In as close to a must win game as they come, the No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (16-8 overall, 10-7 B1G) took on the Northwestern Wildcats (6-14 overall, 3-13 Big Ten) Sunday night.
Almost exactly a month removed from the first time they met in January, neither team came into the game with much recent success. The Wildcats had lost 12-straight games in the conference, while the Badgers recorded a 3-5 record since.
While both teams came in with their fair share of struggles, it was the the Badgers who were able to take home a big road win.
Wisconsin secures a big road win over Northwestern, 68 to 51.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 22, 2021
Five players finished in double-figures, led by Micah Potter (19 pts 8 reb), and D'Mitrik Trice (13 pts, 5 reb, 5 assists).
In the opening moments of the game, Northwestern guard Boo Buie would outscore the Badgers 7-5 heading into the first media timeout. The Wildcats would continue to stay ahead of Wisconsin over the course of the next six minutes to take a 18-15 at the next stop in action. Like against Iowa, the Badgers were ice cold once again during that stretch, and were lucky that Northwestern was unable to take advantage of their nearly five minute scoring drought.
Micah Potter, D’Mitrik Trice and Jonathan Davis would help spearhead the Wisconsin attack over the next few minutes though to help the Badgers take a five point lead with 3:44 remaining in the half. That trio, and a flurry of Northwestern turnovers, would help propel Wisconsin to take 10-point edge into the break.
The #Badgers close strong at the end of the half to take a 34-24 lead into halftime.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 22, 2021
Micah Potter 15 pts (5-of-6), 4 reb, 2 assists.
Jonathan Davis 9 pts (2-of-4), 2 reb, 1 assist
Trice 8 pts (3-of-3), two reb, 2 assists.
Coming out of the intermission, Northwestern was able to cut the Wisconsin lead to seven with just under sixteen minutes remaining, but the Badgers were able to quickly respond and get the advantage back to 10 in a matter of a minutes.
Jonathan Davis would get things going again for Wisconsin shortly thereafter to sway the score further in favor of the Badgers. By the eight minute mark the score was 56-39, as Northwestern was unable to score for over five minutes.
Over the course of the remaining minutes the Badgers were able to finish the Wildcats off for a 17-point win.
Notable stat lines:
- Micah Potter —> 19 points (7-of-8 from the floor), eight rebounds, three assists
- D’Mitrik Trice —> 13 points (5-of-6 from the floor), five rebounds, five assists
- Brad Davison —> 12 points (3-of-10 from three), six rebounds, three assists
- Boo Buie (NU) —> 19 points (8-of-15 from the floor), two rebounds, four assists
The Wisconsin lead is now 15.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 22, 2021
Jonathan Davis is good. That's the tweet.
Three things that stood out:
No. 1: Three-headed attack
As has been the case most of the year, the three most productive scorers for the Badgers were once again Micah Potter, D’Mitrik Trice and Jonathan Davis. All three players were on against Northwestern and highlighted their scoring abilities.
For a Wisconsin team that has ran into extreme scoring droughts (this game included) far too frequently, the Badgers did a great job of going to their three best scoring threats early and often on Sunday.
Overall those three individuals, with Davis and Potter both coming off the bench, combined for 44 points (15-of-22 from the floor, 6-of-8 from three). Comparatively, the rest of the Wisconsin roster totaled 24 points on 23.5% shooting.
Late in the game Brad Davison and Tyler Wahl were able to get more involved, but with a tough stretch of games upcoming, the Wisconsin staff would be wise to continue to work towards getting the ball into the hands of Trice, Potter or Davis as often as possible. Good things tend to occur on the offensive end when it happens.
Build the whole damn plane out of Davis, Trice and Potter the rest of the year.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 22, 2021
No. 2: Turnovers and free throws
Slight improvements in shooting could have easily be highlighted here, but one of the primary reasons for the Badgers better display of offense (at times) was the team’s ability to take advantage of Northwestern turnovers.
In the first half, Northwestern recorded six turnovers in the final 10 minutes that were instrumental in jump-starting the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers parlayed those turnovers into 12 points, coinciding with 7-0 UW run that completely shifted momentum.
In the second half it was more of the same, as Wisconsin took advantage of the Wildcats misfortunes to finish with 21 points off of 14 total turnovers.
Also of note Wisconsin was much better at not only attacking the rim strong and drawing foul calls, but they also made their free throws. In total Wisconsin made 13-of-15 from the charity stripe to give the offense a nice added boost.
Micah Potter back in pic.twitter.com/3TvMSr6x9U— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 22, 2021
No. 3: Carter Gilmore sighting
With Trevor Anderson still out with an upper body injury, and Tyler Wahl sitting on the bench with two fouls in the first half, the Badgers turned to walk-on freshman Carter Gilmore.
The Arrowhead product recorded a career-high five minutes off the bench, and gave Greg Gard some timely help.
With the timeline on Trevor Anderson’s return still up in the air, and a lack of scholarship guard depth on the roster, it appears as though Gilmore (a 6-foot-7 forward) has gained the trust of the coaching staff if needed and it is a big development in terms of the rotation.
At this point Gilmore will not likely be called upon to play major minutes this season, but the fact that he earned minutes as a true freshman is a positive sign for him in the future.
Carter Gilmore— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 22, 2021
Up next: The Badgers will have some extended rest before welcoming the red-hot Illinois Fighting Illini to the Kohl Center on Saturday. The game will be aired on ESPN at 1 p.m. CST.