Men’s Basketball: The Wildcats go cold on offense in 62-46 loss against Wisconsin


Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Ryan Greer dribbles the ball. The freshman guard scored six points in the first half on Saturday.

Andrew Golden, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

MADISON, Wis. — On a chilly day in Madison, snow flurries, negative temperatures and blistering winds made it unbearably cold outside. But the only thing colder than the weather outside was Northwestern’s offense inside the Kohl Center on Saturday.

The Wildcats (12-8, 3-6 Big Ten) had a woeful game on the offensive end and Wisconsin’s balanced offensive attack was too much as NU fell on the road, 62-46.

“The story of the game was our inability to score,” coach Chris Collins said. “I actually thought, defensively, we did pretty well against them.”

Headed into their weekend matchup against the Badgers (14-6, 6-3), the Cats recipe to recent success had been stellar defense, as NU had held its opponents to an average of 61.5 points per game in the last two games.

Against Wisconsin, the Cats knew that they had a big challenge in front of them: senior forward Ethan Happ. The 6-foot-10 forward is one of the most accomplished big men in Big Ten history — two-time first team All-Big Ten selection, two-time Big Ten All-Defensive Team pick and a 2017 All-American.

Early in the game, NU was successful containing Happ offensively, mixing one-on-ones in the post and double teams. Happ scored just eight points on 4-8 shooting in the first half. But with the Cats’ defense focused on the senior forward, it left the three-point line vulnerable — and the Badgers made NU pay.

Sophomore guards D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison were left open due to double teams and neither of them shied away from their opportunities. Trice hit all three of his shots from behind the arc in the first half and Davison added two threes of his own.

On the other side of the ball, NU was able to keep the game close early in the first half. Struggling to get the offense going, Collins put in freshman guard Ryan Greer to give the Wildcats a spark off the bench. The backup point guard, who hasn’t seen many minutes this season, persistently attacked the rim and was tied for the team lead with six points in the first half.

“In practice, I’ve been working with the coaches,” Greer said. “(I’m) just becoming more confident in my game. I’m getting more reps.”

An Aaron Falzon three-pointer gave NU its first lead of the game 22-20 with 6:26 remaining in the game. But once the Cats had the lead, Wisconsin went on a 14-2 run to end the first half, with Greer scoring NU’s only points during the run.

The end of the first half was a microcosm for what was to come in the second half. NU shot 7-for-30 in the second half allowing the Badgers to pull away with ease in the second half. None of the Cats finished with more than 10 points, and senior Vic Law and sophomore Anthony Gaines combined to shoot 5-for-22 and NU’s offensive struggles continued Saturday.

“Especially at the start of the second half, I thought we were getting a number of stops early,” Collins said. “We just could not score…we also had a number of open looks that, if you want to win on the road, you gotta knock them down.”

Neither team scored in the first two and a half minutes of the second half, and, once again, the Wildcats played extremely well defensively. But Wisconsin relied on Happ and its guards to carry them — the senior forward finished with his second triple-double of the season and the duo of Trice and Davison each added 18 to put the Wildcats away.

“You’re not going to win scoring 46 points,” Collins said. “We got to get better on that end of the floor. We got to get ourselves ready and run a quick prep to go up to Maryland and get another opportunity.”

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