The Daily Northwestern

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 60, Wisconsin 52

Gavin+Skelly+attempts+a+3-pointer.+The+senior+forward+tallied+8+points+as+Northwestern+held+off+Wisconsin%2C+60-52%2C+on+Thursday.
Gavin Skelly attempts a 3-pointer. The senior forward tallied 8 points as Northwestern held off Wisconsin, 60-52, on Thursday.

Gavin Skelly attempts a 3-pointer. The senior forward tallied 8 points as Northwestern held off Wisconsin, 60-52, on Thursday.

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Gavin Skelly attempts a 3-pointer. The senior forward tallied 8 points as Northwestern held off Wisconsin, 60-52, on Thursday.

Ben Pope, Managing Editor

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Northwestern exploded out of the gate and maintained a fairly comfortable lead wire-to-wire in a 60-52 win over Wisconsin on Thursday night.

Junior center Dererk Pardon dominated his matchup against Badgers All-American big man Ethan Happ, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the field for 17 points. Junior forward Vic Law had 9 points and eight rebounds while Scottie Lindsey added 14 points, but fellow senior guard Bryant McIntosh struggled en route to a 2-for-8 shooting line and seven turnovers.

The visitors led by a whopping 18-1 margin six minutes into the game, sinking jumper after jumper while holding the hosts to a single Ethan Happ free throw well.

Wisconsin (10-14, 3-8 Big Ten) eventually settled into the game and rallied to cut the deficit to trail 37-26 at halftime. A 3-pointer by Aleem Ford pulled the hosts within 6 with 1:21 left and the Badgers’ defense held the Wildcats without a field goal for the game’s final 4:48, but they could never get within close striking distance.

NU (14-10, 5-6) picked up its third win in its last four games and closed out a 2-1 road trip by beating the Badgers, who had a 64 percent all-time winning percentage against the Cats, for the third consecutive year.

Takeaways

1. Cats are generating good road starts. After resorting to second-half comebacks in wins over Penn State and Minnesota, NU has now run out to fast starts in tough road environments in back-to-back games. The Cats jumped out to an early 14-5 lead on Monday in Michigan’s Crisler Center, then one-upped themselves Thursday. It’s an encouraging sign of confidence for a team with a sub-.500 conference record.

2. But the offense still hasn’t fixed its woes. NU made 12 of its first 15 shots, running well-designed ball screens for open looks and rolling off picks for uncontested dunks throughout that stretch. Then it inexplicably stopped doing much of that. The Cats made just 9 of their 26 field goal attempts afterwards and resorted back to contested 3-point looks and improbable late-shot-clock pull-ups, closely resembling the below-50-point efforts at Indiana and Michigan earlier this winter. There’s still much improvement to be made.

3. It wasn’t pretty, but the Cats are still alive. The game was marred by sloppy play (25 combined turnovers, many unforced) and lethargic play-running for many stretches, and the fact that the Badgers were out of timeouts for the final seven minutes was perhaps symbolic of both coaches’ frustrations. Nevertheless, NU’s recent semi-surge has kept the team at least mathematically in contention as they head home for a crucial matchup against No. 24 Michigan next week.

Email: benjaminpope2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @benpope111

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