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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Three quick takeaways vs Northwestern

The Badgers lost 54-52 against Northwestern. What were the reasons for the loss?

The Wisconsin Badgers lost to the Northwestern Wildcats in a 54-52 game on Sunday evening,

With the loss to Northwestern, the Badgers capped off a 1-1 week where they also defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in a 65-60 game.

Here are the quick takeaways from Wisconsin’s loss on Sunday.

Ball Movement

The Wisconsin offense didn’t have the best execution early on, but it wasn’t for a lack of ball movement.

The Northwestern Wildcats looked to double the Badger big men whenever they touched the ball in the paint, which led to several kick-outs to open shooters, although Wisconsin wasn’t hitting at a high rate.

Still, with their defensive efforts, they churned enough offense, hitting four three-pointers via the kick-out action in the first half, keeping the game at 26-23 going into halftime.

However, there’s a clear difference when the starters are on the court versus when the bench is sprinkled in.

Each of the three guards in the starting five, Chucky Hepburn, Connor Essegian, and Max Klesmit, aren’t reluctant to shoot the ball when it comes their way, which creates good looks on kick-outs, even when shots aren’t falling.

But, when the backups enter, that isn’t necessarily the case, as Carter Gilmore and Jordan Davis aren’t good shooters, which means that open shots are passed up, forcing the others on the court to create as the shot clock is winding down, leading to tougher attempts.

Wisconsin saw much better action in the second half with kick-outs, as they hit 4/7 of their three-pointers over the first 10 minutes of the period: two from Connor Essegian and two from Chucky Hepburn, which was their main source of offense.

Max Klesmit

Max Klesmit’s presence was very valuable defensively for the Badgers, as he provided a second defender alongside Chucky Hepburn to guard Northwestern’s duo of Boo Buie and Chase Audige.

Klesmit was primarily assigned to Audige, who finished with 11 points on 5/13 shooting.

Additionally, two of Audige’s buckets came off pick-and-roll actions where the defending big man didn’t step up in time to contest the jump shot.

While Klesmit didn’t provide much offensively, scoring just six points on 2/6 shooting while turning the ball over three times, the Wofford transfer kept the Badgers in the game with his defense on Audige.

Chucky Hepburn’s late-game shooting

Chucky Hepburn continued his trend of poor shot selection late in games, which occurred, once again, as the Badgers looked to close out the game against Northwestern.

Hepburn took Wisconsin’s last four shots, making just one, and was clearly looking to score when touching the ball late, isolating against his defender, while taking tough shots.

The Wisconsin guard was vital to their success throughout the game with a solid performance, but once again struggled as the game came to a close.

If Wisconsin is to close out close games, they absolutely need more ball movement and less “hero ball” from their starting guard, especially with how the ball was moving in the second half for good looks.