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Friday, December 08, 2023
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John Blackwell’s second-half heroics push Wisconsin men’s basketball past Robert Morris

Blackwell’s 18-point second-half performance led the Badgers past the Colonials after a close first half.

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team defeated the Robert Morris Colonials 78-68 at home Friday after Wisconsin guard John Blackwell helped the Badgers take the lead halfway into the second half. 

The Badgers looked to bounce back after struggling to score against the Providence Friars’ suffocating defense in a tough 59-72 road loss Tuesday.

Similar to the matchup against the Friars, Wisconsin shot poorly from the three-point line and missed all six attempts in the first half against Robert Morris. However, the Badgers’ forward duo of Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl led the way in the paint to push Wisconsin ahead. 

Wahl struggled to score in Wisconsin’s previous matchups this season but found opportunities throughout the first half Friday. 

Wahl backed down the smaller Colonials defenders and took any chance he got to lay the ball over the Robert Morris defense. He finished the game with 18 points and shot perfectly from the field. 

Crowl, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, also found easy shots at the basket and drew four fouls on shot attempts in the paint in tandem with Wahl, leading the Colonials to 10 team fouls in eight minutes. 

Robert Morris’ tallest starters were 6-foot-7 forwards Markeese Hastings and Stephaun Walker. That gave the Badgers’ seven-foot Crowl and 6-foot-9 Wahl the height difference as Wisconsin looked for post-scoring opportunities throughout the game. 

Even with the height difference, the Colonials kept the score close with efficient three-point shooting. Robert Morris lived at the three-point line throughout the game — half the Colonials’ field goal attempts in the first half came from the three-point line, where they shot 46% in the first half.  

The Badgers only led by two points at halftime despite shooting 12 more free throws than Robert Morris.  

The same trend persisted in the beginning of the second half, where Wisconsin lived in the paint and Colonials died by the three-point shot.  

With the game tied at 48 apiece and with 12 minutes remaining, Blackwell went on a scoring spree and notched all 18 of his points. He drove to the basket at every opportunity, even when the larger Colonials defenders met him at the rim. Blackwell shot 10 free-throw attempts off fouls drawn. 

Blackwell also found success in three-point attempts, where he made both such attempts and got two steals that led to fast-break baskets for the Badgers. 

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Blackwell showed he can be a reliable scorer for Wisconsin and a standout player in the Badgers’ 2023-24 freshmen class.

“I didn’t really score in the first half, but I just stayed ready to go if my number was called in the second half,” Blackwell told reporters after Friday’s game. 

Wisconsin heads into their first game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament Monday against Virginia in Fort Myers, Florida. 

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