Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s Basketball: Badgers conquer Hawkeyes, keep Big Dance aspirations afloat prior to conference tournament

Fueled by balanced offensive attack, Wisconsin closes three-game homestand with double-digit victory
Justin Mielke

After failing to execute down the stretch against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (16-11, 8-9 Big Ten) out-dueled Fran McCaffery’s Iowa Hawkeyes (17-11, 9-8) 64-52 Feb. 22 in Madison, Wisconsin.

With an array of March Madness implications on the line, the Badgers certainly needed to capture another quality win to boost their resume. As participants in 22 of the previous 23 NCAA Men’s Division I Tournaments, UW’s 21.9% second half shooting clip Saturday would not suffice against a hungry, multifaceted Iowa squad.

Luckily, the Badgers did not jog out of the tunnel as strangers to McCaffery’s schemes. The two Big Ten foes last squared off Dec. 11, and by courtesy of a Havlicek-esque swipe from Chucky Hepburn, UW survived in overtime 78-75.


Given Iowa’s nationally-acclaimed scoring prowess, Wisconsin’s defensive onslaught and NCAA-leading 8.7 turnovers per game mark would need to appear in full force. The Hawkeyes likely acknowledged this prior to the tip though and immediately activated a full court defensive press. The added pressure, coupled with a few uncharacteristic, unforced giveaways, rattled UW early.

Nine of Iowa’s first 10 tallies arrived off Wisconsin turnovers, and this trend prompted Greg Gard to experiment with his rotation for the first time in a few weeks. The fluctuation, coupled with early foul trouble and Iowa’s small-ball lineup, disrupted Steven Crowl’s typical minute quota. The 7-footer played just over 4:30 in the first period.

Women’s Basketball: Badgers roll past Rutgers for ninth win of season

“It’s hard to sit that long,” Crowl said in his post game press conference. “The big thing is just trying to stay engaged in the huddles … you can’t let your mind start floating.”

Fortunately, Iowa simply could not shoot a pebble into the ocean. The Hawkeyes shot an abysmal 31.03% from the field and 8.3% from downtown and due to a severe lack of size down low, the black and gold could not contain Tyler Wahl’s unorthodox scoring methods on the block. Eight different Badgers scratched the scoresheet during the first half and at the break, Wisconsin held a one-point edge, 27-26.

“It’s a great thing,” Wahl said after the match. “It was really nice to be able to get the guys who don’t really get the limelight a whole lot — those guys at the end of the bench that are always engaged … to get out there and … get in the box score.”

With 2023 Pro Football Hall of Famer and Wisconsin alum Joe Thomas honored at halftime, it’s safe to say the student section went ballistic. This momentum translated to the hardwood and when the Badgers reinstated Crowl, he did his best rendition of a 2000 NBA Finals Shaquille O’Neal. The big fella scored the first three second-half buckets for Wisconsin, including a pair of rim-thrashing jams igniting the Kohl Center.

For roughly 10 minutes, Iowa diversified its scoring attack and went blow-for-blow with UW. But, after Wisconsin nailed three consecutive 3-point looks from the left corner, the Hawkeyes mimicked the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats.

Iowa shot 2-16 from long range in the second half and by continually putting Connor Essegian and Hepburn at the charity stripe, the Hawkeyes fed into Wisconsin’s somewhat archaic pace. UW orchestrated a 19-6 scoring spurt over an eight-minute stretch and before the black and gold could claw back, Area Red showered Wisconsin’s Carter Gilmore with booming chants of MVP.

In perhaps the best second-half finish of Wisconsin’s season, the Badgers received contributions from the collective. Even when Iowa’s offense appeared stagnant, UW did not decelerate. The cardinal and white dominated the glass and capitalized on quality, 2-point attempts from inside.

Softball: Evaluating Katie Keller’s career of dominance at diamond

“Obviously [in the] second half, we did a much better job of taking care of the ball,” Gard said following the contest. “[In] this league [you] obviously you get tested every night, and I was happy with how our guys responded coming off Saturday’s finish.”

For Wisconsin, Essegian showcased his poise after an 0-10 display this past weekend. UW’s freshman sniper registered a game-leading 17 points and snared five rebounds in his 31 minutes of action. With his two long range scores, the Indiana native also tied Brad Davison’s freshman school record for made 3-pointers (60 3FG) in a single season.

The Badger’s Swiss Army knife, Tyler Wahl, secured his third double-double of the season — the forward snagged a season-best 14 boards and poured in five field goals for 11 points to captain the cardinal and white on the post. Hepburn added 12 points and dished out five helpers and despite playing just 12 minutes, Crowl shot 80% from the floor.

On the opposite side, Wisconsin quelled Kris Murray, a 20-point per game threat and twin to Sacramento Kings’ rookie Keegan Murray, to a 2-10 split from the field. Guard Tony Perkins and forward Filip Rebraca chipped in with 13 points apiece and sharpshooter Payton Sandfort dropped 10 tallies off the bench. And, notwithstanding their red-hot performance Dec. 11, the McCaffery brothers, responsible for 41 of Iowa’s 75 total points in Iowa City, recorded just one total field goal Wednesday.

Looking ahead, Wisconsin ventures to Ann Arbor for its second duel against Juwan Howard’s Michigan Wolverines Sunday, Feb. 26.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *