In my preview of the game yesterday, I laid out three areas that I felt would ensure a Badger victory. Let’s see how they did.
Crowl, Crowl, and more Crowl: This really pertained to the whole front court, which performed admirably last night. Even though Crowl wasn’t the leading scorer, he was incredibly efficient in his game. No three-point attempts led the team in rebounding while being hampered with early foul trouble.
While I don’t think Wahl is anywhere close to 100% recovered from his ankle injury over a month ago, he easily had his best game since that mishap on January 3. He also led all players with 42 minutes on the court. Not bad for a guy whose abilities are still slightly diminished.
The Badgers absolutely controlled the interior. While they still were slightly outrebounded, those boards were gathered up by athletic guards. Penn State shoots so many 3-pointers that their offensive rebounds are a bit longer, allowing their tall guards to grab them.
Wisconsin, by comparison, got 14 of their 26 rebounds, 53.9% of their total from the two Badger starting forwards. Those two also combined to go 11-16, a blistering 68.8% percent from the field.
Overall, I give the Badgers a solid A for interior play.
Wisconsin basketball fundamentals: Even the season-long problems of the Badgers was lessened last night. In my article, I talked about making up their missed foul shots in the aggregate. Knowing that they are still going to shoot poorly, Wisconsin just needed to get to the foul line more, in order to overcome the missed shots.
Last night, they got to the charity stripe 19 times. In the first 14 games Wisconsin basketball played this year, they averaged 14.4 attempts per game and they were 12-2. Only once in their dismal 2-9 stretch did they attempt more foul shots than this evening. The game? Wisconsin’s win over Ohio State.
Covering more fundamentals, they continued to protect the basketball, with only three unforced turnovers and eight overall. They won this battle as they were able to make Penn State, the nation’s leader at 8.6 turnovers per game, commit 11.
Overall, I think Wisconsin earned a B for its fundamental play.
Taking advantage of Penn State’s misfortune: When Wisconsin basketball takes a lead into the locker room this season, they are a perfect 10-0. When losing at the halftime intermission, they are 3-9.
As you can see, getting the halftime lead has been critical to the success of the Badgers this year. So last night’s six-point lead going into the second stanza takes on a whole new level of importance.
They were able to draw 21 personal fouls, almost six more than the 15.4 that Penn State averages. Combined with the increased turnovers, Wisconsin definitely took advantage of a favorable situation.
Wisconsin was able to take Penn State’s game and shove it right back at them. They outshot the Nittany Lions, got them to turn it over more than their average, and got them to foul more.
The Badgers get another solid A for this category.