Badgers overcome rebounding woes, foul trouble to score marquee road win over Iowa
Junior guard Brevin Pritzl was forced into action due to foul trouble against Iowa and responded with 12 points and four rebounds in the win.Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger
Wisconsin’s Big Ten revenge tour began in style Friday night with a 72-66 victory over Iowa on the road to begin conference play. Here are the major takeaways from the encouraging victory:
Lack of size continues to hurt on the boards
Last time out, the Badgers were outrebounded by NC State. Iowa was dominant in that category Friday, especially on the offensive glass. The Hawkeyes gathered 11 offensive rebounds and turned them into 15 second-chance points.
Since the announced departure of Alex Illikainen, Wisconsin has frequently used small lineups, often sending out three guards. Outside of Ethan Happ and Nate Reuvers, only Charles Thomas provides size and rebounding ability with big men Taylor Currie, Joe Hedstrom and Owen Hamilton all redshirting this year. While the small lineup has led to more speed and offensive versatility, it may continue to hamper the Badgers on the glass.
Foul trouble forces Badgers to adapt
Iowa reached the double bonus with relative ease in both halves as Wisconsin was called for 24 personal fouls. This forced head coach Greg Gard to go to his bench early; Brevin Pritzl, Charles Thomas and Tai Strickland all spelled starters in the game. Happ fouled out with 45.8 seconds left to go, leading the Badgers with little depth.
In addition to Happ’s five fouls, Reuvers and Aleem Ford both committed four. Khalil Iverson, Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice each had three. Iowa, one of the top free-throw shooting teams in the nation, finished 14-19 from the line.
Pritzl still an important piece
After failing to score a single point in the Bahamas and playing just 12 minutes against NC State, Brevin Pritzl rebounded (figuratively and literally) in a big way against Iowa. His 12 points marked his best performance of the season against a major conference opponent, and his four boards tied for second best on the team.
Pritzl has seen his role dwindle somewhat this season with Brad Davison playing an off-ball role and Kobe King returned from injury; his minutes were down to 17 per game (before the Iowa game) from 29.3 last season. Still, Friday’s game was a reminder of how pivotal his experience and shooting can be in tough conference games.
Badgers show they can win without playing great
Wisconsin struggled to shoot the ball effectively for the majority of the night, and ended the game with six players committing three fouls or more. But in a hostile environment against the No. 14 team in the country, it still managed to win.
The Badgers held the Hawkeyes to just 25 percent shooting from the three-point line and collected five steals. Despite being outrebounded, the Badgers played smart, fundamentally sound basketball throughout, always giving themselves a shot to hang around. In the end, the were able to pull the win off, and proved they’re more than capable of winning a bit ugly.
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