Another close game, another loss. It has been the story of Wisconsin’s season, and tonight was no different. Despite going back-and-forth with Temple for the entire 40 minutes, Wisconsin lost 59-55. With 1:43 to play, the score was tied at 55. Ethan Happ got blocked (fouled) by Temple’s Obi Enechionyia, and then gave up two free throws on the other end. Wisconsin’s last gasp ended after a Kobe King missed three-pointer with seven seconds.
Happ led Wisconsin with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Nobody else on Wisconsin scored in double-digits although Khalil Iverson had nine. Brad Davison and Aleem Ford had eight apiece.
Wisconsin will continue its brutal schedule with a must-win home game against Marquette on Saturday.
Trice continues to show his inexperience
Let me preface this by saying that blaming Trice is unfair. He is a true sophomore starting point guard for the most inexperienced Wisconsin Basketball team in a long time. There were obviously going to be some growing pains. However, he needs to grow up quick if Wisconsin is going to salvage this season.
For the second game in a row, Trice had to be pulled at the end of a close game for making a bad decision with the ball. That just can’t happen. But it isn’t only an end of game problem. Trice just seems lost running the point. He isn’t moving the ball quickly, he is making bad decisions, he isn’t shooting well, and he is forcing it too much on offense. Point guard is the most important position on the court, and the Badgers need him to be far better than he has been.
Refs were atrocious
Ethan Happ gets annihilated on one end, no call. Then on the other end gets called for a foul because his jersey brushed Alston.
— Jeff (BPredict) (@BPredict) December 7, 2017
I’m not making any excuses for the loss, but the refs were really bad in this game. It all started with the ridiculous flagrant-1 call against Brevin Pritzl that gifted Temple two points. There were also two plays down the stretch where Obi Enechionyia fouled Happ at the rim, but the refs didn’t call it. That’s not to mention the ticky-tack rebounding foul call on Happ that wiped out an And-1 opportunity. But again, no excuses. Home teams get calls. It’s one of the reasons winning on the road is so tough to do in college basketball. But that doesn’t take away the sting.
Junior big men didn’t play
Andy Van Vliet, Charles Thomas, and Alex Illikainen played a combined zero minutes today. Instead, former walk-on and mop-up duty specialist Aaron Moesch was the one that received the minutes in the front court not claimed by Happ, Reuvers, Ford, or Iverson. That is a clear message to the three junior big men. Either step up, or ride the bench for the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see if they respond to the challenge by elevating their play, or if they will transfer out at some point this season.
Wisconsin can’t finish close games
Wisconsin was tied with No. 15 Xavier with two minutes left. They trailed No. 22 Baylor by two points with 2:20 to play. They were up by one to No. 23 UCLA with 15 seconds left. Today, they were tied against a good Temple team on the road at the 1:09 mark. They lost all four of those games.
Again this isn’t a bad team by any stretch. They played four tough games against four really good teams. But the story was the same in all of them. They just failed to execute down the stretch. This is a young team, and figuring out how to win close games will eventually come. But for the Badgers NCAA Tournament hopes, they need it to come very quickly.
D’Mitrik Trice: D
He had three points on 1-6 shooting. He didn’t run the point very effectively either.
Brad Davison: B-
He had eight-points in the first half, but didn’t score in the second. He needs to pick his spots better when trying to take charges. He cost the Badgers today down the stretch by trying to flop.
Khalil Iverson: B+
He played with a lot of energy today. He had a huge offensive rebound and put back in crunch time.
Aleem Ford: B-
He played solid defense and drilled a couple three-pointers. You know, the usual.
Ethan Happ: A
He had 23 points on 11/19 shooting, but two of those misses were clear fouls. He put the team on his back today.
Kobe King: C
He had a couple offensive rebounds, but was 1/5 shooting. He also forced a contested three-pointer at the end of the game with time for a better shot.
Nate Reuvers: C-
Struggled with his shot, but once again had some nice moves and rebounds.
Brevin Pritzl: F
If it weren’t for the flagrant foul (bad call), and his two turnovers, I would have forgot he played today.