fouled) but Hayes collected the rebound and was fouled on the follow-up attempt. He hit both freebies and the Badgers led again, 48-46. They would never relinquish the lead.
The Badgers got another stop and then Iverson found Nigel for an open three-point attempt:
Feeling it, the Badgers kept up the intensity on defense. Watch Iverson snuff out his man here, forcing a terrible shot rebounded emphatically by Hayes:
Even during this decisive run, the Badgers kept turning the ball over. On the next possession it was an Iverson pass out of bounds—apparently he was trying to hit Showalter on the baseline but Hayes got in the way and tipped it. Then Tennessee got its only points of this sequence by cheating. Watch the obvious travel on the baseline here that leads to some legitimately nice ball movement and an easy bucket:
On their next possession, the Badgers turned it over again, this time a near miss between Trice and Happ in the paint. Tennessee took the opportunity to try to run, but missed a layup. That led to this thing of beauty:
Next, Showalter mans up and Hayes comes over for a block. Even better, he gathers up the rebound. Bill Walton was proud, no doubt:
Finally, to finish off the run, the Badgers get the ball back to Happ in the post, and he finds Bronson Koenig for a wide-open three from the corner:
Up 56-48 after the 12-2 run, the Badgers never again let Tennessee get closer than six points. It was also immediately after this three that we experienced a seismic shift in Wisconsin basketball: UW went to a 3-2 zone for the rest of the game. It worked well enough, and the Badgers cruised to a 12-point win.