Rapid Recap: No. 8 Wisconsin 82, Northwestern 76


Gabe Bider/The Daily Northwestern

Julian Roper II dribbles the basketball. Roper II had seven points and five rebounds in Northwestern’s narrow loss.

Patrick Andres, Sports Editor

Northwestern played host to No. 8 Wisconsin Tuesday at Welsh-Ryan Arena, seeking to keep the momentum from its stunning upset of then-No. 10 Michigan State going. The game marked the first contest played by the Wildcats in front of NU’s student section since March 7, 2020.

The Cats put up a fight before a wired home crowd, but ultimately succumbed 82-78, unable to answer Badgers guard and National Player of the Year candidate Johnny Davis.

Senior forward Pete Nance got the start after missing the Cats’ triumph in East Lansing with an ankle injury and put NU on the scoreboard with a jumper 1:30 into the contest. The Cats picked up where they left off against the Spartans, blitzing the Badgers on defense and jumping out to a 9-4 lead. Wisconsin battled back behind five points from guard Brad Davison and trailed 11-9 at the under-16. NU continued to stay a step ahead of the Badgers, taking a 15-11 advantage into the next media timeout.

Wisconsin rallied and took a 20-18 lead on center Chris Vogt’s dunk with 8:28 left in the first, despite continuing spirited defense from the Cats. Gradually, Davis got into a rhythm, drawing two defenders and opening up teammate Chucky Hepburn for a critical three-pointer.

Hepburn wasn’t done, however, flashing a flair for the dramatic befitting his surname. After redshirt junior guard Chase Audige’s flurry pulled the Cats within three with :04 to play, he pulled up from beyond half-court and drained a three-pointer to double Wisconsin’s lead.

NU took several questionable shots to open the second half, and a layup from forward Steven Crowl stretched the Badgers’ lead to double digits with 18:26 left. The Cats hampered their own cause by incurring five fouls 4:07 into the half, despite a pair of early buckets from freshman guard Julian Roper II.

A pair of free throws from junior guard Boo Buie narrowed Wisconsin’s lead to four with 13:37 to play, but forward Tyler Wahl canned a three to put the Badgers up 61-54 at the under-12. Quality minutes from senior guard Ryan Greer inched NU closer, and a three from Roper II made it 67-62 at the next timeout.

Two free throws gave Davis 20 points and Wisconsin a seven-point lead with seven minutes to play. Davis turned the ball over with 5:12 left, and Nance put up a short turnaround jumper that splashed through on a fortuitous roll. An Audige layup brought the Cats back within five with 2:43 left, at which point Collins called a timeout. Davis immediately knocked down a backbreaking three, and Davison hit another trey to all but seal NU’s fate, despite a rally to within four in the final minute.


  • Audige heats up early

Audige’s scoring has ticked downward slightly in 2022 after he averaged 12.3 points per game in 2021. However, he turned back the clock a year in the first half against the Badgers, flashing some of his 2021 promise. Audige took 10 field goals and knocked down seven, including a pair of three-pointers. His 16 first-half points were just four shy of his season high for any game, and he finished with a season-high 23.

  • Defensive disruption keeps NU within striking distance

Much of Wisconsin’s success this season has hinged on its ability to generate good shots, but NU did a surprisingly good job early of taking this out of the Badgers’ arsenal. Wahl made just two of his eight attempts in the first half, and Wisconsin had to earn its 50% start from the field. This kept the Cats solvent despite a woeful 3-for-11 first half from beyond the arc.

  • Even on an off night, Davis is as advertised

He’s rocketed up draft boards in lockstep with the Badgers’ ascent up the polls, and Davis flashed his NBA-caliber skillset all night. When he wasn’t burning NU himself, he was passing out of double teams to his capable teammates. He finished with 27 points and eight rebounds, even after a brief bloody nose in the second half.

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