NEW YORK CITY — Wisconsin moved into the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals Thursday with a 59-54 victory over Maryland at Madison Square Garden.
Player of the Game: The team
No one player stood out for Wisconsin and that was just fine. The Badgers got contributions from up and down their lineup in the win. Four players scored in double figures, but none had more than Ethan Happ’s 14. The junior center also led the way with seven rebounds, but juniors Khalil Iverson and Brevin Pritzl each had six. It was a group effort on both ends of the floor for Wisconsin, which won for a fifth time in its last seven games.
The good: The defense
Wisconsin wouldn’t have won a game like this a month ago. Actually, when you think about it, the Badgers didn’t. Back on Feb. 4 against this same Maryland team, the shots weren’t falling and they weren’t good enough on the other end to overcome it. On Thursday, they were. They had a stretch in the first half where they didn’t make a shot for 9:21, yet still led by two at the half. They had smaller stretches in the second half where they couldn’t make anything but never lost the lead. And then, needing one stop to get the win in the final seconds, Iverson stepped in front of a lazy pass for a game-clinching steal.
“That definitely is the difference between the team early in the season and the team now,” Happ said.
The not so good: 3-point shooting
Neither team could find much luck from beyond the arc going a combined 5 of 32 from deep. That included the Badgers going 3 of 18. It was their worst performance since going 1 for 14 against Illinois on Jan. 19.
Stat of the game: 20 of 24
That’s what Wisconsin shot from the free throw line on Thursday. The 83.3-percent effort was the second-best of the season, and it was obviously vital considering the shooting struggles from the field. Even Happ, who shot 53.9-percent this season, was on the mark, going 6 of 7.
What they said:
“Oh, yeah. Not just Michigan State. I think you always want to play against the top teams. They are arguably one of the top teams in the country. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
— Davison on getting to see Michigan State in the quarterfinals after losing to the Spartans last Sunday.
“Yeah, for sure. I’m ready to rock. Pretty sure all of us are. It’s fresh in our memories…Just have to go out and get it now.”
— Pritzl on being excited to see Michigan State again.
In Case You Missed It:
- Wisconsin had just seven turnovers and have had 10 or fewer in six of the last seven games.
- The Badgers moved to 3-2 all-time at Madison Square Garden.
- Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst attended the game, as did athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Wisconsin (15-17, 7-11) will take on Michigan State (28-3, 16-2) in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday with tip coming at 11 a.m. (CT).