The Wisconsin Badgers started out strong but it looked like they changed uniforms at halftime. Coming out of the halftime break, it was Purdue that out-hustled and out-played Wisconsin on their own home floor and pulled out a 69-56 win over the Badgers.
The loss all but eliminated the Badgers from Big Ten title contention. They’re in a 4-way tie for second place in the Big Ten with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. They’re all 2-games behind front-running Indiana with 2-games left to play. The Hoosiers, with their win on Saturday, locked up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
Jared Berggren scored 13 points to lead the Badgers but he hit just 1 0f 6 three-point
attempts. He’s hitting just 18% from distance on the season. The Badgers, after making 6 of their first 10 from beyond the arc, missed their final 18 attempts.
Wisconsin jumped out to a 32-19 lead and it looked like it was going to be another one of those Kohl Center beat downs. Wisconsin shot 50% from the field in the first half, then cooled off considerably, hitting just 29.6% from the field in the second half.
D.J. Byrd scored 16 of his 22 in the second half as Purdue went on a 21-3 run to pull away. The Boilermakers outscored the Badgers in the paint (26-18) and off turnovers (18-6). The Boilermakers also won the rebounding battle, 39-27.
The loss means the Badgers have little chance of a Big Ten regular season title. Indiana has already clinched at least a tie for the title and would need to lose twice with a pair of Badgers wins in the final week for Wisconsin to draw even.
The Badgers close out at Michigan State on Thursday night and at Penn State on Saturday.
The Badgers got out-played by the Boilermakers and you can point to several areas that led to the defeat. Teams like Wisconsin that rely on the three-point basketball so much, are bound to have a cold shooting night from time to time.
When is Jared Berggren going to stop shooting the 3 like a player that’s making them. Coach Bo Ryan continues to provide excuses for Berggren by saying he hits them in practice all the time. Great, but that counts for nothing. The fact of the matter is, Berggren isn’t making them in games. In Big Ten play, Berggren is
8-for-44 (18%) from beyond the arc. Six 3-point attempts for an 18% shooter is too much.
Berggren has been rock solid in the paint. The Badgers needed more from Berggren in the post. When Wisconsin got the ball to Berggren down there, he was winning that battle. Some of the 3-point misses as a team came down the stretch when the Badgers were trying to play catch-up. But this was a problem the entire second half.
It goes without saying the Badgers need to make 3’s if they’re going to be successful. But they need more balance inside and Berggren is the player that can carry that out.
We’ll see what happens Thursday night at Michigan State.