The 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers (19-7, 9-5) took the court at the Kohl Center on Sunday in a conference matchup against the Northwestern Wildcats (17-9, 6-8).
The Badgers came into the contest after losing big at Minnesota on Thursday, looking to avoid their first back-to-back-losses of the season.
The first half started as a shootout, with both teams seemingly scoring at will. Wisconsin, however, went on a 17-6 run to end the half and take a 43-29 lead.
The Badgers shot 75 percent from the floor and 56 percent from downtown in the first half.
Wisconsin and Northwestern traded baskets in the beginning of the second half, as the Badgers’ lead hovered around 10 points for the majority of this time.
Northwestern was able to use a 1-3-1 zone defense to cause the normally sure-handed Badgers to turn the ball over numerous times. The Wildcats closed the scoring gap to three points with around five minutes left to play.
With 15 seconds left in the game and the Badgers up three, Northwestern point guard Michael Thompson shook Tim Jarmusz and had an open drive to the basket, but Jon Leuer slid over and rejected the shot. Jason Bohannon got the rebound, was fouled, and hit both free throws.
The Badgers added two more free throws and hung on to win 70-63.
Jason Bohannon once again led the Badgers in scoring with 17 points. Jordan Taylor added 16 points, Trevon Hughes had 13, and Jon Leuer scored 11.
The Badgers struggled in the second half, turning the ball over numerous times against the 1-3-1 zone the Wildcats effectively employed. Often times Wisconsin threw up poor shots late in the shot clock due to the heavy defensive pressure.
On defense, the Badgers were unable to stop forward John Shurna, who finished the game with 26 points. Tim Jarmusz had the assignment of guarding Shurna, and was burned repeatedly throughout the game.
Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz were both used to guard Shurna at times, and each, especially Evans, did exceptional jobs guarding the star. Despite this, Bo Ryan continued to have Jarmusz guard Shurna, and Shurna, time and time again, was able to score.
A bright spot for the Badgers was the play of Jon Leuer. In his second game back from injury Leuer played 22 minutes, scored 11 points, had four rebounds, and blocked four shots, including the huge block in the final seconds that essentially sealed the victory.
Leuer’s points were all from inside and off free throws earned in the post. This inside presence has been non-existent in Leuer’s absence.
Leuer did miss three of his eight free throw attempts, but played solidly for the majority of the game.
Jason Bohannon continues to be the rock that anchors this Wisconsin team. In addition to leading all Badgers with 17 points, Bohannon added three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and played solidly on defense. Bohannon also played much smarter against the 1-3-1 zone than Taylor and Hughes, who combined for seven turnovers.
The Badgers need to continue to play through Bohannon until Leuer finds his stride.
With Sunday’s win the Badgers earned yet another 20 win season, and remain the only team in the Big Ten to avoid back-to-back losses.
The Badgers hope to follow up Sunday’s win with another victory when they travel to Indiana on Thursday.
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