Wisconsin will have little time to savor its upset of the third-ranked team in the country as the high-scoring Iowa Hawkeyes roll into Madison, Wis., for a Big Ten Conference match-up on Thursday night.
No. 23 Wisconsin (11-2, 2-1 Big Ten) registered a huge 74-69 road victory over No. 3 Purdue on Monday behind Johnny Davis’ career highs of 37 points and 14 rebounds.
Iowa (11-3, 1-2) is coming off an 80-75 victory at home over Maryland on Monday behind 35 points from Keegan Murray, the nation’s leading scorer, who was 5 of 6 from beyond the arc.
In addition to featuring two of the top players in the conference, the game also presents a contrast in styles. The Hawkeyes average 87.4 points per game, the second-best in the nation, while allowing 70.5. The Badgers, whom coach Greg Gard describes as “gritty, not pretty,” average 70.6 points per game, while giving up 63.6. Wisconsin held Purdue to a season-low 24 points in the first half.
Davis, a sophomore guard who was not on the preseason all-Big Ten team, made 13 of 24 shots against Purdue to surpass his previous career best of 30 points. Brad Davison added 15 points for the Badgers, who won for just the fifth time in 47 games against the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena.
Wisconsin won despite centers Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt and forward Tyler Wahl all fouling out. The Badgers, who have been hampered by illness and injury, also had their entire roster available for the first time since early December.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Gard said after the Purdue game. “There’s the grit. I’ve said it for those who’ve followed us all year: This group has an abundance of that. The resolve, and that helped them when things aren’t quite going well. It’s not always perfect, but they continue to battle and find a way.”
Davis leads the Badgers with 22.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Davison averages 14.5 points per game and has connected on a team-high 33 3-pointers.
Wisconsin rallied from 22 down to beat Indiana and a 16-point deficit to defeat Texas A&M. The Badgers are 6-1 in games decided by five points or less, with the only loss to Providence in mid-November, a game in which Davis did not play.
The Hawkeyes have won four straight after dropping three in a row in early December.
Iowa has won the last four against Wisconsin, including a 77-62 victory last season at Madison when the Hawkeyes overcame a 32-26 halftime deficit.
Murray averages 24.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Patrick McCaffery averages 11.3 points, and Jordan Bohannon 10.7, with a team-best 32 made 3-pointers.
“The thing about him is that he never forces anything,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Murray after the Maryland game. “He just kind of plays at his pace. We’re going to go to him at times, and at times it’s going to come to him naturally. He wasn’t hunting shots, he played defense. He got three blocks, eight rebounds. He got to the offensive glass, obviously a big one late. That’s just who he is. He doesn’t rattle.”
–Field Level Media