Wisconsin versus Northwestern: The Badgers lose to the Wildcats for the first time since ’95-96

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The Badgers lost to the Wildcats at home at the Kohl Center. It was a close game, with the Badgers losing 52-54. Wisconsin’s record is now 13-10 in the regular season. The Wildcats swept the season series with Wisconsin for the first time since the 1995-96 season. Wisconsin has had a tough go after their winning streak at the beginning of the season.

Recap: Northwestern 54 – Wisconsin 52 – 2/5/23 | WGN Radio 720 - Chicago's Very Own

Photo Cred: USA Today

There was a time when the Wisconsin Badgers ranked among the best in the nation, and fans were excited about the possibility and future of the team. However, the Badgers were 11-2, are now 13-10, and losing momentum and losing their spot as a contender in the NCAA tournament. Many fans have written off the Badgers even before this game, but Badgers Basketball Legend Brian Butch responds to the statement that they aren’t enough time to turn the season around:

Now, some things are happening with this team that isn’t good. People saying, ‘Fire Gard.’ are irresponsible. It’s been a lack of depth issue. Johnny Davis is gone, Bowman left the team, and Carlson decided to leave. Badger fans who didn’t realize that didn’t do their homework to start the year. Every team has some warts. Wisconsin is not playing great but has ten games left in the Big Tournament.

Northwestern sweeps Wisconsin for first time since '95-96 - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Photo Cred: WGN Radio

Wisconsin started this game with seven consecutive points and took a 49-48 jumper by Chucky Hepburn with 3:21 to go. The Wildcat’s Chase Audgie put the wildcats back on top 50-49 with 2:55 remaining. Crazy that with almost three minutes left in the game, Audgie’s shot would be the last basket of the game for the Wildcats. The rest of the game consisted of turnovers, off-jumpers, and missed free throws.

Hepburn made a clutch jumper to give the Badgers a 51-50 lead with 45 seconds remaining. Northwestern responded with two free throws to put Northwestern back in the lead, 52-51, and 31 seconds left. Barnhizer blocked a potential layup by Hepburn with 20 seconds left. Northwestern held onto the lead, despite missing a 1-and-1 opportunity. Hepburn’s missed jumper with six seconds left was Wisconsin’s last chance to take the lead.

Northwestern sweeps Wisconsin for first time since '95-96 | National Sports | meridianstar.com

Photo Cred: Wisconsin Badgers Athletics

Despite Hepburn missing critical shots at the end of the game, he did lead the team with points, scoring 17 points for Wisconsin. Connor Essegian scored 15 total points. All on 5-of-11 3-point shooting. The Badgers ended the week 1-1 after defeating Ohio State in a 65-60 game. Wisconsin’s offense couldn’t execute early on. It didn’t make it any easier than Northwester double-teamed the Badger’s big men whenever they touched the ball in the paint, which led to Wisconsin having to kick out to open shooters, but Wisconsin was not hitting their shots at a high rate.

Men's Basketball | Wisconsin Badgers

Photo Cred: USA Today

There is a clear difference when the starters for Wisconsin are on the court versus when the bench is playing. Carter Gilmore and Jordan Davis aren’t good shooters. It forces the others on the court to create as the shot clock goes down.

Hepburn continued his trend of poor shot selection, especially during the last few minutes when it mattered the most. Hepburn took Wisconsin’s last four shots, making just one. Hepburn was vital to Wisconsin’s game and success, but once again struggled with the game in the balance.

Defense and supporting cast shine in Northwestern's 54-52 versus Wisconsin

Photo Cred: USA Today

Wisconsin plays Penn State away. If they want to win this game, they need to close out close games. Which means they need more ball movement and less single movement from Hepburn, their star shooting guard.

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