(8) Wisconsin 82, Northwestern 76: Last word

No. 8 Wisconsin took Northwestern’s best shot but survived on the road to get an 82-76 win Tuesday night in Evanston.

Player of the Game: Johnny Davis

Davis put together another huge scoring effort away from home to help the Badgers to a seventh straight win. After a 4-for-18 effort last week against Ohio State, the sophomore was a lot more efficient (8-for-15) on his way to 27 points. Davis did much of his damage after halftime, scoring 17 of his points, grabbing seven rebounds, coming up with two steals and handing out a pair of assists. His night from beyond the arc (4-for-5) stood out, including banking one home in the second half.

At 22.1 points per game, the La Crosse product is well on his way to becoming the first Wisconsin player to average at least 20 points per game since Michael Finley in 1995. Davis also leads the Badgers in rebounding (7.5 per game), assists (2.6 per game) and steals (1.5 per game).

The good: The help

For a second straight game all five Wisconsin starters were in double figures. Tyler Wahl had another solid effort in scoring 14 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and ending up with four assists. Chucky Hepburn finished with 14 points, one off his career high, while Brad Davison added 13 points and four assists. Steven Crowl also hit double digits with 10 points on just four shots.

The not so good: The free throws

Wisconsin ranked second in the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 76% coming into the game, but the Badgers missed five straight in the final minute to give Northwestern hope. Hepburn and Davis each missed two and then Wahl missed one. UW finished just 12-for-21 in the second half and 17-for-26 for the game.

Stat of the Game: 9-for-17 (52.9%)

That was what Wisconsin shot from beyond the arc, easily the best effort of the season. It was actually the first time the Badgers shot better than 50% from deep and just the fifth time all year they were at 40% or better. But two of those have come in the last week, as in the win over Ohio State last Thursday and the win Tuesday night Wisconsin went a combined 19-for-40 on 3-pointers.

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— Northwestern coach Chris Collins was not pleased with the free throw shooting disparity. He spent much of his post-game press conference taking issue with Wisconsin shooting 26 free throws and his team shooting eight. While that difference was significant, the number of fouls called was not as drastic, with the Wildcats being whistled for 18 fouls, including four in the final minute, and the Badgers at 13.

— Davis took a shot to the face that led to a bloody nose in the second half. Officials went to the monitor to review if a foul should have been called and determined there was no intentional contact.

— Wahl left the game in the middle of the second half with an ankle injury but was able to return a few minutes later.

— Wisconsin improved to 9-1 in games decided by six points or less this season.

— With the win, the Badgers moved to 6-1 in Big Ten play. It left them in a tie with Illinois for first place in the conference.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (15-2, 6-1) will host No. 14 Michigan State (14-3, 5-1) at the Kohl Center on Friday night.