Men’s Basketball: No. 4 Wisconsin conquers Northwestern from long range in blowout win

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Men’s Basketball: No. 4 Wisconsin conquers Northwestern from long range in blowout win

Wisconsin's Sam Dekker shoots over junior guard Tre Demps. The Badger  forward was deadly from deep, nailing four of six from three-point land, part of a strong showing from the Badgers from beyond the arc.

Wisconsin's Sam Dekker shoots over junior guard Tre Demps. The Badger forward was deadly from deep, nailing four of six from three-point land, part of a strong showing from the Badgers from beyond the arc.

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Wisconsin's Sam Dekker shoots over junior guard Tre Demps. The Badger forward was deadly from deep, nailing four of six from three-point land, part of a strong showing from the Badgers from beyond the arc.

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Wisconsin's Sam Dekker shoots over junior guard Tre Demps. The Badger forward was deadly from deep, nailing four of six from three-point land, part of a strong showing from the Badgers from beyond the arc.

Alex Putterman, Web Editor

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In order to have hope of beating No. 4 Wisconsin on Sunday night, Northwestern had to be nearly perfect.

The Wildcats couldn’t shoot 39 percent or clank three quarters of their three-pointers. They couldn’t miss attempts by the basket and cede open threes. They couldn’t allow the Badgers’ stars to play like All-Americans or fall victim to a dangerous lack of scoring depth.

NU (10-5, 1-1) did all those things in an 81-58 loss to the Badgers (14-1, 2-0) at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“In a game like this, a lot has to go right for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “When a team is that potent and can hit you from so many different angles, you almost have to choose what direction you’re going to go. You’re not going to take everything away.”

Collins said he hoped to limit Wisconsin inside and force them into long-range shots. The strategy was successful in forcing the Badgers to shoot 25 attempts from behind the arc. Unfortunately for NU, 12 of those shots fell through the net.

Wisconsin shot 52.6 percent from the field to NU’s 39.3, converted more free throws and forced more turnovers, but the real difference came from behind the arc. The Badgers converted almost as many 3-pointers (12) as the Cats attempted (14).

The Cats never led, trailed 43-21 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 28 in the second half. NU never found a rhythm on offense, often settling for mid-range jumpers and contested floaters. On the other end, the Badgers had their way, shooting almost 50 percent from 3-point range and throwing down uncontested dunks seemingly whenever they wanted.

The Badgers had six players score at least 8 points. Forwards Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky led the team in scoring with 16 points apiece, with Kaminsky also accumulating 10 rebounds and 6 assists.

“He’s such a unique player to me,” Collins said of Kaminsky. “His ability to step out, and he can put it on the floor, he can shoot. He’s tremendous and he’s very unique, and then you put him on the floor with (Nigel) Hayes, (Josh) Gasser, (Sam) Dekker and (Traevon) Jackson and who are you going to leave?”

Although Wisconsin had impressive balance and a wide range of scoring threats, NU got most of its offense from two guys. Junior guard Tre Demps led the way with 17 points on 7-14 shooting and also pulled down six rebounds, and freshman guard Bryant McIntosh added 13 points. No other NU players scored in double figures.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said his team, as usual, focused defensively on forcing NU into inefficient long two-point shots.

“Our philosophy has never changed,” Ryan said. “Take away the rim and take away the threes and make them make tough twos.”

The Badgers led from the get-go, taking leads of 5-0, 11-3 and 22-9. Wisconsin was up by 22 points by the break and pulled away even further midway through the second half, leading 75-47 with 7:35 to play.

Demps said on-ball defense was NU’s biggest problem Sunday.

“There are good players in our league,” the junior said. “They’re going to find the spots where the defenders are weak. Our whole team has to work on guarding the ball.”

The loss in many ways mirrored the Cats’ 76-49 loss to the Badgers in Evanston last Jan. 2. Four weeks later, NU upset Wisconsin 65-56 in Madison. The difference between that game and Sunday’s, Collins said, was simple: Then, the Cats’ shots fell, whereas Sunday they didn’t.

After Sunday’s loss, which dropped NU to 1-1 in the Big Ten, Collins stressed the difference in experience between the two teams. The Badgers start three seniors and a junior, while the Cats rely on numerous underclassmen in major roles.

“They’re not playing a single freshman, and I’m playing five,” Collins said. “It’s a process. You’ve got to play in games like this to learn what it takes.”

Email: asputt@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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