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Wisconsin basketball: Purdue recap

Badgers hold on for victory over Boilermakers thanks to excellent free throw shooting down the stretch.

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

On Tuesday night, the Wisconsin Badgers (16-10 overall, 9-6 B1G) men’s basketball team was back in action against the Purdue Boilermakers (14-13 overall, 7-9 B1G) at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers came into the game riding high after consecutive wins for the first time in over a month, with the hopes to flip the script after a 19-point drumming at the hands of the Boilermakers back in late January at Mackey Arena. In the first clash of these two teams, Purdue physically dominated Wisconsin on the boards 42 to 16, and shot nearly 50% from three-point range.

In the second installment though, the Badgers would secure a big victory, avenging the loss in dramatic fashion.

At the beginning of the game, both teams came out of the gates slow, shooting a combined 3-of-13 in the first five minutes. After that initial five minute dogfight, Wisconsin was able to pull away to take a six-point lead into the second media timeout thanks to some nice shooting and overall hustle by Aleem Ford, who scored a career-high 19 points.

Purdue would rally because of a pair of extended scoring droughts by the Badgers, one exceeding five minutes, while the other lasted roughly three minutes. The Boilermakers continued to chip away at the Wisconsin lead, and were able to tie the game up with just under three minutes remaining in the first half.

In the final minutes of the first half though, the Badgers were able to stop the bleeding, and managed to take a three-point lead into the intermission.

To start the second half Wisconsin would come out hot. The Badgers would jump out to a 40-29 lead after the first five minutes. Better ball movement and rebounding allowed the Wisconsin offense to find a rhythm and created better scoring opportunities.

The Badgers lead would ultimately balloon to 13, but Purdue would eventually claw back into the game thanks to a patented Wisconsin scoring drought in the middle of the half. Purdue was able to cut the deficit to four with just over four minutes to play, a pair of Nate Reuvers free throw makes and a big defensive stop at the 3:40 mark would spark the crowd back on Wisconsin’s side.

Over the final three minutes, Wisconsin would struggle to score from the field, as the Boilermakers made some clutch shots to have the ball with 42 second and a chance to take the lead. However, it was the Badgers who would finish the game off with a 69-65 win thanks to some solid free-throw shooting.

Notable stat lines:

  • Aleem Ford —> 19 points (7-of-11 from the floor), seven rebounds, five three pointers
  • Brad Davison —> 13 points (3-of-7 from the floor), three rebounds, one assist
  • Nate Reuvers —> 12 points (3-of-10 from the floor), two assists, six rebounds
  • Trevion Williams (Purdue) —> 17 points (8-of-16 from the floor), two assists, 12 rebounds

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Three-point fun

After making 15-of-31 three-point opportunities against Nebraska over the weekend, the Badgers were back at it against Purdue. Wisconsin was able to make 38.7% of their three-point attempt on 31 shots against one of the best three-point shooting defenses in the Big Ten.

Aleem Ford and Brad Davison in particular were on fire from deep, making a combined 8-of-13 from downtown.

Some stagnant offense in the final minutes of the game significantly diminished the impressiveness of the shooting numbers (1-for-8 to finish the game), but overall the three-point shooting has been impressive during this three game winning streak.

The Wisconsin free-throw buckets though were a saving grace in this one, as the Badgers made 19-of-20 from the charity stripe, including some clutch makes down the stretch.

No. 2: Second chances

As previously noted, Wisconsin was beaten handily on the boards in the first go-round of this game in West Lafayette. That trend continued in the first half, as Purdue was able to get nine offensive rebounds, and turned that effort into 12 second chance points. Trevion Williams, in particular. was a force on the glass, cleaning up eight rebounds in the first half alone.

The Badgers were able to do a much better job in the second half at limiting the offensive rebounds for Purdue. Wisconsin finished the second half giving up only seven second chance points on six offensive rebounds against Purdue after the intermission, while gathering seven offensive boards of their own and rattling home nine second chance points. The flip of the script was an important aspect to the upgraded play, and the win.

No. 3: Token pressure

Over the course of the game, Purdue used token backcourt pressure on the Wisconsin ball-handlers. That minimal full-court press was able to toy with the Badgers ability to get into their offense fluidly, and seemed to knock the offense off their traditional starting position.

Neither team was able to muster much offensively due to the combination of solid defense and shooting struggles in the game, but it was apparent that the Purdue on ball defense hampered what the Badgers could do.

The Badgers will need to do a better job against token pressure moving forward this season, because it clearly had a slight impact on the offense, and that will now be on tape for upcoming opponents to see. While Wisconsin did a good job of not allowing the pressure to result in turnovers, it did seem to change the complexion of the offenses ability to flow.

Up next: Wisconsin will be back at home for a big match up with Rutgers on Sunday at noon CST. The game can be seen on Big Ten Network, and as always follow along at B5Q for a breakdown.