In a complete and total turnaround from their quarterfinal game, the Wisconsin Badgers (4-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) roared out to a 13-0 lead against the No. 12 Houston Cougars (4-1 overall, 0-0 American) on their way to an eventual 20-point halftime lead. The Badgers were aggressive on defense, flying around and deflecting passes, while also being smart and patient on offense, passing out of double teams and finding the open man.
Sophomore wing Johnny Davis, coming off of a career-high scoring night on Monday, shattered his day old record and had a bit of a national coming out party. Davis scored 30 points and added four rebounds, four steals, two blocks and an assist while being the guy Wisconsin turned to whenever they need a bucket.
He shot 10-of-18 from the field, 4-of-7 from deep and made all six of his free throws while coming up with big plays on both ends of the court. When Houston cut the lead to three late in the second half, the Badgers went to Davis in the post. He drew a foul, sank both free throws then went back down the court on defense and picked Marcus Sasser’s pocket and went down the floor for a dunk to extend the lead back to seven.
At the end of the game with Wisconsin up two, Davis missed a jumper and Houston ran down the court but failed to get a shot off before the buzzer and the Badgers won 65-63 to move on to the Maui Invitational final against either Oregon or St. Mary’s.
Tyler Wahl was also spectacular in this game. He played defense like a man possessed and showed his switchability while guarding multiple positions. He tallied nine points and seven rebounds on the game, but all nine of his points came in the second half and helped to offset some large Houston runs.
This was a great game for the young Badgers and probably the Big Ten’s second best win of the non-conference season (after Purdue’s win over Nova). Can’t wait for Wednesday’s title game to see what Davis does for an encore.
Other notable stat lines:
Chucky Hepburn: three points (1-of-4), four rebounds, three assists
Brad Davison: nine points (2-of-6), four rebounds, two assists, one steal
Steven Crowl: eight points (3-of-6), one rebound, one steal
Kyler Edwards (Houston): 18 points (6-of-10), five rebounds, one assist