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Wisconsin men’s basketball: three things that stood out in UW’s win over Colgate

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It wasn’t pretty, but ferocious defense in the second half propelled Wisconsin to the next round in the NCAA Tournament.

Colgate v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It took a while for the 3-seed Wisconsin Badgers to get going, but they eventually imposed their will on a game 14-seeded Colgate Raiders team on Friday night, winning 67-60 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. All-American Johnny Davis captained the ship for UW, scoring 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and suffocating defense by, well, everyone in a Wisconsin uniform sealed the deal for the Badgers.

Let’s take a look at three things that stood out from Wisconsin’s NCAA Tournament win.

No. 1: defense in the second half of the second half

Everybody knew Colgate could shoot the rock. It was literally all I thought about this entire week. I just knew some stupid nerd who couldn’t get into an Ivy so went to a school that sounds like one would take a freaking flamethrower to the Badgers from beyond the arc. And, well, in the first four minutes of the second half, Tucker Richardson was that stupid nerd.

Richardson drilled three three pointers in the first three and a half minutes after halftime, and then made a fourth just over a minute later from close to half court to give the Raiders a three point lead. Colgate started out the second half making six of their first seven long range attempts and a classic Good Shooting Underdog Gets Steph Curry Hot From Deep upset was brewing.

After Colgate big man Jeff Woodward made his and-one free throw to give the Raiders a four point lead with 10:40 to go in the game, Wisconsin flipped a switch. For the rest of the game, Colgate did not get one single second to breath on offense without a UW player in their freaking jersey.

Davis, Brad Davison, Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl were all flying around on defense, battling through screens, contesting every shot attempt and running Colgate’s shooters off the three point line.

While the Badgers offense wasn’t exactly humming along like a well-tuned sports car, they did still rip off a 10-0 run, aka a Kill Shot, which was capped by a Davis breakaway dunk which sent the highly partisan crowd into hysterics. After that opening second half salvo of threes from the Raiders, Colgate only attempted three more and missed each of them.

No. 2: Ben Carlson on the offensive glass

I don’t know how vocally I’ve been critical of Carlson’s play online, but every time he comes into the game I do mutter vulgarities to myself at home. I haven’t been impressed with him this season and I really hope he makes a big leap next year, but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about his effort on the offensive glass in the first half of this game.

Carlson played 8:42 in the first half, scored four points (2-of-3 shooting) and snared three rebounds, all on the offensive side of the court. His first o-board led to a Wahl hook shot that made the score 9-6 in the early going. His second one also resulted in a Wahl shot, but this one didn’t go in and his third offensive rebound ended in him just taking it back up for two points of his own.

Wisconsin’s bench has been underwhelming all season, but if Carlson can provide a little spark like he did against Colgate and give Wahl a breather, that’s a big development for the Badgers.

No. 3: Johnny Davis during winning time

This was a weird game for Davis. He definitely started out tense, as did the whole team to be fair, and forced some bad shots before finally making one 10:31 into the game. He never let his poor shooting get in the way of his rebounding and defense, but Wisconsin’s offense was, uh, not good in the first half against Colgate.

The second half was a different story entirely. Davis poured in 17 points while never coming off the court once. He added five rebounds, an assist and a steal for good measure while making all five of his free throw attempts and draining two three pointers. His defense was also superb and, he even cracked a smile after his breakaway dunk.

Colgate v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Davis’ ankle might still be bothering him, and it looked like he tweaked it in the second half after a collision with a Colgate player, or the added pressure of playing a tournament game in front of your home fans bothered him, but when it was time to win the basketball game, Davis was front and center, doing the winning.

Up next: the Badgers take on No. 11 seed Iowa State on Sunday in the Round of 32. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:10 PM CT on TNT.