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Takeaways from Wisconsin’s win vs. Maryland

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Quick thoughts before turning the page to Minnesota (again).

A final 4:37 stretch helped the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers push past the No. 21 Maryland Terrapins on Friday night inside a raucous Kohl Center.

A 15-6 run to end the game allowed Wisconsin (16-6, 8-3 Big Ten) to overtake Maryland (17-6, 8-4) not just in the conference contest but also to jump over the Terps into fourth place in the Big Ten standings. For that matter, this five-game winning streak has the Badgers sitting a half-game behind Purdue for third place and just one game behind No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Michigan State for first.

With that, let’s look at some quick takeaways from Wisconsin’s conference win before Super Bowl festivities begin at the Kocorowski household (see: WINGS!).

Another instance of team’s maturity showing

It seemed that at times it was a game that would not go Wisconsin’s way. A tie game with the ability to break ahead did not come to pass at times in the second half, or the Badgers would crawl back in the first half to make it a one- or two-possession game only for the Terps to make a small run to stretch the lead to as much as nine points twice in the first 20 minutes.

However, this team shows a maturity on the court that last year’s squad perhaps did not, and they ultimately pulled ahead and got the win when it mattered.

After the game, head coach Greg Gard used the words “grittiness,” “fight” and “willpower” when asked about what the team has shown in the five-game winning streak. He also mentioned that his squad has started to embrace and dial it up on the defensive end. That did not show in the first half when Maryland shot 55.6 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range. The second half was a different story, however, as UW held there Terps to just 34.5 percent from the floor, only 20 percent from deep.

A reporter ask Gard how he keeps a team relaxed during a game like this when sometimes the game like this. He mentioned they “just keep playing possession by possession.” He referenced the deficit on the road against Maryland in how they chipped it away. When there is a lead, it’s the same thing.

“It’s one possession at a time,” Gard explained. “You try to extend that lead. You get a stop on the defense end. You get the best shot you can, so you don’t get too consumed with anything more than the current, the present, and that’s the possession we’re headed into next.”

It showed, especially in the last five minutes of the game when surging past the Terps to get the win.

Brad Davison clutch gene is handy

A game-high 21 points came from the sophomore guard, with 14 of those coming in the second half. With D’Mitrik Trice scoring only seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, 1-of-3 from three-point range, Davison complemented Ethan Happ’s big night (18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists).

In the final 4:37 of the game where Wisconsin outscored Maryland 15-6, five free throws from Davison helped pull away from the Terps. Three of his four three-pointers were in the second half, and those were all between the 10:23 and 6:07 mark during a significant stretch where Wisconsin briefly regained the lead at 54-52.

Aleem Ford can still be a factor

After a rough stretch where he shot 0-for-8 from three-pointer range—0 for 10—in the past three games, Ford broke through and connected on four of six field goal attempts. That included hitting two of four from deep in scoring 10 points on the night.

Ford’s first three-pointer of the night gave Wisconsin a lead it would not relinquish, with his second trey doubled a UW advantage to six points with 4:37 remaining in the game. After the game, he spoke about staying confident and believing in himself and that the next shot will fall because his teammates still believed in him.

Davison echoed the confidence they have in Ford but also called out other plays.

“Aleem was huge, I think not only him hitting shots and getting to the rim, but defensively, rebounding, boxing out,” Davison said. “Those are two big guys down there, you got to keep them off the boards. As everyone’ll notice the points that he scored, but he did a lot of other really good things for us. We have full confidence in him.”

Ford also grabbed three rebounds in his 19:10 of playing time on Friday night, one of those being an offensive board that resulted in a tip-in at the 12:33 mark of the second half. As Gard also noted, the redshirt sophomore forward also forced a Maryland turner.

“There’s ways you can impact the game with other than shooting or scoring,” Gard said. “I thought the offensive rebound, the tip-in, even though that’s scoring, and the activity level—he’s constantly trying to get better. He’s got a long ways to go. There’s a lot of things he can improve upon, but when he’s able to make shots—I mean he shoots it pretty well, he shoots it really well in our drills—for him, it’s just a matter of confidence growing. He’s got to continue to build upon that and continue to just take steps forward in all phases of his game, but I think getting on the offensive glass and then a defensive stop where he forced a travel, that gives confidence.”

Brevin Pritzl has hit some critical threes the past two games

Have to give kudos to the redshirt junior guard. He only attempted two shots, but both were key three-pointers in the game.

With one second remaining in the first half, he connected on his first three to cut the Maryland lead from eight to five at 36-31. Then at the 11:15 mark of the second half, he hit the first of two consecutive three-pointers to tied the game at 48-48.

Against Nebraska, he made two of three from deep—including one three near the end of the first half that gave Wisconsin more cushion with a seven-point lead going into halftime.

In his last four games, Pritzl has made the most of his opportunities when presented, hitting on six of nine three-pointers.

The Kohl Center can be a LOUD place to play

The atmosphere inside the arena, where Wisconsin had its “White Out” in full effect, was impressive. It was loud. You could barely hear yourself think at times with the energy that was flowing through the Kohl Center.

“I thought the crowd was amazing. I thought they did a great job,” Gard said. “Students were really into it, whether the white out made a difference in adding more adrenaline to the building or not, but that’s the electricity and noise level we need in this place. it was definitely a boost for us tonight. Thankful for everybody that showed up.”