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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Badgers crush Louisville in the B1G/ACC Challenge

Wisconsin was able to do whatever they wanted, taking down Louisville by 37 points.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

After being postponed for over a week due to complications with COVID-19 in the Louisville program, Wisconsin and Louisville were finally able to play their part in the B1G/ACC Challenge Saturday morning.

The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers (5-1 overall, 0-0 B1G) came in to the contest fresh off a nice win over Loyola Chicago earlier in the week, but No. 23 Louisville represented a much bigger challenge.

Louisville was without their top player after Carlik Jones was a late scratch minutes before tip, but the Badgers were the far superior team, holding on for a huge 37 points victory.

In the first handful of minutes, the Badgers were hot from three, making their first three shots from deep to jump out to a 9-2 lead. The balmy start would continue, as Wisconsin moved the ball well to take a 14-4 lead into the first media timeout.

With D’Mitrik Trice doing a lot of the heavy lifting with an early nine points, the Badgers would just continue to pour it on. Wisconsin held Louisville scoreless for over seven consecutive minutes, allowing the Badgers to extend their lead to 22 with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half.

To round out the first stanza, Wisconsin just kept things rolling. The Badgers took a 26 point lead into the half, holding a 44-18 advantage with Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice outscoring Louisville.

After the intermission, it was Micah Potter who kept the scoring barrage going. The senior forward scored eight of the teams first 10 points, helping Wisconsin maintain a 54 - 27 edge at the first media stoppage.

Nothing seemed to slow the Badgers down, the ball movement on offense and the defensive effort never wavered for Wisconsin all game long. With eight minutes remaining the Badgers held a 69 to 38 lead as Aleem Ford and Micah Potter paced the team in the second half.

Over the final minutes, Wisconsin would turn to their bench and coast to the easy win, and secure another win for the Big Ten in the B1G/ACC Challenge.

Notable stat lines:

  • Micah Potter —> 20 points (7-of-13 shooting), seven rebound
  • Aleem Ford —> 12 points (5-of-10 shooting), two rebounds, two assists
  • Brad Davison —> 10 points (3-of-7 shooting), two rebounds, four assists
  • Trevor Anderson —> 11 points (4-of-4 shooting), three assists

Three things that stood out

No. 1: Half-court defense

The Wisconsin defense was superb in the first half. While Louisville was without their top scorer, the Badgers put the clamps down on the Cardinals offensive. Louisville was unable to get anything going for large chunks of the half, as Wisconsin was very active on the ball and in help situations. Potentially more importantly though, the Badgers were doing so while not fouling, an issue that had popped up the past few games.

If Wisconsin can harness the defensive intensity that they played with in the first half against Louisville, this team could excel in Big Ten play.

For the game, Louisville turned the ball over 18 times leading to 19 points for the Badgers, and the Cardinals only shot 36% from the field. The Wisconsin defense stood out on Saturday.

No. 2: Ball movement

A big reason for the offensive explosion against Louisville was how well the Badgers moved the ball. At times in the previous six games the offense would tend to bog down for stretches, however Saturday the passing was crisp and effective. The swing offense is predicated on ball movement and is much more efficient when done right. Regardless of the type of defense that Louisville threw at the Badgers, Greg Gard’s bunch had an answer.

In the first half alone, Wisconsin shot 53% from the field (59% from three), and only recorded three turnovers compared to 11 assists.

Not much changed in the second half, as Wisconsin just continued to pour it in on the offensive end. For the game, Wisconsin finished shooting 64% from three, and dished out 22 assists. The performance was by far the best of the year so far for the Badgers.

No. 3: Mojo back

Last season the Badgers played their best after adopting throwback uniforms as their standard home jerseys. Well given the way that the Badgers played Saturday, they might want to consider doing the same this season.

Everything was humming for the Badgers against Louisville, and it was an all-around great performance for the team. With Big Ten play upcoming next week, for Wisconsin to put together their best performance of the early season is definitely noteworthy and a positive sign for what this team is capable of this year. The Badgers played very confident on both ends of the court and looked like the team that many projected them to be coming into the season.

Also, the jerseys were legit. Run them back for Nebraska, who says no?

Up next: The Badgers have a quick turnaround for their first game of the Big Ten season with a home tilt against Nebraska. The game is set for Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST, and can be seen on FS1.