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Wisconsin men’s basketball: three things that stood out from the road win over Purdue

Um...Johnny Davis is REAL good.

Wisconsin v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team came into Monday night’s matchup at Purdue having not won in Mackey Arena since 2014. While the game was back and forth all night long, the Badgers were able to steal a huge win on the road in conference play.

Let’s look back at what stood out from the five-point conference win.

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Defensive intensity

Wisconsin’s defense was less than stellar in their previous two games against both Nicholls and Illinois State. Going up against one of the top offenses in college basketball, the Badgers returned to early season form on the defensive end.

The team’s on-ball defense was tremendous and defensive rotations were much crisper. Wisconsin forced six turnovers in the first half and limited Purdue’s opportunities to get out and run. In fact, during the first twenty minutes, Purdue had zero fast-break points. Greg Gard’s group did a phenomenal job of slowing the game down and clamping down on the defensive end most of the game.

When the Badgers play defense as they did against Purdue they are one of the best teams in the country. For the game, the Boilermakers finished with their second-lowest scoring total of the season and only mustered six points in transition. Wisconsin’s defensive effort played a key role in the win.

No. 2: Inside presence

Purdue came into the contest with two of the best big men in the conference. In the first half, Wisconsin was able to limit post touches for the Boilermakers as the Badgers had an 18-4 advantage in the paint. Even with multiple post players in foul trouble, Purdue was unable to get much going inside on the Wisconsin defense. On the flip side, the Badgers did most of their damage inside during the first half as they struggled shooting outside. Credit to Gard and players for attacking inside with the outside shot not falling.

In the second half though, Purdue would get hot from behind the three-point arc early before pounding the ball inside with Zach Edey after Chris Vogt fouled out. Because of foul trouble, the Badgers had no answer for the 7-foot-4 center who added 19 points in the second stanza.

For the game, Wisconsin managed to match Purdue with 28 points in the paint despite having Vogt, Steven Crowl, and Tyler Wahl all fouling out of the game. While Edey was able to eat in the second half, the fact that the Badgers played a physical brand of defense inside made life tough on Purdue’s bigs all night long.

No. 3: Johnny Davis

The Badgers have had a wild past month with injuries and health concerns forcing Gard to shuffle his lineup nightly. Against Purdue, the team finally had all of their players available to play, and boy was it needed considering the foul trouble that the Badgers found themselves in throughout the game. However, the play of Johnny Davis was absolutely the difference in West Lafayette.

Davis put the team on his back for long stretches of the game and finished with a career-high 37 points and 14 rebounds. He was absolutely the best player on the court and once again displayed why he is an All-American candidate at this juncture. At this point, it is hard to come up with new things to say about the sophomore guard because he just continues to get better and better as the season progresses.

Davis is a special athlete that has taken his game to a completely different stratosphere this season. If the Badgers continue to play good defense and get outputs like this from their star they will be tough to beat in conference play. What an unreal performance from Davis in a hostile venue against one of the best teams in the country.

Up next: Wisconsin will look to continue their winning streak on Thursday against Iowa at the Kohl Center. Tip time is set for 8 p.m. CT and the game will be aired on FS1.