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Wisconsin men’s basketball: three things that stood out against Iowa

A look back at the Badgers big conference win over Iowa.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON — The No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers were able to win their fourth game in a row on Thursday night, taking down Iowa 87-78 at the Kohl Center. The game represented the only matchup between the Badgers and Hawkeyes this season, but most importantly gave Greg Gard’s team another big conference win with Big Ten play ramping up.

Let’s dig into a trio of takeaways from the Wisconsin victory.

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Star power

The matchup between Keegan Murray of Iowa and Johnny Davis of Wisconsin brought a ton of national attention to their contest on Thursday night. Well, it lived up to the hype.

Coming into the game Brandon Harrison of UW Communications shared that there were 18 NBA scouts in attendance to see the two players who are neck in neck for the top spot in the country for scoring, and the two standouts put on a show.

Davis had 19 points and seven rebounds at halftime, including a trio of three-point makes. Murray was also impressive, as the fellow sophomore added 11 points and three rebounds. In the end, Murray wound up with the higher scoring output by a point, but Davis not only led his team to the win, but he also added four more rebounds and dished out five assists.

Murray and Davis are two of the very best in the Big Ten (and the country), and they proved that on Thursday night.

No. 2: Glass cleaners

The Badgers have not been the most physically imposing team this year inside given their inexperience in the front court. Wisconsin was a far more aggressive and physical team inside than Iowa though throughout the game. Where it was most visible was in the rebounding department.

The Badgers cleaned up on the offensive glass with 15 rebounds and 18 second chance points, while also out-rebounding Iowa 43 to 26 overall for the game. In a game that was a fairly high scoring affair and aligned with Iowa’s tempo, Wisconsin did a great job of crashing the boards as a team and taking advantage of the extra possessions. With both teams shooting at a high percentage, the Badgers took five more shots and those additional opportunities proved to be instrumental for the Badgers in the win.

No. 3: Wahl’d up

Johnny Davis was exceptional once again, but the Badgers received double-digit scoring help from all five starters. Brad Davison added 18, Steven Crowl chipped in 12, and Chucky Hepburn got in on the action with 11 as well.

Iowa v Wisconsin
Wahl stuffing Murray at the rim.
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Tyler Wahl, however, was the player that really stood out in the game in my eyes, and he played a critical role in how the game unfolded for the Badgers. The junior forward was tasked with guarding Keegan Murray for a large chunk of the contest, and he was active on both ends of the court. Wahl’s free throw shooting was subpar, but he not only did a good job defending on one of the best scorers in the entire country for most of the game but he also hit the boards hard and came up with some timely scoring for the Badgers.

For the game Wahl finished with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor and also contributed nine rebounds (three of which came on the offensive glass). Additionally, Wahl added two assists, two steals, and a block to stuff the stat sheet. Against one of the better big men in the conference Wahl played extremely well, and did a lot of the dirty work on Thursday night.

Up next: The Badgers will take their talents on the road for a matchup with the Maryland Terrapins on Sunday. Tip time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and it will be aired on Big Ten Network.