Not even quite sure what to say about these games anymore. It has been the same shit for over a month and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it stopping until the season mercifully comes to an end. The No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers (16-10 overall, 10-9 Big Ten) lost to the No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers (17-8 overall, 12-6 Big Ten) 73-69 on Tuesday night in a foul-filled game.
Wisconsin, surprising long-time viewers, came out of the gate quickly and held an early advantage over Purdue, leading 13-5 after five minutes and 15-8 after 10 minutes. Mixed in there, however, were scoring droughts of four and three and a half minutes which allowed the Boilermakers to take their time clawing back into the game.
Purdue took the lead into halftime, albeit by a mere two points, and then kept Wisconsin at arm’s length for the second half with clutch free throw shooting and dominant play in the post.
Final at Mackey Arena— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) March 3, 2021
Battled all night long pic.twitter.com/zADGVJ6uoL
- Let’s get this out of the way first: the officiating did not, in any way, cost the Badgers this game. The officiating was bad for both teams and we should just be thankful that the game isn’t still going on as both teams were in the double bonus for, what seemed like, the entire second half.
- UW shot 16-of-21 from the free throw line, by the way. Not amazing, but better than their season average so that’s a positive!
- The Badgers also only turned the ball over six times and D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison combined to have an assist to turnover ratio of 7:1 while only sitting for a combined 7:12 of game action. Another positive!!
- They scored 69 points for the second straight game which is super nice.
- Wisconsin was 10-of-13 on shots in the paint and 8-of-10 on shots at the rim, both marked improvements from previous games and considering how poorly they shot from three maybe should have indicated a strategy shift?
- The Badgers held Purdue big man and one of the best players in the conference Trevion Williams in check (nine points, seven rebounds, three turnovers, four fouls) while also keeping sharp-shooter Sasha Stefanovic from hitting a single three (0-for-1 on the night, 47-of-112 on the season). Stefanovic, it should be mentioned, had eight assists.
- Now that I’m looking at all of these numbers more and more the Badgers played...kinda well. I am as shocked as the next guy to discover all of these positives, but the negatives from the game were really bad. First up, the three point shooting! It was freaking dreadful!! The Badgers shot 7-of-29 from long range, which is 24.1% and is their worst display since going 4-of-24 in the first loss to Illinois at the beginning of February. They shot 3-of-17 in the second half. I will not go back and watch this game again and I did not keep track during the game but I’d feel pretty confident in wagering that almost half of their three point misses came on uncontested or lightly contested looks. It’s almost like this whole entire team has the yips at the same time and not even Trice’s crazy performance to end the Illinois game on Sunday broke them out of it. They are proving to be a Not Good shooting team and have yet to try any other strategy to score points except Keep Bombing Away. I know shooters are supposed to shoot their way out of slumps but at this point...I don’t know, man.
- Wisconsin ran into a bit of bad luck as well. Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler entered the game shooting 21.8% from three point land and ended the game shooting 26.3% after going 3-for-3 from downtown.
- Massive Purdue freshman Zach Edey (7-foot-4, 285 pounds) ably filled in for the ineffectual Trevion Williams by scoring a career-high 21 points (8-of-11 shooting), grabbing seven rebounds (four offensive) and blocking one shot. Neither Nate Reuvers nor Micah Potter had any answers for Edey and the Badgers refused to regularly get Edey in situations on defense where he had to defend in space (see highlight below for what they should’ve done more often). Purdue outscored Wisconsin in the paint 36-20.
Fight to the finish, fellas!— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) March 3, 2021
Micah and Brad with some big-time buckets down the stretch
PUR 65, WIS 64 | 2:28 2Hpic.twitter.com/PN5mXsnEM8
- As far as individual performances for the Badgers, Brad Davison led the team with 15 points, Tyler Wahl led the team with 10 rebounds (six offensive) and D’Mitrik Trice led the way with four assists.
- Wisconsin had five players in double-figures: Davison with 15, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter all with 11 and Trice with 10. Usually with a balanced attack like that UW pulls out the win.
- Wahl’s 10 boards were impressive and his six offensive ones helped keep multiple possessions alive. He added seven points and two assists while also playing acceptable defense in 36 minutes (second most on the team).
- Reuvers was 5-of-10 from the field (0-of-3 from deep) and seemed to regain a little bit of confidence shooting the ball. He also had two blocks and played very well against Williams but, uh, not so much against Edey.
- I thought Potter, who only played 15 minutes due to foul trouble, played well defensively. He had one block and one steal and also seems to be figuring out where he’s supposed to be on pick and rolls. Did he struggle against Edey? Yes, everyone did, but overall Potter was good on defense.
- Ford looked better on offense but still couldn’t find his stroke from deep. It was definitely his best game in weeks as his 11 points was more than then nine points combined he’d scored in the last three games.
- After spending all of Tuesday championing Jonathan Davis for the starting lineup and more playing time he, uh, laid an egg against Purdue. Two points (1-of-4 shooting), two boards, no assists. Not a great day on the offensive end. He did have two blocked shots and stopped an in-bounds alley-oop headed towards Edey, so he was valuable on defense.
- Since we’ve kind of been pairing them up in this post so far, let’s look at the starting backcourt together here too. Trice and Davison shot a combined 6-of-22 (5-of-16 from three) while each pulling down three rebounds. They shot a combined 8-of-10 from the charity stripe too. I don’t know, they both played...fine.
- Badgers scored 1.11 PPP while the Boilermakers had 1.18 PPP.
#Badgers had a lot of chances to tie or take the lead down the stretch, but couldn't string together stops.— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 3, 2021
Of Purdue's final 18 possessions of the game, they scored on 15 of them.
Never during that span did UW get consecutive stops.
- Purdue is a pretty impressive team, tbqh, they have so many freshman playing prominent roles and Matt Painter has been able to integrate them into his existing system almost flawlessly. While Williams might decide to go pro (my rapid armchair analysis is that he won’t be a very good NBA player, if he makes it at all), if he doesn’t then literally every player who played last night will be back for the Boilers.