Ridden with sicknesses and injuries, Wisconsin has not played with a fully healthy roster much of the season. Star player, sophomore guard Johnny Davis was out with a non-COVID-related illness. It’s the third consecutive game a Badgers player has missed due to sickness. Jahcobi Neath, Markus Ilver, and Lorne Bowman II missed the game against Indiana. Bowman and sophomore forward Carter Gilmore were out for the loss to Ohio State. Hopefully, after the break they had, players are rested and healthy. They have extra practices under their belt as they play Morgan State next.
Davis has now missed two games this season. Davis has established himself as one of the best young guards, providing an asset to the offense and defense. Davis has scored at least 20 points in six of his last seven games and ranks 3rd in the Big Ten with 20.9 ppg.
The Badgers played a talented and quick Nicholls State in their last outing. It was, yet again, a slow start for the Badgers as they trailed the Colonels 28-37 to begin the second half. Nicholls State is the 10th fastest team in the country, and their speed and energy outmatched UWs on every level. Last home game, against Indiana, Wisconsin came back from a 22-point deficit after another slow start during the first half.
The Badgers were off to a shaky start defensively. They were in a man-to-man coverage but allowed free outlet passes to Nicholls State post players for easy points. Despite the height advantage of Wisconsin, they also lost the rebound battle. Wisconsin had 33 total rebounds, and Nicholls State had 36.
When asked to rate the defensive execution during the first half, fifth-year senior guard Brad Davidson said, “Not very good, but also one thing we hang our hat on is resilience. They’re a good team, and I think we learned some lessons. Half time for us is a time to talk and make adjustments. It’s a common theme for us.”
Fifth-year senior for Nicholls State, Ty Gordon, seemed unstoppable as he charged the paint, getting through multiple UW players. UW tightened its defense after halftime and limited Nicholls to six lay-ups on eight attempts and 40.6% shooting (13 of 32), compared to the 56.% shooting during the first half. Wisconsin was shooting from the perimeter most of the first half. They have the height and the power to attack the paint but rarely do so. First half UW shot 26.7% from the 3PT and 35.5% from the FG.
The Colonels (7-4) hit 11 of 14 lay-ups in the opening half and 17 of 30 shots overall (56.7%) against a UW team that came in limiting foes to 39.3% shooting. This season, the Badgers are shooting 39.9% from the field. Wisconsin shot just 35.5% in the first half (11 of 31), the Colonels led for most of the first half. The Badgers had their largest lead during the second half at 7 points for 3:26. There were only two lead changes throughout the entire game. UW was only in the led for a total of 12:39.
Wisconsin was only up by three with 4:30 left in the game, and they allowed Nicholls State guard, Ty Gordon, to have an easy drive to the basket. UW held on after Manny Littles grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with 1.5 seconds left and the Colonels down, 71-68. Littles missed the first free throw and then the second after a UW timeout. The ball caromed out to Neath, who dribbled out the final second.
In a 71-68 win, UW had 11 turnovers, and Nicholls State had 9. Coach Gard has still not found his perfect rotation coming off the bench, as his team is young and lacks playing experience. This resilience and grit that UW finds have served them well over the past 11 games.