Find the edge.
That’s what head coach Greg Gard has been preaching to his team over the last couple of weeks. Wisconsin last played on Dec. 15 against Lehigh after a game set for Dec. 23 against Grambling State, was canceled. The long layoff affected the Badgers in the first half against the Broncos.
Wisconsin only led 29-27 and shot a paltry 4-of-14 from the three-point line in the first half. So, how did Wisconsin flip a switch so quickly in the second half?
Enter Steven Crowl.
Crowl scored a career-high 25 points including 20 in the second half. It turns out all Wisconsin needed to go was get Crowl more involved in the offense.
Crowl said the key in the second half was touching the post more.
“In the second half we put more of an emphasis of getting the ball down low whether it was me, Tyler (Wahl), Chucky (Hepburn) so it’s not necessarily the big guys but once we do get it down there finishing in the paint too,” Crowl said.
Crowl also went 4-of-5 from three-point range.
“I think you’re seeing a player grow up in front of your eyes in terms of maturing and understanding how good he can be,” Gard said about Crowl’s growth. “In the second half, I thought we made a concerted effort consistently to play through the paint and Steve (Crowl) was a recipient, he finished plays I thought he’s playing more physical, more confident and growing into what I think he can be.”
A performance that cannot be understated is Wisconsin’s defense against Bronco’s leading scorer Lamar Norman Jr. A transfer from Duquesne, Norman Jr. was Western Michigan’s leading scorer last season with 19.8 points. Norman Jr. entered th matchup averaging 18.3 points but Wisconsin held him to 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Wisconsin’s offense took care of the basketball: as they committed a season-low four turnovers. All of them were in the first half.
Wisconsin has wrapped up its non-conference slate for the season as they begin their Big Ten schedule at home on Jan. 3 as they take on Minnesota.
Tip-off is scheduled at 8 p.m. (EST) on Big Ten Network.