It was a grind for all 40 minutes, but the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers were able to defeat another high-level mid major team Tuesday night with a 77-63 win over the Loyola Ramblers.
Senior guards Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice led the Badgers in scoring with 17 each, though the whole team was forced to contribute against a solid Rambler defense. Wisconsin’s big men, senior forwards Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers put up 13 and 8 points respectively, while freshman guard Johnny Davis came off the bench to add another 12.
Wisconsin shot a blisteringly hot 10-18 from the 3-point line on the night, at one point hitting 9-15 from deep while the game was a little closer. Six different Badgers hit from three on the night, including three from Potter.
“We like to play with five guys on the floor who can shoot from 3-point range at all times,” Potter said after the game. “Our three point shooting helped us out a lot today, it opened up the game and allowed some of our guys driving lanes inside.”
Loyola plays essentially the same slow swing offense that Wisconsin has run for years, relying on off-ball movement and steady defense to win games. The Ramblers had wiped the floor with all of its opponents coming into this matchup, winning by an average of 25 points per game.
However with possessions at a premium in this matchup Loyola was sloppy with the ball, committing 14 turnovers during the course of the game compared to just four for Wisconsin.
“[Loyola] is a really good team, they can put you in some pretty precocious situations,” head coach Greg Gard said. “We need to keep growing and getting more consistent, but there were a lot of positives out there tonight.”
Like in the game against Rhode Island, Wisconsin got into some foul trouble early on in the second half with Potter, Reuvers and Wahl all picking up their third fouls. That opened the game up for Loyola’s senior forward Cam Krutwig to make an impact offensively.
The 6’9” 250 pound senior was able to impose himself in the paint against the Badgers backup big men in the second, putting up 11 of his 19 points and 3 of his 5 rebounds in the half. Potter and Reuvers were held to just a combined 6-16 from the floor all night.
“[Krutwig] is a big body first of all,” Potter said. “The stats aren’t showing up as much this year but he’s also a terrific passer, and is great around the rim. I think he has a really good chance at winning MVP [of the Missouri Valley Conference].”
Johnny Davis shined bright again against Loyola, putting together 12 points, five rebounds and a couple assists on 5-10 shooting from the field. At one point in the second Davis stopped an 11-4 run by the Ramblers with a couple of quick buckets, including this fast break eurostep around Loyola’s Braden Norris.
“We started off a little slow today, so I just came in and tried to give a little energy on both ends of the floor,” Davis said after the game. “I know that I’m athletic and bouncy off the floor, so I try to use that.”
The Badgers will look to fix some of their sloppy play before Saturday's top 25 clash against No. 23 Louisville in what I’m pretty sure is technically still the Big Ten/ACC Conference Challenge. The Big Ten leads ACC teams 6-5 in the series.
Tip off is set for 11 a.m. in Madison on Saturday.