Last time I wrote about Badgers basketball Wisconsin had just lost 3 in a row and then promptly broke that losing streak in the next game. Now, the Badgers have turned it around and won 5 in a row. Hopefully I am not jinxing them again. The good thing about these 5 games is that they have won them in different ways. As usually for Wisconsin, it all starts will defense. The defense has been strong recently and has helped an inconsistent offense. Different players have been stepping up in each game. Let's take a look.
@ Purdue 67-62 - This is the one that the Badgers really needed. I don't think will look back on it as a huge turning point in the season, because I don't think we're really going to do anything special this season. But it was a necessary win at the time due to the 1-3 Big Ten record and Wisconsin's very poor record at Purdue. Wisco started fast in this one, building a huge early lead with the 3. As per Wisconsin usually, things dried up for a time and Purdue came back strongly, but never took the lead. A few 3's by Bruesewitz and Brust put Wisconsin back in control and the Badgers ended things with some great free throw shooting, something that has been lacking for the Badgers this season. Lots of positives from this one, but I was most happy seeing Bruiser fired up again just like March of last year. We need that fire and we need those points.
vs. Nebraska 50-45 - I didn't watch this one because it was on the same time as the Packers game. It sounded like a poor game, a good time to play Nebraska at home. A few hustle plays and offensive rebounds won this one. Winning ugly - we've seen that in Badger Basketball down the years.
vs. Northwestern 77-57 - Interesting game here, a very close first half, 34-32 with both teams hitting their shots. The Badgers came out on fire in the second half and the defense stepped up too. Northwestern attempted the 1-3-1 zone at one point and the Badgers ripped it apart. Taylor 4-6 from 3, a very good sign. Ryan Evans with 17 points and 9 rebounds. This is the type of game you expect from Wisconsin against a weaker opponent at home.
@ Illinois 67-63 - Another place Bo Ryan's Badgers usually struggle. Another grind it out, every possession matters Big Ten game. In crunch time, it was (finally) Jordan Taylor stepping up and playing like an All-America candidate. Big shots and big free throws from Taylor. 18 from Breggren and strong defense from Gasser.
vs. Indiana 57-50 - Another great defensive game for the Badgers. This was again a close one, back and forth all game with neither team taking control. There were a few big second half shots from Ben Brust, but this wasn't a case of clutch shooting. Instead, it was a case of clutch rebounding. Wisconsin had a few 3 point opportunities to put the game away, missed them, but got the rebound. It was then great late free throw shooting, particularly from Ryan Evans, that clinched a 5th straight win for the Badgers.
5 wins in row. Nothing too spectacular. Jordan Taylor is still struggling with a shot. The team is still looking for a legitimate 2nd scorer. 3 point shooting and shooting in general has been worse than inconsistent, but the team is only a half game out of first in the Big Ten. If only they would have beaten Iowa!
Coming Up - The schedule is tough, but that is the case for everyone in the Big 10. Two games vs. Ohio State, @ Michigan State. Next up is at Penn State, which could be a bit of a trap game with Ohio State coming in next. I still think Ohio State is the class of the league. Hopefully Wisconsin can solidify a 3rd place finish. Free throws have improved, different guys step up on different nights, Ben Brust is a great 6th man, and Ryan Evans has been very impressive on the boards. If these things keep happening and Taylor or someone else get hot offensively, a run in March is not out of the questions.
Saturday, January 28, 2012 by Tony Brown ·
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