MADISON, Wis. – Thank goodness for second halves.
No. 17 Wisconsin (7-2) went from shooting 30 percent from the field at one point in the first half to a scorching 52.4 percent in the second to beat Oklahoma (5-2) 90-70 at the Kohl Center on Saturday.
The win marks the Badgers’ fifth straight at home this season. Here’s what we learned.
The floodgates opened, so to speak, on both offense and defense. Right around the time the Badgers defense figured out how to dismantle Oklahoma’s fast break, they also caught some serious fire on the other end of the floor. Taking the lead for the first time in the second half required both — so did hanging onto it.
WHAT IT MEANS:
Wisconsin isn’t a one-speed team. Historically, the Badgers have been the ones no fast-breaking team wants to play because they force a much slower pace. Against Oklahoma, though, Wisconsin showed it was perfectly capable of going up a gear or two if that what it takes. In the end, it was the Sooners who were struggling to keep up.
The Badgers shooters, but only when as a team, reached DEFCON 5. Through most of the first half, Wisconsin was lingering around 30 percent from the field. It was 42.4 at the break thanks to some sharp shooting by Nigel Hayes. He drilled a 3 and a mid-range jumper to pull the Badgers to close a gap that was getting a little to wide for comfort before the end of the half.
He had more than doubled his point total in the second, finishing with 28 total. Others continued the hot-hand trend as well until the Badgers’ defensive stops caught up with the number of shots they were draining.
The Badgers finished with just 24 points in the paint and the Sooners’ defense had everything to do with it. Oklahoma wouldn’t even let a post-entry pass sneak by untouched, much less gave up anything close to an uncontested shot.
Ethan Happ found a way to fight through it toward the end of the first half and finished the game with 16 points, but for most of the game’s first 20 minutes, rising up and throwing down was just about the only option they had. Khalil Iverson had that covered and made mama Iverson proud in the process.
My kid… getem Khalil ??RT @BadgerMBB: ???
Khalil’s knocking. pic.twitter.com/nkkJlkcWca
— Tracey Iverson M. Ed (@mrsive818) November 27, 2016
WHO WAS THERE:
We didn’t see a stage, but there were some Academy Award-worthy performances out there today.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 3, 2016
The Badgers host Idaho State on Wednesday at the Kohl Center. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET, and ESPN3 will broadcast the game.