(5) Wisconsin 70, (4) Northwestern 61: Last word

MINNEAPOLIS — Fifth-seeded Wisconsin erased an 11-point first-half deficit on its way to a 70-61 win over fourth-seeded Northwestern in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday afternoon.

Player of the Game: AJ Storr

AJ Storr has been Wisconsin’s leading scorer more often than not this season. It’s what led to him pacing the Badgers at 16.7 points per game. But he wasn’t always an efficient scorer. On Friday, that’s exactly what he was in posting a career-high 30 points on just 16 shots to make sure Wisconsin made it to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time since 2019. Northwestern had no one that could stay in front of the athletic wing as he got into the lane at will. Once he established his rhythm there, he was able to step outside and knock down three of the five shots he took from deep. The sophomore was also part of a strong defensive effort, limiting the Wildcats to just 37.5% shooting.

The good: Steven Crowl

A day after going 7-for-8 and scoring 17 points in 18 minutes, Crowl put together another strong effort in Wisconsin’s win. He posted 19 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes, while dishing out three assists. He did a bunch of damage from beyond the arc, too, going 3-for-5 and is now shooting 66.7% in the tournament from deep. It is that aggressive nature that his teammates and coaches have been calling for all season and it’s exactly what the Badgers need from the 7-footer to make noise next week when the NCAA Tournament begins.

The not so good: Injuries

Wisconsin played without point guard Chucky Hepburn as he was battling a knee injury from the previous day. That forced John Blackwell into the game, who promptly injured his right ankle in the first half and spent time in the locker room getting treated before returning. Later in the game, Tyler Wahl bumped knees with a Northwestern player while chasing a guy around a screen and also got treatment.

One good thing out of the game, though, was others stepping up. Kamari McGee, Max Klesmit and Blackwell handled the point guard duties for Hepburn, while Markus Ilver helped lessen the loss of Wahl to the injury and foul trouble.

Stat of the Game: 29

That is how many points Northwestern star Boo Buie had as he torched the Badgers. But 16 of those came in the first eight minutes of the game. After that, Wisconsin did a much better job on Buie, especially Klesmit, who got physical and made a significant effort to deny him the ball. That focus forced the Wildcats to trust others to step up and it didn’t happen. Guys not named Buie went 11-for-38 (28.9%) from the field for the game.

In Case You Missed It

— Coach Greg Gard said he found out about 30 minutes before the game that Hepburn was not going to be able to play. His status for Saturday’s game against Purdue is unclear.

— Wisconsin faced an 11-point deficit just eight minutes into the game. The Badgers answered it with a 14-0 to take a 26-23 lead and never trailed again in the game.

— After one of his 3-pointers, Crowl ran back down the court holding three fingers right in the face of the guy that was guarding him.

— This is the first time since 2017 that Wisconsin has won multiple games at the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers have never made it the championship game when they haven’t been a top-4 seed.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (21-12) will face No. 1 seed Purdue (29-3) in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis with tipoff coming at noon.