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Wisconsin men’s basketball: three things that stood out in the road win against Northwestern

A look back at what stood out from the Badgers six-point win.

Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers came into the game in Evanston looking to win their seventh straight game and grab a share of first place in the Big Ten. In a tough game, the Badgers were able to exit with a six-point win.

Let’s look back at three things that stood out!

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Backcourt bros

The Badgers backcourt came to play on Tuesday night. The trio of Johnny Davis, Brad Davison and Chucky Hepburn combined for 31 of the team’s 41 first-half points and were a big reason the Badgers held a lead at the half.

In the second half, it was more of the same, though all five starters finished in double-figures for Wisconsin. Davis, Davison and Hepburn combined for roughly two-thirds of the team’s offense and also shot the ball well from three.

While the scoring outputs by Davis and Davison were not all surprising, the play of Hepburn specifically jumped out on the offensive end. The true freshman was held scoreless against Ohio State in the game prior, so it was nice to see him respond with a solid performance against Northwestern. Hepburn is far from a finished product offensively, but he has put together a strong freshman campaign so far. Also, that three-quarters court buzzer-beater was not only fun to watch, but also a big play heading into halftime.

No. 2: Efficiency from three

After shooting 43.5% from three against Ohio State, the Wisconsin Badgers carried the hot shooting over to Evanston. While the team was far less reliant on three-point attempts, they were very efficient, going 6-of-8 from three in the first half, and 9-of-17 overall.

The Badgers finished the game shooting 52.9% from deep, and with Northwestern’s length bothering Wisconsin side at times, the three-ball proved to be a major differentiator. The Wildcats only shot 35% from three-point range on 20 attempts, which ultimately played a key role in the game.

It’s hard to imagine that the Badgers will regularly shoot above 50% from behind the arc, and make six-straight attempts each game, but back-to-back games with solid three-point shooting is a nice step for this team.

No. 3: Charity stripe + bench points

In a back-and-forth game without a ton of defense, one of the major areas that helped the Badgers was the free-throw line. Wisconsin got to the line 26 times compared to only eight free throw attempts for Northwestern. Wisconsin was +14 on points from the charity stripe in a six-point game. In fact, the Wildcats had more field goals than the Badgers for the game. Free throws and threes made the difference on Tuesday night. Wisconsin missed some crucial free throws late in the game to keep Northwestern in it, but their ability to get to the line was notable.

One facet of the game that Northwestern had a major advantage in was bench points. The Badgers only had four points from their bench in the game, while the Wildcats got 22. A win is a win, especially on the road in the Big Ten, but hopefully, the Wisconsin bench can respond later this week against Michigan State.

Up next: The Badgers will look to knock off Michigan State on Friday night at the Kohl Center. Tip time is set for 8 p.m. CT, and the game will be aired on FS1.