Senior center Ethan Happ registered his second triple-double of the season while sophomore guards Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice went a combined 7-12 from beyond the arc as the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (14-6, 6-3 Big Ten) defeated the Northwestern Wildcats (12-8, 3-6) 62–46 Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
Midway through the second half, Happ was unaware he was just one rebound shy of a triple-double.
“The guys on the bench … Mike Ballard said give me one more rebound, and I was like ‘what are you talking about?’” Happ said. “He usually doesn’t talk to me during games.”
But when a packed Kohl Center crowd burst into cheers following Happ’s offensive rebound with 6:54 to go in the second half, Happ knew what he had just accomplished.
Happ finished the game with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, and though it was not one of his finest offensive performances, the senior still found a way to fill up the stat sheet and guide his team to victory as he has done all season.
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Davison and Trice each posted 18 points to lead all scorers. The two sharpshooters came out firing, as Wisconsin went 6-10 on three-pointers in the first half.
Northwestern managed a two-point lead late in the first half, but after a Brevin Pritzl three-pointer at the 5:30 mark put the Badgers up by one, Wisconsin went on a 19-2 run through the beginning of the second half.
After Pritzl’s three, the Wildcats were ice-cold to close the half, making just one of their final eight shots from the field, while Wisconsin made six of their final seven to go up 34–24 at the break.
A Nate Reuvers and-one with 16:51 remaining in the second half put Wisconsin up 39–24 to close the run. Wisconsin led by double digits for the remainder of the afternoon.
But Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins did not blame his team’s defense for the loss.
“We did not lose because of our defense,” Collins said. “We lost because they defended us well and we could not score.”
Wisconsin held Northwestern to 30 percent shooting — including an abysmal 23 percent in the second half — and forced 13 turnovers. The Wildcats could not get into a rhythm on the offensive end for the entire second half.
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Redshirt junior Vic Law — the Wildcats leading scorer entering Saturday with 16.3 points per game — scored just six points on 2-11 shooting. Redshirt sophomore Aaron Falzon scored just six points fresh off a career performance against Indiana in which he netted a career-high six three-pointers.
The Wildcats had open looks throughout the game, but they weren’t falling Saturday. In contrast, the Badgers knocked down their open looks from the perimeter thanks to Happ’s ability to attract attention inside.
Happ now has two of UW’s three triple-doubles in school history. His first came in a season-opening win over Coppin State Nov. 6 when he put up a similar line of 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Josh Gasser is the only other Badger with a triple-double. His also came against Northwestern when he dropped 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 78–46 win eight years ago.
Up next for Wisconsin is a trip to Nebraska, where they’ll play the Cornhuskers Tuesday and look to extend their win streak to four games.