Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball lost 59-72 to the Providence Friars at Providence, Rhode Island on Tuesday.
The Badgers came into this game after a disappointing 70-80 loss against the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers, a game where Wisconsin struggled to make free throws and most of the deficit was within single digits.
It took the Badgers three minutes from tip-off to get on the scoreboard, and this trend of long, scoreless stretches continued throughout the game.
Most of Wisconsin’s first-half offense went through 6-foot-4 freshman guard John Blackwell, who led the Badgers in first-half scoring with nine points.
Blackwell seemed unbothered by Providence’s invasive perimeter defense and the ecstatic home crowd. He dissected the Friars’ defense and broke down their pick-and-roll coverage, shooting mid-range jumpers in gaps he saw.
Blackwell received more touches than in Wisconsin’s matchup against Tennessee on Nov. 10. He played a total of nine minutes against the Volunteers, four minutes fewer than his first-half minutes Tuesday.
This granted Blackwell more freedom in his offense, similar to when he put up 12 points in 15 minutes against Arkansas State.
Despite Blackwell’s stellar performance off the bench in the first half, Wisconsin found it hard to get past the lengthy Providence defenders. The Badgers’ starters combined for a total of 12 points and only made a combined four shots from the field in the first half.
Providence starting guard Jayden Pierre proved troublesome for the Badgers with his two-way play that contained Wisconsin guard AJ Storr to two points in the first half. On the other half of the court, Pierre shot perfectly from the field and scored 11 points in the first half.
The Badgers found themselves down 21-37 at halftime because of the scoring struggles and could not contain the Friars guards on the defensive end.
Wisconsin’s woes continued into the second half. Providence increased their lead to more than 20 points and led by that much for most of the second half. This made a Badgers comeback much more unlikely, but Storr gave Wisconsin a fighting chance with 20 points on 50% shooting in the second half. His second-half performance fueled a 13-1 Badgers run in the last three minutes of regulation.
Wisconsin came up short in the end as Providence’s 24-point lead in the final three minutes was too much for the Badgers to overcome.
Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard was frank about the Badgers' struggles against Providence in a postgame press conference.
“First two, three, four minutes didn’t take long, credit to Providence. They kicked our ass,” Gard said.
Storr shared insight on Gard’s message to the team moving forward into the season.
“Today wasn’t the best day, but you got to have a short-term memory, especially [since] it’s a long season,” Storr said.
Wisconsin’s next matchup is against Robert Morris on Nov. 17 at the Kohl Center.