The Wisconsin Badgers could really be 5-0 in conference play entering a tough week facing Maryland on Monday and undefeated No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 19.
Alas, two consecutive home losses now mark the record of Greg Gard’s squad, which has lost three of four and needs to rebound quickly from Friday night’s 84-80 overtime loss to Purdue as it prepares to take on the Terps in College Park.
Here are some quick takeaways from the loss that, honestly, are pretty apparent. A quick note: I am not including a discussion on free throws (11 of 19 against Purdue) as that has been a common theme this season.
You can’t win if you turn the ball over
By gosh, that’s cliché as heck … but that’s what happens with Wisconsin basketball (and Wisconsin football).
The Badgers committed 16 turnovers in the loss, with the Boilermakers notching 20 points off of them.
When asked for his gut feeling if those 16 were unforced, Ethan Happ admitted he didn’t “know what my gut is saying.”
“I know that I had eight of them, and there’s a lot of them that I could have controlled and done better. I guess we’re going to have to go back and watch the film for the rest of them.”
Head coach Greg Gard was asked a similar question later on.
“I’ll watch the film, but watching live, yes,” Gard said. “I’ll have a better vision, but yeah, from my vantage point, we’ll have to go through the film and dissect it and why. We had been so good in that area, and to have that rear its ugly head, so to speak, was obviously disappointing.”
Wisconsin allowed Purdue to grab too many offensive rebounds
Seventeen of Purdue’s 39 rebounds were on the offensive boards, extending possessions for Matt Painter’s team. It could have gotten a lot uglier for the Badgers, as the Boilermakers only scored 12 second-chance points. However, Purdue shot 10 more field goals and 11 more free throws.
A tangent: Wisconsin actually shot better percentage-wise in field goals overall, three-pointers (56.3 percent to 44.0), and free throws (barely, but hey, a win’s a win.)
Purdue simply had more opportunities to put the ball in the basket, and it did.
Carsen Edwards and Happ are phenomenal
Edwards scored a game-high 36 points—yes, on 10-of-26 shooting, but he also hit 10 of 14 free throws. He showed why he is one of the best guards in the nation, and at times when Wisconsin pulled close with a possession, he hit a key basket, or at the end, free throw.
“He’s a really good player, probably one of the best in the country. Definitely is one of the best in the country,” sophomore guard Brad Davison said. “He’s a great competitor, he’s extremely fast and he has a lot of lift on his shots, so even if you’re there, you’re not necessarily always contesting it. He always kind of has a clear-looking basket. You know it’s a team defensive assignment, you need a lot of help and a lot of gap around him. You know what, great players have great games, and he had one tonight.”
On the flip side, Happ scored a team-high 31 points—18 in the first half alone—and was efficient with his shots. He made 14 of 17 field goals and recorded yet another double-double by pulling down 13 rebounds. He dished out six assists, but as we mentioned earlier, he also committed eight turnovers, a number that has to be brought down in order for Wisconsin to succeed.