It was a high-scoring affair in the first half, with the Badgers trailing 43-35 after 20 minutes, but Wisconsin shot just 41 percent, compared to Tennessee’s 50 percent from the field, in the loss.
Here are three quick takeaways from the Badgers 80-70 loss to Tennessee.
Coming into the game, I felt this one would be a matchup decided by the transfers, as the Volunteers brought in two key players in Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey, while the Badgers added A.J. Storr to their rotation.
And, in a way, it was game between the transfers, with Tennessee prevailing behind Knecht’s 24 points on 8/5 shooting.
Storr had 17 points as well, but on 7/20 shooting, while connecting on just 2/7 of his three pointers.
Storr looked for his shot early, but just couldn’t connect consistently in the loss, missing a number of shots at the end of the game with the Badgers trailing.
Meanwhile, the Volunteers called on Knecht’s number, who delivered on a few occasions to seal the game for Tennessee.
Additionally, Gainey added 10 points and two three-pointers off the bench, while having a plus-minus of 9, the second-best on his team to only Knecht.
Last season, the Badgers struggled at the free throw line, which led to some of their issues in scoring points.
In the opener, the Badgers got to the line 30 times, hitting 21 of their shots for a 70 percent clip.
Well, it was much worse on Friday, as the Badgers got to the line 23 times, but only converted 14 of their opportunities for a 60.8 percent clip.
Tyler Wahl made just two of his seven free throws in the loss, with a few of the misses coming down the stretch.
Overall, the Badgers missed six free throws in the last six minutes of the game in a poor shooting performance at the line.
The Badgers have a desire to be more aggressive in going to the rim this season, which will allow players to get to the free throw line, but those opportunities have to be converted at a higher clip.
The Badgers were likely going to need a well-rounded performance to win against Tennessee, and unfortunately, that didn’t occur.
Wisconsin shot just 6/23 from the line, driving their field goal percentage down to 41 percent.
It’s not like the Badgers didn’t have open looks; Wisconsin just couldn’t consistently connect from any spot on the court from behind the arc.
A.J. Storr and Max Klesmit both went 2/7 from three, while Chucky Hepburn connected on just 1/4 of his opportunities from distance.
The Badgers will have better shooting nights and still put up 70 points with a poor field goal percentage, but they’ll need to be better from beyond the arc with the shooters they have if they want to be a consistent threat.