The Wisconsin Badgers dropped a disappointing road loss to the Northwestern Wildcats 66-63 Monday.
Whether they like it or not, a quick turnaround means the Badgers (4-4 Big Ten, 12-6 overall) can make everyone forget that disappointment if they can beat the Maryland Terrapins (3-5, 12-7) Wednesday night.
UW already beat the then-ranked No. 13 Terps at home this season in December, notching a 64-59 win in the Badgers’ Big Ten opener.
The Badgers had a balanced attack that night: sophomore Chucky Hepburn led the way with 13 points, but all six players who scored that night had at least seven points.
On that list of scorers included junior guard Max Klesmit, who will likely miss the game against Maryland. Klesmit — injured in the Badgers’ game against the Nittany Lions — got hurt just as senior Tyler Wahl came back, meaning Wisconsin played short-handed again in the loss to Northwestern.
One positive from that contest was the play of junior Jordan Davis. Davis — who was starting in place of the injured Klesmit — had a career-high 15 points and went for 6-for-10 from the field including 3-for-6 from behind the arc.
But that was one of Wisconsin’s lone offensive bright spots. UW as a team was 10-for-31 behind the arc and shot an abysmal 56% from the free throw line. Add that with going 8-for-14 on layups and multiple lengthy scoring droughts — we see these every game enough to make it feel like, oh, it’s time for Wisconsin’s patented scoring drought — meant Northwestern came out on top.
Even with the Wildcats being depleted with injuries — Julian Roper was ruled out after an ankle injury and starter Ty Berry missed some time — and the rust from COVID-19 protocols halting basketball operations, Boo Buie scored 20 points and had his way, especially in the second half. And even with a potential lack of depth from the layoff, the Wildcat bench outscored the Badgers’ 14-7.
The question of “who can produce for the Badgers” outside the starting five was answered by Connor Essegian’s play. But with Essegian now becoming a starter due to recent injuries, it has become evident UW lacks some other consistent options for scoring off the bench. While junior Carter Gilmore has shown improvement, sophomore Marcus Ilver has added some OK minutes, and guards Kamari McGee and Isaac Lindsay look not totally lost, that’s not a ringing endorsement.
Maybe the postponement of the Northwestern game through the team off rhythm. Maybe Wahl is still shaking off the rust of the ankle injury. But one thing is clear: Wisconsin is inconsistent so far in conference play and needs to bounce back soon.
Ready or not, the Badgers’ less than 48-hour turnaround is done, and Wisconsin will be playing basketball again tonight. Their game against Maryland tips off at 6:00 p.m. Central on Big Ten Network.