One team had to give in Saturday afternoon’s clash between Wisconsin and Northwestern, and it was certainly not the Badgers. The team handily defeated Northwestern (12-8, 3-6 B1G), 62-46, at the Kohl Center.
Coming into this game, both the Wildcats and Badgers (14-6, 6-3 B1G) were both riding waves of momentum. Northwestern had clinched wins in their past two games against Indiana and Rutgers, while Wisconsin came off a huge win against previously undefeated No. 2 Michigan, followed by a win against Illinois earlier this week. Notably, Northwestern was also 2-0 in its last two trips to the Kohl Center – a notoriously difficult place to win. However, this game proved different.
The first points of the game hinted at a much-anticipated matchup between Northwestern’s Dererk Pardon and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ. Happ and Pardon each started the game off with a basket, but for Pardon, that was just about it for the half. Happ totaled 8 points and 5 assists in the first half. His skill set forced the Wildcats to double team him, as they have successfully in past matchups. Today, however, he capitalized on the opportunity to dish the ball to various open teammates.
Northwestern’s play in the first half was messy. The team committed 9 turnovers in the half, giving Wisconsin extra possessions. Furthermore, the Wildcats, who on average allow only 4.5 three-pointers per game, gave up six to the Badgers just in the first half. This combination is part of why, in the first half, Northwestern only held a lead for less than a minute. The Wildcats also missed 7 of their last 8 field goals of the half, going the final three minutes without putting any points up.
As Northwestern desperately looked for an offensive spark, Aaron Falzon hit both of the three-point shots he took in the first half, giving us a glimpse of his explosive play against Indiana. Freshman Ryan Greer also totaled a career-high six points. Even so, Northwestern’s offense continued to lag throughout the second half, including a six-and-a-half minute scoring drought. With just 12 minutes left in the second half, the Wildcats were shooting just 28 percent from the field.
Happ continued to make more of an impact throughout the game, securing his second triple-double, making him the only player in NCAA basketball this season to have two. He was in good company as Wisconsin’s Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice had each totalled 18 points by the end of the game.
🚨 @EthanHapp22 just messed around and snagged another triple-double for @BadgerMBB 🚨— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 26, 2019
Happ stands alone atop college basketball as the only player this season with two triple-doubles. pic.twitter.com/sy0njefiu9
The Wildcats’ inability to contain Happ and their struggle to spark offensive momentum left them disappointed on the road. This 46-62 loss against the Badgers gave Northwestern a new season low (previously 55 points against Michigan State), which they hope to bounce back from as they travel to take on Maryland on Tuesday.