Surging Badgers wallop Wildcats
Jared Berggren and Ben Brust each scored 12 points, and No. 19 Wisconsin shut down Northwestern 69-41 on Wednesday night in Evanston for its fifth win in six games.
The balanced Badgers (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten) had five players with at least eight points and held the Wildcats to 29-percent shooting during a very businesslike performance. Brust, who missed the last two days of practice with a sore left knee, and Berggren also had eight rebounds apiece as Wisconsin enjoyed a 47-22 edge on the boards.
Reggie Hearn scored 13 for Northwestern (13-14, 4-10), which has dropped four in a row and six of seven. The Wildcats, who have lost four players to season-ending injuries, went 8 for 24 from 3-point range, but managed just seven field goals from inside the arc.
Wisconsin snapped a tie with No. 7 Michigan for third in the loaded Big Ten and moved within a game of fourth-ranked Michigan State for the second spot. The Badgers are now off until they host Nebraska on Tuesday, while the Wolverines and Spartans each play on Sunday.
It was the only scheduled meeting of the season for the Wildcats and Badgers, but Berggren and Co. will return to the area next month for the conference tournament at the United Center.
This trip was certainly a productive one.
Wisconsin opened the game with a 9-0 run and led 28-12 at intermission, holding Northwestern to 20 percent shooting and a season-low point total for any half. The Badgers also had a 23-8 rebounding edge at the break.
Traevon Jackson helped key the fast start with a nice block on a 3-point attempt by Dave Sobolewski. Brust caught the loose ball and sent it up the court for Jackson, who converted the easy layup during the Badgers' opening spurt.
Jackson tacked on a nice pullup jumper at the halftime horn for Wisconsin, which held Ohio State to 38-percent shooting in an impressive 71-49 victory in its previous game.
Northwestern's numbers at the break were bleak all-around. It had just one field goal inside of the arc, and Hearn went 1 for 2 in its only trip to the free-throw line with 1:27 to go.
The Wildcats looked a little better on offense at the start of the second half, closing to 31-19 on Tre Demps' 3-pointer with 17:46 left. But the Badgers responded with an 8-2 spurt and led by 28 at the final buzzer.
Sam Dekker had 10 points for Wisconsin, and Jackson finished with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Ohio St. 71, Minnesota 45: Deshaun Thomas overcame a slow start to score 19 points and No. 18 Ohio State used a 16-0 second-half run to beat Minnesota in Columbus, Ohio.
The teams came into the night in dire need of a Big Ten win. Both had lost three of their last four, and each was humiliated on the road on Sunday. The Golden Gophers (18-9, 6-8 Big Ten) were pounded at Iowa, 72-51, while Ohio State (19-7, 9-5) wasn't a factor over the final 35 minutes in a 71-49 rout by Wisconsin.
Shannon Scott added 11 points and LaQuinton Ross 10 for the Buckeyes, who have won the last six meetings with the Golden Gophers overall and the last six in Columbus.
Andre Hollins had 11 points and Oto Osenieks 10 for Minnesota, which had a season-high 24 turnovers and shot just 29 percent from the field (14 of 48).