Wisconsin put together one of its worst offensive performances to date in finishing 23-for-59 (39.0 percent) from the field, marking the second time this year Wisconsin shot 39 percent or less. Simply put the five players on the floor couldn’t buy a basket at times, which caused Wisconsin to rush shots or take shots early in the shot clock. Those are two recipes that haven’t led to a lot of Wisconsin success over the years, but Purdue’s defense consistently swarming on the perimeter or in the low post played a factor.
It appeared Wisconsin had kicked its first half shooting woes (10-for-29) when it hit its first five shots to start the second half. That success couldn’t be sustained, starting when D’Mitrik Trice (four points on 2-for-5 shooting) missed a wide open layup with 14:08 to go. Instead of cutting Purdue’s lead to 40-38, Wisconsin went 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) from the field to end the game, including going five minutes, two second without a field goal.
Despite Purdue consistently playing aggressive on defense, the Badgers found success in the paint and scored 34 of their 55 points came around the basket. Ethan Happ led Wisconsin with 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the field. Happ had to consistently work for each shot but remained active throughout the game to try and keep Wisconsin close. Nigel Hayes was the only other player for Wisconsin to reach double figures with 10 points but went 4-for-12 from the field.
The struggles in the front court meant the Badgers couldn’t consistently generate second chances, finishing the game with seven offensive rebounds and only six points on those opportunities. Wisconsin’s offense could have also taken some pressure off of its front court by having some success from the perimeter, but the Badgers went only 2-for-14 (14.3 percent) from three and 0-for-6 in the second half. Seven different players attempted a three but only Bronson Koenig (nine points) and Zak Showalter (seven points) could connect, as the two went a combined 2-for-7 from three.
The size for Purdue proved to be too much to handle. The combination of Caleb Swanigan (18 points) and Isaac Haas (13 points) combined to shoot 11-for-16 shooting from the field. Their strong play down low (20 points in the paint) allowed other scoring opportunities for Purdue on offense, which finished the game 24-for-46 (52.2 percent) from the field. More impressively was how effectively Purdue moved the basketball against Wisconsin’s defense, registering 16 assists on 24 made field goals.
Wisconsin failed to rotate at times to contest shots, which opened up simple catch-and-shoot opportunities. Dakota Mathias was a big beneficiary with eight points and a game-high seven assists.
Despite five of Purdue’s seven players shooting at least 50 percent from the field, the Badgers forced 18 turnovers, including Happ being a thorn in Swanigan’s side and forcing him to commit eight turnovers. Happ was able to register six of Wisconsin’s nine steals, but the turnovers led to only 14 points.
In addition to Wisconsin struggling to prevent Swanigan and Haas inside, Purdue went 7-for-15 (46.7 percent) from three. Swanigan went 2-for-2, Mathias went 2-for-3 and had three other players knock down at least one three.
Purdue finished the game with only six offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points, but the Boilers shooting better than 50 percent from the field didn’t create many opportunities.
Scoring droughts hurt Wisconsin’s chances to stay in the game, particularly two instances where Wisconsin couldn’t buy a basket in the first half and the other in the second half which it couldn’t recover from.
The first occurred with Wisconsin leading 12-11 with 12:53 under halftime, going 5:40 without a field goal. After a dunk by Khalil Iverson to stop the drought, Wisconsin went another 3:52 without a bucket. Not to mention from 12:53 to the 3:21 mark, Wisconsin went 2-for-12 from the field compared to Purdue shooting 5-for-9. That stretch caused Wisconsin to lose its lead and allowed Purdue to go on a 14-5 run.
Although Wisconsin knocked down three of its final four shots in the first half and its first five shots to begin the second half, the 5:02 drought that ensued allowed Purdue to take full control of the game and build a double-digit lead with the Badgers going 0-for-6 from the field.
Little went right for Wisconsin, but the Badgers - despite the defensive pressure they were put under – only committed nine turnovers. Hayes led Wisconsin with four turnovers, but Purdue cashed Wisconsin’s mistakes into only seven points.
Swanigan dominating Wisconsin down low also meant he had success on the boards, as he registered his eighth straight double-double with 13 rebounds. Wisconsin needed to find ways of generating second-chance points with the way it was struggling the basketball, but Purdue consistently won the 50-50 balls. UW got seven offensive boards but only scored six points off the second chance opportunities. Twelve of Swanigan’s 13 rebounds came on the defensive glass, and his dominance gave Purdue a 34-22 rebounding edge.
Game MVP: Ethan Happ. Happ had his struggles against Purdue but he put together the most consistent performance of the 11 players who saw the floor. Happ had a difficult matchup defending Swanigan but did make life difficult for him at times and was able to find a way to create extra offensive possessions with six steals. With Wisconsin in search of some consistency on offense, it was Happ who took charge in the second half and helped Wisconsin cut Purdue’s lead to four points, assisting or scoring on nine of Wisconsin’s first 13 points to begin the second half. Overall Happ scored 11 of his points in the second half by going 4-for-8 from the field over the last 20 minutes. Simply put Happ was able to do a little bit of everything by leading the team with five rebound, a team-high four assists to two turnovers and one block.