The No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers (12-3 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) played suffocating defense in the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats (6-8 overall, 3-7 Big Ten) to pull away with a big 68-52 victory at the Kohl Center.
Despite shooting nearly half their shots from three point range for the second straight game, Wisconsin was able to muster enough offense to beat Northwestern soundly, almost right from the tip.
Four Badgers found themselves in double figures, Tyler Wahl led Wisconsin with a career high 14 points on 5-7 shooting — D’Mitrik Trice (12), Brad Davison (11) and Micah Potter (10) rounded out the rest of the top four scorers.
“We can have a lot of guys that can average 10-12 points, which is what makes us so dangerous,” Trice said after the game. “If a team can’t focus on one individual guy because everyone else can score from inside or outside, it makes us that much better.”
After putting in a ton of work to improve his shooting touch this summer, Wahl is starting to see it pay off on the court. He’s gone 5-6 from deep in the last four Wisconsin games, and is shooting 46 percent from distance this year.
“I feel very comfortable, I feel confident,” Wahl said after the game. “It’s my second year in the offense and with my teammates, getting more familiar with them, so yeah I feel good.”
On the defensive end Wisconsin continued to dominate. Northwestern’s 52 points against the Badgers marks a season low for the team — their previous low was 56 against Illinois. The Wildcats shot 30 percent from three, and just 3-7 from the free throw line.
“We just did a better job stopping the ball from getting into the paint in the second half,” head coach Greg Gard said. “We went over some stuff at halftime that we needed to execute better, and I thought we did.”
Northwestern was able to muster up just 18 points in the second half after starting the game fairly hot with 34 in the first half. The difference came guarding the paint for Wisconsin, who only allowed four points down low in the second half versus 18 in the first.
“In the first half they were getting a lot of buckets in the paint and right around the rim, which was a focus for us coming into the game,” Wahl said. “We just had to tighten that up in the second half to get the win.”
Next up for the Badgers is No. 15 Ohio State at home in the Kohl Center, should be a good one.