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Wisconsin Men’s Basketball: Badgers pull away from Lehigh despite slow start

It wasn’t pretty to start, but the Badgers came alive as the game progressed.

NCAA Basketball: Lehigh at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin men’s basketball was back in action on Thursday night as they took on the Lehigh Mountainhawks at the Kohl Center. The Badgers got off to a slow start but came alive in the second half to secure the win in a strong fashion.

To start the contest Wisconsin came out very slow and struggled to get anything to fall. Things were especially messy in the turnover department for Wisconsin, but that was compounded by eight straight missed shots on the offensive end. Simply put, it was ugly for most of the 1st half. There really isn’t any way to sugarcoat it. The Badgers had a nearly seven-minute stretch of scoreless basketball which allowed Lehigh to push out to a 13-5 lead midway through the first.

However, Wisconsin began to find its footing later on as the Badgers got on a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead due to two threes from guard Jordan Davis. Despite that, Lehigh wouldn’t go away as the Mountainhawks knocked down multiple shots to reclaim the lead over the course of the next few minutes.

Lehigh seemed to knock down nearly every shot, but the Badgers kept warm as well as they knocked down multiple three-pointers in the latter minutes of the first half. Heading into the half, Lehigh would hold the lead 32-31 just as I predicted! (sorta)

In the second half, Wisconsin would start slow again as turnovers bit them to give Lehigh a spark. After a Greg Gard timeout, Wisconsin started to really settle. A pair of Connor Essegian threes back to back seemed to give the Badgers the boost they needed. The Badgers then knocked down another three to really start to widen the gap.

Eventually, Wisconsin was able to push the lead to ten, and then a pair of threes from Max Klesmit and Steven Crowl seemed to really break the game open as the lead quickly swelled from 10 to 18 in what felt like a matter of seconds. From there Wisconsin went to the subs and coasted to a 22-point win over Lehigh.

Overall, it wasn’t the best game Wisconsin has played on either side but it was good to see the Badgers really put this game away in the second half. It was later than anyone of us wanted to see it put away, but it’s better than having a nail-biter for the entire game. A win is a win but Greg Gard and company will need to continue to clean things up before getting into the full Big Ten schedule.