clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Badgers cruise past Jacksonville State behind strong games from Tyler Wahl, Steven Crowl

The Badgers bigs were the formula for success on Thursday.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers took on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Thursday, cruising past in a 75-60 victory behind the strong performances from big men Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl.

It was an extremely physical matchup, which ultimately led to 28 free throws for Wisconsin in the victory, of which they made 19.

The win improved the Badgers’ record to 8-3 on the season with just one game remaining in 2023.

1st Half

Tyler Wahl came out of the gates firing, scoring Wisconsin’s first eight points on tough contested layups on the inside. Steven Crowl continued the attack inside, tacking on another 7 points. The first 15 points for the Badgers came inside the paint, as did 26 points of Wisconsin’s 37 first-half points.

Combined with the inside scoring, Wisconsin did a great job of hitting the glass on the offensive and the defensive boards. The Badgers held a +7 rebound differential and had eight offensive rebounds that lead to a total of 11 second-chance points compared to Jacksonville State’s 2 in the first 20 minutes.

Off the bench, John Blackwell and Nolan Winter played tough defense and each hit a three. Interestingly enough as well, Connor Essegian did not see the floor at all in the first. It seems to be that Blackwell and McGee took his minutes this half.

As the season progresses, Blackwell is continuing to grow into his role on this team. Defensively, we saw him continue to pressure the ball handler and play with the necessary heart and passion.

With Wisconsin winning the battle inside and on the glass, the game seemed to be a blowout, especially after a 12-2 run that put the Badgers up 27-13, but Jacksonville State was resilient. The guard duo of Marcellus Brigham Jr. and KyKy Tandy combined for 14 points to cut down the Wisconsin lead to 3 with three and a half minutes to go.

But, Wahl and A.J. Storr were able to hold off the Gamecocks hopes of a first half comeback with a 7-0 scoring run to finish the half.

Wahl led the team in scoring with 14 and Crowl came second with 9. The forward tandem executed the Wisconsin inside gameplan to perfection, putting the Badgers on top of the Gamecocks 38-30 at the end of the first half.

2nd Half

The Gamecocks started the second half strong with back to back buckets, cutting the lead to four within the first minute, but once again, the Badgers went on another scoring run, putting them atop Jacksonville State 44-34.

Wisconsin continued to apply pressure inside, feeding their bigs and letting Storr drive his way to the basket.

Storr was perfect from the field in the second with 8 points on 2/2 field goals and 4/4 from free throws.

Storr’s athletic ability and jelly moves were once again on full display, however; Storr went 0/2 from deep and did not attempt a three in the second. Granted, there was no need for him to shoot as Wisconsin was just eating in the paint, but adding the outside shooting element would make this offense quite unstoppable.

As a team, the Badgers only hit five threes on 16 attempts for a 31 percent success rate. Entering conference play, getting the shooters into a rhythm will be key to making a push for the Big Ten Championship.

Crowl ended the night with 19 points, 10 of those coming in the second half. He continued to hit the offensive glass and get his shot in the post, at one point it looked like Crowl was just toying around with the Jacksonville State bigs.

Blackwell continued his great game, scoring another four points in the second with a +8 in the box score. He finished with a team high +18 in the box score. The intangibles and basketball sense from Blackwell are showing as he continues to learn Greg Gard’s system.

On the other hand, Essegian looks to be somewhat in the dog house after today’s game. Essegian was subbed in early this half, but was immediately taken out after a bad defensive play which led to a wide open layup. Not seeing the court until the game was out of hand, Essegian could not really get any rhythm going, but did end up getting a great corner three.

The Badgers ended up winning the game 75-60, with 40 of those 75 points coming in the paint. Winning key battles inside and their physical rough defense pushed the Badgers to their great play, which will be important to continue when they host Chicago State, who just beat Northwestern, next weekend.