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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Wisconsin Men's Basketball vs Western Illinois0339.JPG

Badgers men’s basketball secures blowout victory against Western Illinois

Four Badgers starters scored in double digits in Wisconsin’s 71-49 victory against Western Illinois.

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team secured a 22-point victory over the Western Illinois Leathernecks at home on Monday after four of five Badgers starters scored double digits. 

After Wisconsin won the championship game against Southern Methodist University in the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Nov. 22, they looked to improve their 4-2 record against the Leathernecks in preparation for their Saturday matchup against the No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles.

The Badgers dominated Western Illinois throughout the entirety of the game, keeping the lead throughout the entire game. 

Wisconsin guard AJ Storr used his physicality and shiftiness early in the first half to get good looks at the basket. He shot perfectly from the free-throw and three-point line to finish the first half with 11 points. 

The Badgers dominated the paint early in the matchup, with Wisconsin forward Steven Crowl guarded by 6-foot-11 Leathernecks forward Drew Cisse. Cisse held his own in the first few possessions he guarded Crowl, and he even blocked one of Crowl’s first shot attempts. However, Crowl got the best of him in the post later in the game.

Crowl finished the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds — six of which were offensive — to lead Wisconsin to second-chance points.

The Badgers led by 16 points at the half before cruising into the second half.

Western Illinois fought back at the beginning of the second half and traded baskets with Wisconsin, but Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn had other plans. Hepburn lit up the field late in the second half and scored 11 straight points that stretched the lead and iced the game. Hepburn topped off his solo-scoring run with a stepback corner three while heavily guarded by Cisse.

Wisconsin forward Tyler Wahl has found his scoring touch in the last couple of games for the Badgers. Wahl shot a prolific 80% from the field and free-throw line against the Leathernecks, which contributed to his 12 points. 

With Hepburn’s scoring run late in the second half, Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard claimed that the abundant scoring from the starters freed up the scoring load on Hepburn, which allowed him to take over the second half.

“He has the ability to take a game over and to make plays like he does, that’s the luxury of having a mature point guard,” Gard said in the post-game press conference.

Wisconsin moves to 5-2 on the season and will play against in-state rival No. 3 Marquette on Saturday at the Kohl Center.

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