No. 10 Wisconsin ready for reeling Northwestern
No. 10 Wisconsin will look to maintain its home-court success when it opposes Northwestern on Wednesday night in a Big Ten Conference showdown at Madison, Wis.
The Badgers (11-3, 5-2 Big Ten) boast a 9-1 record at home, compared with a 2-2 mark on the road. Wisconsin returns to play on campus for the first time since Jan. 7, when it held off Indiana for an 80-73 win in double overtime.
“It’s a gritty group,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “I think the versatility that — who’s the right combination, what is the right combination to have on the floor — sometimes it’s made for offensive reasons. (Against Indiana), it was all made on the defensive end. …
“I think the grit of this group, the versatility of this group (stands out the most). Every night is going to be a battle. The league is hard. You’re going to get teams’ best shot.”
The next challenge will come from Northwestern (6-6, 3-5), which is looking to snap a five-game skid. The Wildcats will try to bounce back from a rough outing on defense, as they allowed a season high in points during a 96-73 loss against then-No. 5 Iowa on Saturday afternoon.
Pete Nance had 16 points to lead Northwestern and Boo Buie added 12, all on 3-pointers, but little else went right as the Wildcats slipped closer toward the bottom of the conference standings.
“We knew what we were facing,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “They’re truly one of the elite teams. If you’re going to win, you have to play well on both ends, and we fell short of that.”
Miller Kopp leads Northwestern with an average of 13.5 points per game this season, while Chase Audige ranks second at 12.3 points per contest. Nance (11.8) and Buie (10) also are averaging in double digits.
For Wisconsin, D’Mitrik Trice is the team leader with 15 points per game, followed by Micah Potter (12.3) and Aleem Ford (9.9). Not far behind are Brad Davison (9.7) and Nate Reuvers (9.4).
Trice proved to be the key in Wisconsin’s latest victory, a 60-54 road win against Rutgers on Friday. He scored eight points during a 12-0 run late in the second half that turned a two-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
“It was good for him to step up at the right time, which senior point guards — good ones — tend to do,” Gard said.
This is the first of two regular-season meetings between the schools, who also are scheduled to tip off Feb. 21 in Evanston, Ill.
Last season, the teams met once, with Wisconsin pulling away for a 63-48 home win on March 4. The Badgers led by six points at halftime and outscored Northwestern by nine points in the second half.
Reuvers led a balanced attack with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting while four players scored nine points apiece for Wisconsin.
Nance led Northwestern with 14 points against Wisconsin, shooting 6-for-12 overall and 1-for-4 from beyond the arc. Buie made only one of six shots and finished with two points in 23 minutes.
–Field Level Media