Northwestern men’s basketball (14-10, 5-6 B1G) defeated the host Wisconsin Badgers (10-14, 3-8 B1G) by a score of 60-52. It was a game that saw the Wildcats get an early and dominant lead, then manage to keep it the whole way through despite some issues in the second half.
The first half was a ridiculous battle of momentum. Northwestern started the game off strong with a 18-1 start in under seven minutes, showing efficiency on both sides of the court. The Badgers would eventually gain some life and respond immediately with a 10-1 run, before the Wildcats decided to maintain control yet again.
Wisconsin found openings in Northwestern’s defense late in the opening half, but the scoring for the ‘Cats remained strong enough (16-for-24 on first half field goals) to carry a 37-26 lead into the break. Bryant McIntosh (10 points, 4 assists) had a muted start with only two points on 1-3 shooting, though throughout he managed to move into 7th all-time in assists in Big Ten history. Instead, Dererk Pardon (17 points) led the team after 20 minutes with 11 points on 5-5 shooting. He finished the game a perfect 8-8 from the floor.
The rim appeared to narrow for Northwestern in the second half. They only scored five points in the first eight minutes, and were unable to recreate any sort of magic that they started the first half with. But the Badgers weren’t able to apply enough offensive pressure to take advantage of the opportunity, despite the opportunities they had both around the rim and with wide-open shots. A particularly bad moment for Wisconsin was fouling Aaron Falzon (2 points) to give him three free throws amid the Wildcats’ scoring troubles (he would make the latter two).
Though the Wisconsin would finally apply pressure in the late game, it was too little, too late. Both teams showed sloppy play occasionally, sometimes on consecutive drives (McIntosh commited 7 of the team’s 14 turnovers), but ultimately the Wildcats came away with a win they badly needed.
Northwestern will take on #24 Michigan at home on February 6th to try and avenge their recent 47-58 loss to the Wolverines.