It may have been one of the coldest stretches the state of Wisconsin has ever seen temperature wise this past week, but that didn’t keep the Wisconsin Badgers from continuing their hot start to the season. Wisconsin faced two ranked Big Ten opponents this past week, 22nd ranked Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday and on Wednesday they faced off against the Illinois Fighting Illini who were ranked 23rd at the time.
Both games were at the Kohl Center and even though the Badgers came away with victories in each of them, they got there in two totally different ways.
On Sunday the Badgers looked like they were well on their way to the season’s first loss as they came out cold as the bitter Wisconsin weather in the first half. The Badgers could not do anything on the offensive end of the floor, failing to score on 12 of their first 13 shots, and had trouble stopping the Hawkeyes on the defensive side as well. At halftime the Badgers were trailing the Hawkeyes 35-24 as things looked like they were going to get ugly at the Kohl Center.
With 12 minutes to go in the game things did get ugly, but for the Hawkeyes and coach Fran McCaffery. That’s when McCaffery was hit with two technical fouls after completely losing his mind when a foul call did not go his teams way. After Fran was ejected the tide definitely turned in the favor for Wisconsin. Ben Brust hit four-straight foul shots following the ejection as the Badgers were able to take the lead 44-41. Iowa would fight and claw the rest of the game but in the end it was Wisconsin who came out with the 75-71 victory.
The win kept the winning streak alive and served as a little wake up call for Wisconsin. The next game against Illinois they responded like any Bo Ryan team would. Blowing out the Illini.
Bucky used a 20-0 run and poor shooting from Illinois to cruise to a 50-25 halftime lead. At one point the Illini missed 13 straight shots and the Badgers certainly took advantage. They wore down Illinois on defense and seemed to score at will on offense. Even though Illinois grabbed more offensive rebounds than Wisconsin, they couldn’t finish and score and let the game get completely out of control.
The Badgers blew Illinois out of the water, winning comfortably 95-70 and improve to an impressive 16-0 mark on the season. Wisconsin was almost able to score 100 points for the second time this season, something you would have never dreamed of with past Bo Ryan teams. Wisconsin had five players score in double figures with Brust leading the way with 18 points, Sam Dekker added 17 and impressive freshman forward Nigel Hayes had 11.
Fun fact from this game, courtesy of ESPN: It’s the fourth time this season Wisconsin has scored at least 50 points in a half. In the past five years combined they only had three such halves.