Wisconsin is shooting 32.1 percent on layups over its past two games, a big reason the No. 21 Badgers enter Sunday’s visit to Northwestern on a two-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, the host Wildcats have lost 12 straight, including five of the past six by single digits.
Wisconsin’s Micah Potter was addressing the team’s approach to its interior game when he said “patience is a big thing,” but those five words apply to both sides as the Badgers try for their sixth straight win against the Wildcats.
Potter was speaking Thursday after Wisconsin endured a 77-62 home loss to No. 11 Iowa, stumbling down the stretch after slashing a 16-point second-half deficit to three with 9:17 to go.
While the Badgers’ shooting suffered from most spots on the floor — they were 21-for-70, with the 30 percent marking a season low — layups were especially dicey. Wisconsin made just 4 of 15 layups against the Hawkeyes one game after going 5 for 13 on such shots in a 67-59 loss to No. 3 Michigan.
Wisconsin (15-8, 9-7 Big Ten) grabbed 17 offensive rebounds Thursday yet managed a mere four second-chance points.
“I feel like in the first half … and the entire game, guys rushed,” said Potter, who posted finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. “We’ve just got to be patient in the post, be confident in our ability to finish inside (and) go through contact. If we need to, initiate the contact … get to the free-throw line.”
Northwestern (6-13, 3-12 Big Ten) has been idle since Tuesday’s 73-66 road loss to in-state rival Illinois. With Chase Audige (22 points) and Pete Nance (14) leading the charge, the Wildcats stormed back from an early 18-point hole to come within two points of the No. 5 Illini with 1:46 to play.
Illinois took control after that, keeping the Wildcats winless in Big Ten play since a 71-70 victory against then-No. 23 Ohio State on Dec. 26.
“To start the game, we were on our heels a little bit,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “That first 10 minutes was just not us. We played really well, and it’s just not good enough.”
Wisconsin could attest, as the Badgers’ early woes Thursday added up before ultimately proving to be insurmountable.
“It’s frustrating,” said the Badgers’ Brad Davison, who scored 15 points. “You work so hard to get it back down, but it makes it hard when you dig yourself a hole to start with. That has kind of been the story of our season so far. You can’t get over that hump.”
Host Wisconsin topped Northwestern 66-52 on Jan. 20 in the schools’ first meeting of the season. Tyler Wahl led four Badgers in double figures with 14 points, while Audige paced all scorers with 16 points.
The Badgers limited the Wildcats to 18 points in the second half.
–Field Level Media