Men’s Basketball: No. 24 Wisconsin ends Northwestern’s Big Ten Tournament run in blowout


Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan

Bryant McIntosh looks to pass. The junior guard scored 8 points as Northwestern struggled offensively against No. 24 Wisconsin.

Ben Pope, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Playing its third game in less than 48 hours, worn-down Northwestern couldn’t match No. 24 Wisconsin in any phase of Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal.

Wisconsin forwards Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes combined for 34 points and 18 rebounds as the No. 2 seed Badgers (25-8, 12-6 Big Ten) rolled to a 76-48 win over the No. 6 seed Wildcats (23-11, 10-8) and ended NU’s tournament run in Washington, D.C.

“When you get this late into the tournament, it’s about energy, it’s about effort, and we didn’t have enough of either today,” junior guard Bryant McIntosh said. “They beat us to every 50-50 ball and they deserved to win the game, and we didn’t — didn’t even deserve to be on the floor at some points.”

Wisconsin scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points and never relinquished the lead. Although NU did cut the difference to 4 midway through the first half, the Badgers muscled to a 38-21 halftime lead, holding the Cats to just one assisted field goal in the first half. Behind a strong 3-point shooting effort, Wisconsin only extended that advantage in the second frame.

NU’s 28-point margin of defeat was the third-largest since coach Chris Collins took over the program in 2013, and its 46 points scored represented the team’s fewest since January of last year.

“(The Badgers) were very good today, they were very sharp, they were very physical,” Collins said. “For us, we just could never get into rhythm. We had some shots early in the paint (that) we needed to see go in … to find some energy and we just weren’t able to do that.”

Junior guard Scottie Lindsey led NU with 16 points, but the rest of the offense struggled mightily against Wisconsin’s Big Ten-leading defense.

On the day, the Cats shot just 34.6 percent from the field and committed 12 turnovers.

“They guarded us pretty well, they took a lot of our stuff away, pushed us out on the floor, and we didn’t do a very good job of sharing the ball either,” said McIntosh, who scored 8 points of 4-of-12 shooting.

On the other end of the court, Wisconsin used the physicality of Happ and Hayes to force NU’s defense to collapse to the rim. It then either scored over the likes of sophomore center Dererk Pardon and junior forward Gavin Skelly or kicked outside for 3-pointers — the Badgers’ 12 triples tied for their second-most this season.

Remembering the loss the Cats dealt them at home last month, Saturday’s rematch felt especially sweet, Hayes said.

“When they played us in our building, they had a little more of a sense of urgency,” said Hayes, whose team will face Michigan in the Big Ten championship game. “We definitely knew that we owed them one today, so we tried to not only match that intensity but surpass it.”

NU now awaits Sunday’s announcement on its NCAA Tournament fate after winning a program-record 23 games to date and making its first-ever appearance in the conference tournament semifinals.

After hammering Rutgers and upsetting Maryland, Collins said he isn’t worried Saturday’s letdown will spoil the momentum his team built in the conference tournament.

“We’re going to be fine,” Collins said. “We had two great wins, and we got beat today by a really good team. We get rested up, we dust ourselves off … and hopefully tomorrow night, whenever that show is, we see our name called and we start preparing for who we’re going to play.”

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