Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ awoke in the second half, and Wisconsin took full advantage of it in a 71-60 comeback victory over the Maryland Terrapins.
Wisconsin found itself down by six points at the half in large part to shooting just 28 percent from the field. However, UW erased that lead and then some as it finally got two players hot in Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes.
Happ had 20 points once again for UW, but he finally got some help as Nigel Hayes lived at the free throw line and poured in 21 points (9 of 14 from the free throw line).
Wisconsin’s sophomore center, Happ, wouldn’t just get it done scoring either. He would add seven rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks on the day.
UW shot an incredible 51.5 percent from the field in the second half, opening up its big lead with a 19-5 run to start the second half.
If Wisconsin was going to get out of its shooting slump, someone forgot to tell the guys on the court in the first half. Wisconsin had three droughts of 2:30 or longer in the first half and went in to the break shooting just 28 percent.
Maryland was able to shoot 50 percent from the field, but led just 33-27 at the half. That was in large part due to 11 turnovers, which Wisconsin turned in to 11 points.
Wisconsin also added 12 points from the free throw line and six second-chance points to keep the game close at the half.
Hayes led all Badgers in the first half with seven points, but was just 2-of-7 from the field and amazingly was 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.
However, the highlight of the first half came from Brevin Pritzl, who shocked everyone in attendance and those watching at home with a two-handed slam off a great cut.
Pritzl would go on to finish with his best game of the season, pouring in seven points and grabbing seven boards on the day.
However, Prtizl’s slam dunk wasn’t the wake up call. That came later and in private for the Badgers. The wake up call for Wisconsin’ offense finally came at intermission of this contest. Wisconsin came out absolutely on fire and erased Maryland’s lead in less than four minutes.
However, UW’s offense wasn’t the only thing that woke up in the second half. After UW’s 19-5 run to start the second half, Maryland’s Melo Trimble went nuts to try to get his team back in the game.
With UW leading 38-46 with 12:16 to play, Trimble went on to score 12 of Maryland’s next 14 points. However, the Terps couldn’t stop fouling and unlike most of the season, Wisconsin was actually good from the free throw line.
Six made free throws made sure that Wisconsin maintained a lead. Once Trimble cooled off a bit, the Badgers took a four-point lead with 7:21 to play and extended it to a game-high 12 points at 64-52 in less than four minutes of action.
It was a lead that would only get under 10 points again after the game was well in hand with 24 seconds to play.
Just how efficient was Wisconsin’s second half offense? Check this out from Dave Revsine of BTN:
Wisconsin 2nd half – better than 1.4 points per possession. As good as they've looked in quite some time.
— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) February 19, 2017
Trimble was Maryland’s offense on the day, as only Michal Cekovsky (10 points) reached double figures alongside the star guard.
UW’s victory not only puts them even with Purdue at the top of the standings, it puts the pressure squarely back on the Boilermakers after their big win over Michigan State on Saturday afternoon.
Maryland meanwhile must hope that both Purdue and Wisconsin drop a pair of games while they go on to win out to become Big Ten regular season champions.
Certainly it is advantage Wisconsin if they can get the offense they saw in the second half to be the offense that goes the entire game from now on.