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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, January 21, 2022
Nigel Hayes

Nigel Hayes made the game-winning layup with 11.4 seconds to play in regulation as Wisconsin knocked off Villanova. 

Balanced offense, 3-point shooting power Badgers over Indiana in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals

WASHINGTON — D’Mitrik Trice didn’t sleep much before Wisconsin’s Big Ten Tournament game against Indiana Friday night. And when the freshman got off the bus and entered the Verizon Center Friday night, he said he felt a “different feeling” than he does before most games.

But any nerves that Trice had quickly subsided, as the young guard flourished in his 31 minutes of play. But Trice was far from the only productive Badger on the night, as five different Badgers scored in double figures in No. 24 Wisconsin’s (12-6 Big Ten, 24-8 overall) 70-60 victory over the Hoosiers (7-11, 18-15).

When senior forward Nigel Hayes picked up his second foul of the game just over four minutes in, Wisconsin was forced to make a major adjustment. Yet with Hayes off the floor for the remainder of the first half, the other Badger starters and Trice collectively rose to the occasion.

“The four other starters that had to play a couple extra minutes really played well,” redshirt senior Zak Showalter said. “They really played off of each other and made some big plays, and when [head coach Greg Gard] doesn’t have to worry about putting our workhorse back in the first half, that’s always a good showing for our bench and our whole team.”

Instead of folding, Wisconsin’s lead actually grew while Hayes rode the pine. With Hayes giving his teammates pointers from the bench, five Badgers scored at least five points in the first half. UW attacked the Hoosiers with a variety of lineups that senior forward Vitto Brown said were smaller and faster.

Wisconsin took a six-point lead into the locker room and allowed only five points in the final 7:58 of the half.

Hayes opened the scoring for Wisconsin in the second half, but over the next 19-plus minutes, he would add only two more points.

Senior guard Bronson Koenig scored eight points in the second half, while redshirt sophomore forward Ethan Happ added ten second half points of his own. Trice tacked on eight points and Showalter scored seven of his 12 points in the game’s final 20 minutes.

As Wisconsin flashed its depth on the offensive end, the Badgers continued to stifle Indiana on the defensive end.

“We’re starting to do this weird thing where we play well offensively and defensively,” Hayes said. “We haven’t really done that often so it’s kind of new to us, so hopefully we can keep that going.”

In recent weeks, Wisconsin has played smaller lineups, often featuring Koenig and Showalter alongside Trice in the backcourt, while playing two of Happ, Brown and Hayes in the frontcourt.

Gard said the smaller lineups helped their ball movement Friday night. UW finished with 15 assists, its most since Jan. 24 in an 82-55 blowout win over Penn State.

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Wisconsin extended its lead to 15 with 8:14 to play, but the Badgers needed to continue to make shots as Indiana refused to go away.

The Hoosiers cut UW’s lead to eight with 4:30 to go and then down to four with 1:21 left in the game. But a late 6-0 run by the Badgers gave them a comfortable 10-point victory.

“It feels really good to have everybody sharing the ball like we did,” Trice said. “And then knocking down shots and seeing everybody finally have a smile on their face really tells us how we should be playing.”

Koenig led the Badgers with 16 points, but four of his teammates weren’t far behind. Happ finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Trice scored 13, Showalter added 12, and Hayes chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds. Wisconsin shot 47.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three.

It was a selfless overall performance for the Badgers, barring one notable exception.

“[Trice] stole my rebound for my double-double, can you believe that?” Hayes said. “Nah, He did a great job. He did a tremendous job.”

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