Men’s Basketball: Bryant McIntosh pilots Northwestern to upset win over No. 7 Wisconsin


Leah Voskuil/The Daily Cardinal

Bryant McIntosh dribbles the ball up the court. The junior guard led the Wildcats with 25 points in their upset of No. 7 Wisconsin.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

MADISON, Wis. — On a two-game losing skid, with junior guard Scottie Lindsey still sidelined with an illness, Northwestern needed a hero against No. 7 Wisconsin.

Cue Bryant McIntosh.

The junior guard shrugged off a slow start to tally 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, pulling the Wildcats out of an early slog and steadying NU (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) in crunch time to guarantee what might be the biggest win in program history — a 66-59 road victory over the Badgers (21-4, 10-2).

“I put in a lot of work, so when things aren’t going well at the beginning … I still have confidence in my game,” McIntosh said. “Things just happen in a game, that’s part of it. Some shots don’t fall, sometimes you get lucky and you hit a glass 3 at the end of the first half.”

That final shot — a bank from the perimeter that lifted the Cats ahead by 9 before the intermission — seemingly erased McIntosh’s inefficient 2-of-6 start, during which NU managed just 6 points and no assists in 10 minutes.

By the time McIntosh’s attempt kissed off the backboard, the captain was in full form, with 11 first-half points and a pair of assists as he piloted the Cats’ crucial surge.

“Bryant had it really going on today,” sophomore forward Vic Law said. “I struggled a little bit with my shot today, and Bryant really picked it up for all of us. Not only his offense, but his defense was fantastic.”

The combination of Law’s 3-of-12 mark, freshman guard Isiah Brown’s return to the bench and Lindsey’s continued absence left McIntosh as the only trustworthy shot-creator against Wisconsin’s three-headed offensive monster of Nigel Hayes, Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig.

But McIntosh singlehandedly outscored the lot — the trio managed just 24 combined points — leaning on volume shooting and confidence to steal the upset win on the road.

“They were putting a lot of attention on Bryant,” coach Chris Collins said. “He’s my hero for shooting the ball 23 times.”

In many ways, McIntosh’s performance mirrored his output in Tuesday’s loss to Illinois.

In the defeat, the guard’s 0-for-8 clip out of the gate set the tone for NU’s uninspired night on the offensive end, though his second-half rhythm breathed new life into the team. Still, McIntosh committed four turnovers down the stretch as the Cats watched the unimpressive Fighting Illini briefly throw a wrench in their tournament hopes.

The opening two acts of Sunday’s contest followed the same narrative, but with NU on top in the homestretch, McIntosh delivered the daggers — scoring or assisting on all but one of the Cats’ scores in the final 10 minutes and sealing the win with two pairs of free throws.

Collins said it was his junior captain who kept NU focused following two debilitating losses. And against Wisconsin, it was McIntosh who carried the team on his shoulders to secure a signature win amid a historic campaign.

“We just didn’t feel sorry for ourselves,” McIntosh said. “We talked a lot through our group message and in the locker room, it’s time to shut the water off. It’s time to stop the bleeding.”

Following his lead, the Cats did just that.

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