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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Iowa recap, part II

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In a poorly officiated contest, the Badgers looked better than they have in a month but still came up short against the Hawkeyes.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of a two-game skid, the No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (16-11 overall, 10-10 B1G) attempted to break out of their funk, and finish off the regular season in style Sunday afternoon against the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes.

The Badgers fell to the Hawkeyes in the first matchup between the two teams by 15 at the Kohl Center, and unfortunately Wisconsin, who played far better on Sunday, came up just short in the rematch.

In the first five minutes of the game, the Badgers were able to snag an early 7-6 lead early on despite some poor shooting from three. However, Iowa was able to get hot and went on a 10-0 scoring run to push their advantage up to 20-9 in a hurry with just over 10:30 remaining in the first half.

Wisconsin cut into the deficit and pulled within seven points a few moments later behind some heady plays by Brad Davison. From there it was the Micah Potter and Luka Garza show, as the two big men went back and forth on the offensive end to lift their teams.

Over the final two and a half minutes Iowa was able to build on their lead to take a nine point advantage into halftime.

Some more strong play by Micah Potter, and a big three-point make by Aleem Ford, allowed the Badgers to pull within seven at the first media timeout of the second half to overcome some defensive rebounding struggles.

A quick 12-4 run would propel the Badgers into the lead with 11:41 remaining in the game, as the shots finally started to fall for Wisconsin.

Both teams would go on to exchange baskets for the better part of the next seven minutes as the game was all tied up at 60 points with just under four minutes remaining.

The final few minutes were a wild ride. Wisconsin and Iowa continued to go back and forth, but the game was completely gridlocked by the referees. In the end a handful of pivotal calls went Iowa’s way, and the Hawkeyes wound up winning 77-73.

Notable stat lines:

  • Micah Potter —> 23 points (9-of-12 from the floor), one rebound, two assists
  • Brad Davison —> 14 points (5-of-10 from the floor), five rebounds, four assists
  • Jordan Bohannon (Iowa) —> 16 points (4-of-12 from the floor), six rebounds, eight assists
  • Luke Garza (Iowa) —> 21 points (9-of-18 from the floor), 16 rebounds, two assists

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Offensive swings

Wisconsin once again struggled from three-point range in the first half despite having some wide open looks. The Badgers did a great job of moving the ball around, and all of their three point attempts came in the natural flow of the offense. However, they only connected on two of their 11 attempts from behind the arc, and struggled to make mid-range jumpers as well.

In the second half though Wisconsin was able to get into a rhythm and went on a huge run to take the lead about midway through the half. At that point the Badgers were shooting 69% from the floor and were finally seeing shots fall.

The Badgers made 7-of-13 from three in the second half, and did a tremendous job of going inside and scoring in the paint as well. For the game, Wisconsin added 32 points in the paint and looked much better on the offensive end than the past few games.

No. 2: Fouls

While Wisconsin hitting shots was noteworthy, the true story of the game was unfortunately officiating.

Three different Badgers had two fouls in the first half, as D’Mitrik Trice and Tyler Wahl missed large chunks of the first 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Jonathan Davis also recorded two questionable offensive fouls, but Greg Gard let the freshman play with those fouls looming.

As previously noted, Wisconsin routinely went inside to score, but were unable to get to the free throw line at all in the first half as Iowa didn’t record a foul until over 13 minutes of the game had gone by. For the game the Badgers would make all eight of their free throws, as leading scorer Trice battled fouls all afternoon.

Trice was called for his fourth foul with roughly eight minutes remaining in the game, and was therefore stuck on the bench for key minutes in the second half, as was Tyler Wahl who had his fourth foul with six minutes to play.

In the second half whistles dominated the game, as seemingly every possession was dictated by referees. The game was hard fought and there were seemingly monitor checks every few minutes, as Bo Boroski and crew were active.

When the game mattered most, the refs called a questionable fifth foul on Trice that gave Iowa three free throws, and a hook and hold call on Brad Davison to ultimately shift the game completely down the stretch. There were nearly 10 monitor checks in the game, and the officials completely ruined everything late.

No. 3: Improved play

Regardless of the final score, Wisconsin played with heart and put together arguably one of their best performances of the season on the road. Iowa is one of the best teams in the entire country, and Wisconsin was a few plays/calls away from stealing a victory.

While consolation prizes don’t mean anything in sports, the Badgers shot the ball much better and played with passion and excitement that had been lacking over the past month or so.

With regular season records out the window in tournament season, the Badgers can hopefully harness that energy to make a run in March.

Up next: The Big Ten Tournament will kick off this upcoming week, as the Badgers will try to get hot and make a run in postseason play.