No. 15 Wisconsin got big nights from Johnny Davis and Brad Davison to get past Indiana 74-69 on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall.
Player of the Game: Johnny Davis
Who else but Johnny Davis in this spot? The sophomore guard put on another show in a season full of them. Davis had a team-high 30 points, his third game this year with 30 or more points. That included the final 13 points of the game as the Badgers went from down five to winning by five. He was extremely efficient, getting those points on just 15 shots. As he has for much of the year, Davis made some heavily contested shots and finished through contact at the rim.
That performance allowed him another chance to tell the home fans it was time to go home.
Some people had written Davis off as a potential national player of the year contender following a month of subpar shooting. But he has come back in force the last three games, averaging 22 points on 68.3% shooting and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The good: The grit
If you were to look back at the recaps we have done for games this year, the use of the word grit would likely be featured prominently. But that does not make the guts and fight this Wisconsin team has any less impressive. The Badgers have shown that all year long and it was on display again Tuesday night. Down 54-47 to a desperate team fighting for its NCAA Tournament life and with Assembly Hall rocking, Wisconsin answered with a 27-15 run to finish the game off.
The Badgers are now 12-1 in games decided by six points or fewer. Some of that is bounces going your way, but that much evidence also suggests the team is at its best when backed into a corner and forced to fight its way out.
The not so good: The bench
It is a good thing Wisconsin got 51 points combined from Brad Davison and Davis because the lack of bench production on the offensive end continues to be non-existent. Coach Greg Gard got just two points from the reserves, which came on a pair of Chris Vogt free throws. None of the bench guys had a positive plus/minus, with Ben Carlson being a staggering -19 in just 13 minutes.
Certainly, the game is more than scoring, but having the starters carry such a big load, something they have done all year, is far from ideal. It is also something that is unlikely to change at this point in the season.
Stat of the Game: 22-for-29 (75.9%)
That is what Wisconsin shot from the free throw line. The makes and attempts were the most in a Big Ten game this year and included a 10-for-10 effort from Davison and Davis hitting 10 of 14. It was a welcome sight after three tough games at the stripe.
— Davison was tagged with a flagrant foul in the second half after appearing to hit or scratch Indiana’s Parker Stewart. The contact appeared to be incidental but the officials went to the monitor and said otherwise.
— Davison kind of snapped out of his cold streak from distance, going 3-for-8 on 3-pointers. He ended up with 21 points and seven rebounds
— The victory guaranteed the Badgers a winning record in Big Ten play for a 20th time in the last 22 years, the most of any conference team in that stretch.
— After having just two wins at Assembly Hall from 1971 to 2001, the Badgers have 10 wins in the last 20 seasons.
— With the win, Wisconsin moved into a tie with Purdue for second in the Big Ten and one game back of Illinois with five games remaining.
Wisconsin (20-5, 11-4) hosts Michigan (13-10, 6-7) on Sunday at the Kohl Center