Another second-half deficit faced Wisconsin for the second time this week. Down by as much as 12 points to NC State on Tuesday, the Badgers trailed Iowa by eight after Luka Garza’s and-one with 12:56 remaining in Friday night’s contest at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Yet again, as seen against the Wolfpack, Greg Gard’s squad responded to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead and ultimately come away with a hard-fought, 72–66 win in Iowa City.
Redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice tallied a game-high 20 points with seven rebounds and redshirt junior Brevin Pritzl came up big on both ends of the court.
Here are some takeaways from the hard-fought conference road win.
Trice has to win some sort of comeback player of the year award. Coming into the game shooting 60 percent from three-point range, he hit four of eight from deep, including this one with just a couple seconds left on the shot clock early in the second half:
More impressive than that, there’s this one with about 20 seconds left in the game, which was followed up by a Jordan Bohannon three-pointer to keep the game within one score.
OK, just one more:
Foul trouble hurt Wisconsin, especially in the frontcourt. Ethan Happ scored 13 points, grabbed seven boards, and dished five assists on the night, but he fouled out with about 45 seconds left in the game. Fellow forwards Nate Reuvers and Aleem Ford both picked up four fouls each as well.
Now, let me say that I’m not the world’s best basketball analyst by any stretch, but there were a lot of fouls called on Wisconsin. In all, both teams combined for 40 (24 by UW, 16 by Iowa).
Pritzl stepped up with 12 points (seven in the first half), which was a welcomed sign. The guard fought through another tough shooting performance from deep, going only 2-of-6 from three-point range, but he made all three shots inside the arc. The big one, however, came with about one minute left, when he took a Happ pass near the corner and drained a go-ahead three that put Wisconsin up 63–61. The Badgers would never trail thereafter.
On that play, Joe Wieskamp went to help defend Happ on the inside, which allowed Pritzl to be wide open. As I told Black Heart Gold Pants, if you double Happ to contain him—something Iowa did to a very good extent on Friday night—you leave a “pick your poison” situation if some of Wisconsin’s shooters can hit those shots. Though he was mostly cold from three on Friday night and is only 8-of-24 on the season through eight games, Pritzl delivered in a clutch situation.
Give credit where credit is due: Iowa forward Tyler Cook is good. He was an interior animal, scoring a team-high 19 points (8-of-15 from the field) and grabbing 15 rebounds. Six of those 15 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
The injury to Trevor Anderson will obviously be something to watch. The Green Bay transfer had acted like a spark in the past two games. Against NC State when Wisconsin was down 10 in the second half, he scored five consecutive points to trim the Wolfpack lead in half. Facing Iowa on Friday night after the deficit hit eight, he made a layup on the ensuing possession. He may have only averaged 6.9 minutes through eight games, but in my opinion, he could show a presence in short stints.
Anderson’s injury also could mean more minutes for true freshman Tai Strickland. In five games, he has averaged only 2.4 minutes—including about a minute’s worth of play on Friday—but depending upon matchups and foul trouble, it is worth monitoring his development and playing time.
I have a feeling Friday night’s win is just the beginning for some competitive Big Ten action this season. Rutgers, who comes to Madison for a Monday-night showdown, even played Michigan State tough in a home loss.
Khalil Iverson destroys rims in Iowa City. He contributed seven points and three rebounds in the win.