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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Baylor NCAA Tournament game recap

Baylor’s suffocating defense and superior offense led the Bears to a clinical win over the Badgers in the round of 32.

Wisconsin v Baylor Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (18-13 overall, 10-10 Big Ten), coming off of arguably their best all around performance of the season against North Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, were back in action Sunday afternoon for a round two matchup with the top-seeded Baylor Bears.

Baylor was one of the best teams all regular season long and ranked as the best three-point shooting team in the country making 41.4% of their deep balls. Overall the Bears sported a 23-2 record, and also ranked in the top-10 in steals and points per game.

As a heavy underdog, Wisconsin came into the game with hopes to knock out the No. 1 seeded Bears at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the Badgers did not have the firepower to hold Baylor down. The Bears would earn the right to move on in the tournament with a 13-point win.

In the first few minutes of the game, the two teams would go on to feel each other out. By the first media timeout the score was all tied up at seven, as D’Mitrik Trice dished out two early assists.

Aleem Ford wound end a three minute scoring drought for the Badgers shortly thereafter, but Baylor would secure a three-point lead by the second media timeout behind five points off the bench from Matthew Mayer.

Another three minute span of not making a field goal by the Badgers would allow Baylor’s lead balloon to eight with 7:51 remaining in the first half. Baylor would maintain their lead into the next media timeout, with Nate Reuvers earning his second foul during the span.

Baylor would pour it on over the final few minutes of the first half, including a last second three to take a 42-29 lead into the half.

Early in the second half the Greg Gard would deploy his big lineup with Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, and Tyler Wahl all on the court together. The Badgers would trim the lead to 12 because of a 6-0 run with the trio on the court together.

Wisconsin would continue to chip away, and by the second media timeout Baylor’s lead was down to eight. The Badgers would continue to play better, and tightened the score to seven with 7:25.

A patented four minute scoring drought by Wisconsin however would allow Baylor to extend their advantage back to 10 with just over three minutes remaining.

Down the stretch Baylor would continue to pull away, and ultimately wound up winning by 13.

Notable stat lines:

  • Micah Potter —> 10 points (4-of-9 from the floor), 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks
  • Nate Reuvers —> 11 points (5-of-7 from the floor), four rebounds, one assist, one block
  • Davion Mitchell (Baylor) —> 16 points (6-of-8 from the floor), one rebound, eight assists
  • Matthew Mayer (Baylor) —> 17 points (5-of-12 from the floor), six rebounds, two steals

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Turnovers

Wisconsin came into their contest with Baylor averaging only nine turnovers per game. Baylor on the other hand came in averaging over 12.

In the first half, Baylor attacking defense flustered Wisconsin. The Badgers had nine first half turnovers that led to 12 points the other way. Seven of the team’s nine turnovers came from the combination of D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison and Micah Potter. Three of the team’s leaders.

Wisconsin v Baylor Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On the flipside, Baylor recorded only one turnover, and the Bears played phenomenally on both ends of the court in the same span.

In the second half the Badgers did a much better job of taking care of the ball, but Baylor’s 16 points off of 14 total turnovers was a huge reason for the final outcome.

No. 2: Easy buckets

Baylor made a living in the first half on fast break points (nine) and points in the points in the paint (20).

Wisconsin’s on ball defense was not up to snuff against the Bears, as Baylor was able to get to the rim far too often in the first half. Baylor had firm control of the game’s tempo and took advantage of easy interior scoring.

While Baylor had six layups and three dunks in the first half, the Badgers only had three combined. The net result was Wisconsin shooting over 55% from three, but still trailing by double-digits.

In the second half the Badgers did a much better job of going inside with their big lineup, and that completely swung points from the paint to a 26-26 wash for the game.

Unfortunately, Baylor was also uber efficient from three all game long. The Bears made 8-of-17 from deep, and every time Wisconsin would cut the deficit to single digits, Baylor had an answer.

No. 3: Guard play

Baylor has one of the best backcourts in the entire country. Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were absolute difference makers on both ends of the court against the Badgers, and they limited the Badgers offense.

D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison were unable to get going on the offensive end against the quicker guards of Baylor. Two nights after combining for 50 points against North Carolina, the Trice and Davison combined for only 20 points on 8-of-28 shooting (28.5%) and an uncharacteristic seven turnovers.

Wisconsin had consistently gone as their guards have played all year long, and in the biggest game of the year Baylor had the upper hand.

No. 4: Thank you seniors

The final minute of the game was dominated by the curtain call for Wisconsin’s seniors. The seven player senior group had a tremendous career together, including a regular season championship in 2019-2020, but unfortunately the final score did not go their way.

All seven players will have the option to come back for another season, and that will be one of the biggest questions this off-season.