The No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2) escape with an 89-85 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds (8-6) inside the Kohl Center.
UW built a 29-9 lead with 10:40 remaining in the First Half, but defensively the Badgers couldn’t contain the hot shooting of the Redbirds after the great start.
The Badgers allowed Illinois State to shoot 30-for-60 (50.0%) from the field and 9-of-22 (40.9%) from 3-point range.
After two weeks of no games, the Badgers surprisingly played well offensively, particularly in the first half. UW shot 28-of-66 (42.4%) from the field, 8-of-20 (40.0%) from 3-point range and 25-for-32 (78.1%) from the free throw line. UW had 14 assists and just six turnovers and scored 36 points in the paint.
The Badgers finished with 1.29 Points Per Possession (PPP).
Sophomore Steven Crowl no question had his best game of the season, finishing with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-8 from the field, including a perfect 2-of-2 from 3-point range and grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists.
Johnny Davis finished with his first collegiate double-double, finishing with 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal, but he did have two turnovers, one of which came late in the game when he was extremely careless with the ball.
Illinois State did do a good job of shutting down Johnny Davis in the second half. Davis shot 6-for-23 (26.1%) from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range, but Davis did hit 8-of-9 (88.9%) free throws.
Tyler Wahl finished with 18 points and six rebounds tonight, while Chucky Hepburn finished with 13 points, four assists and two rebounds.
Brad Davison struggled on the offensive end, finishing with seven points on 1-of-9 from the field, but did make all four of his free throw attempts. Davison did have five rebounds and three assists.
The Badgers were without Lorne Bowman, Ben Carlson, Carter Higginbottom, Jahcobi Neath, and Justin Taphorn tonight.
On one hand, the Badgers were able to survive with a very short bench and their two stars, Johnny Davis and Brad Davison, struggling.
On the other hand, Wisconsin nearly let a 20-point first half lead and a 16-point second half lead get away.
I’ll always say it: It’s better to win ugly than lose pretty.
It’s nice to wrap up non-conference with a win.
The Badgers will re-enter Big Ten play with a 10-2 overall record and 1-1 Big Ten record. Wisconsin will next be in action on Monday, January 3rd when they travel to West Lafayette, Indiana to play the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (11-1, 1-1 B1G). Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM (Central Time) and will be televised on the Big Ten Network (BTN).