Rapid Recap: Northwestern 66, Wisconsin 63


Alyce Brown/Daily Senior Staffer

Boo Buie dribbles the ball. Buie led all scorers in Monday’s contest with 20 points.

Aayushya Agarwal, Reporter

After an eight-day layoff, Northwestern (13-5, 4-3 Big Ten) returned to the court in an emphatic way, outlasting Wisconsin, (12-6, 4-4 Big Ten) in an intense defensive battle, 66-63 snapping its two-game losing streak. 

Both teams started slow offensively, aggregating fifteen points within the first five minutes. Consecutive jumpers by redshirt senior guard Chase Audige ensured the Wildcats remained even at nine after the first four media timeouts.

Apart from the first minute, NU led for the entirety of the first half. Back-to-back steals by senior guard Boo Buie and sophomore guard Julian Roper II enabled the Cats to gain momentum on the offensive end. Going off this momentum, Roper fired a corner three to extend the squad’s lead. The sophomore guard and Audige were central forces for NU’s attack, recording 14 of the Cats’ 32 points in the first period.

Over the course of the first half, the team continued to force contested Wisconsin jumpers, leading to steals on loose balls. Senior forward Robbie Beran spearheaded a chase down block on a Badgers’ shooter, giving NU’s defense some reprieve late into the half. While the Cats had multiple scoring droughts across the first half, continued persistence on the defensive end ensured the Cats held a 32-26 advantage by intermission. 

The Badgers opened the second half on a 8-0 run, causing the Cats to face their first deficit since the first minute of the game. Throughout the second half, both teams continued to vie for the lead, resulting in a much tighter second half. Down the stretch, driving layups by both Buie and sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer — along with multiple defensive stands — propelled the Cats to victory. 


  1. Northwestern’s veterans lead on the offensive end 

While both teams struggled on the offensive end, contributions from Audige and Buie ensured the Cats maintained their lead throughout the game. After scoring five quick points, Roper II exited the game early due to an ankle injury — the Cats needed to find their offense elsewhere. Both Audige and Buie did just that, tying a game-high with nine points each and combining for 18 of NU’s 32 first half points. 

Both New York natives propelled the offensive during different moments over the first half. Audige caught fire early, burying a pull up jumper giving the Cats their first points of the game at the 17 minute mark. The redshirt senior guard followed that with a pull up three, ultimately scoring the first five of seven points for NU by the first four media timeout, finishing with sixteen points in the contest. 

Buie, on the other hand, started ticking the scoreboard during the later half of the first half. A pump fake floater followed by a driving-and-one layup led the Cats to their highest lead of the first half at eight with under a minute to go. The senior guard scored all nine of his first half points in the last eight minutes of the half, leading all scorers Monday with 20 points, while corralling seven rebounds. 

  1. The Wildcats continued to ramp up the defensive pressure against Wisconsin 

With the extended layoff, there might have been questions about whether NU could continue to match the defensive intensity that has propelled them throughout the first half of the season.

If anything, the Cats had an even stronger defensive showing than in recent games. Over the course of the first half, NU defenders forced Badgers shooters into off-balanced and contested jumpers. By the intermission, the Cats held Wisconsin to merely 26 points on ten-for-twenty-seven shooting from the field and four-for-twelve from deep. 

NU continued to have active hands in the passing lanes as well, which led to offense on the other end. A steal by Buie led to a fast transition down the court to give junior guard Ty Berry an open look at the rim.

  1. Getting to the charity stripe ensures Northwestern’s offense remains stead

A physical and slow-paced game made it difficult for the Cats’ offense to get going early. In the first half, NU was only able to manage two made threes on seven attempts. At the same time, the Cats had multiple scoring droughts throughout the first half. Nonetheless, NU did not lose its lead over the course of the first half, largely because of its ability to get to the charity stripe. 

Through effective ball movement and their continuous ability to drive to the basket, the Cats forced several Badger fouls during the early stages of the first half. This enabled NU to get into the bonus by the eight-minute mark of the first half. 

After a Badger three saw the Cats’ once eight-point lead shrink to three at the five-minute mark of the first half, the need to score offensively was evident. Buie’s ability to get to the charity stripe fueled the group to do enough on the offensive end. Going five-for-five from the line, Buie’s squad scored eight of its final ten points of the half from the charity stripe. Ultimately, free throw disparities between both teams were a driving factor toward NU’s six-point lead at the break. While the Badgers went two-for-three from the line, the Cats went ten-for-eleven. Down the stretch in the second half, free throws by junior center Matthew Nicholson and Beran, led NU to a nearly perfect eight-for-nine from the charity stripe.

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