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No. 21 Wisconsin uses strong 2nd half to beat Iowa 83-72 for 3rd straight win

Iowa Wisconsin Basketball
Posted at 1:34 PM, Jan 03, 2024

MADISON (AP — Wisconsin’s parade to the free-throw line helped put Iowa in an early hole in Big Ten competition for a second straight season.

Tyler Wahl scored a season-high 19 points and Steven Crowl had a double-double to lead a balanced attack as No. 21 Wisconsin beat Iowa 83-72 on Tuesday night for its third straight victory.

After the game was tied 32-all at halftime, Wisconsin (10-3, 2-0) pulled away by continually working the ball inside. The Badgers shot 58.3% from the floor and went 20 of 26 from the foul line in the second half.

“For us, it's always a point of emphasis, no matter who we play,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “We want to play through the paint.”

Wisconsin's edge from the foul line helped the Badgers win comfortably despite shooting 4 of 16 from 3-point range. The Badgers were 25 of 35 on free-throw attempts, while Iowa was 11 of 16.

“We fouled way too much,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “This team's too good to put on the free-throw line 35 times.”

Iowa is dealing with its second straight 0-3 start in Big Ten competition. The Hawkeyes bounced back from that stumble out of the gates last year to post an 11-9 league record and earn their third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.

The Hawkeyes (8-6, 0-3) had won three straight, posting lopsided victories over Florida A&M, Maryland-Baltimore County and Northern Illinois.

Tony Perkins scored 25 points and Owen Freeman had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Iowa.

Wahl led Wisconsin with an efficient performance, shooting 4 of 6 overall and 11 of 13 on free-throw attempts. He also had eight rebounds.

AJ Storr had 16 points for Wisconsin, and Max Klesmit finished with 15. Crowl added 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

“I think a goal for all of us — not just me and Tyler — is just to pound the paint every game and try to dominate that aspect of the game,” Crowl said.

Wisconsin point guard Chucky Hepburn was in the starting lineup after suffering a lower-body injury in the Badgers’ last game, an 80-53 rout of Chicago State on Dec. 22. He scored four points in 25 minutes and made a couple of huge plays to give Wisconsin a double-digit advantage.

The Badgers led 61-55 when Hepburn got a steal to start a fast break, then sent the ball off the backboard to set up Storr for a dunk. Hepburn followed with another steal and converted it into a driving layup.

“We were fortunate we had the break that we had in terms of the days off and rehab and stuff that he’s been doing,” Gard said. “He’s feeling good, and I thought he did some things, especially in the second half, he got going defensively and sparked us.”

Before the game, a moment of silence was observed in honor of former Milwaukee Bucks owner and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, who died Wednesday at the age of 88. Kohl donated $25 million to the University of Wisconsin to help fund construction of the Kohl Center, home to the Badgers’ men’s and women’s basketball teams and men’s hockey team since the facility opened in January 1998.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: The Hawkeyes' foul trouble also kept their leading scorer off the floor for much of the game. Ben Krikke, who was averaging a team-high 17 points coming into the day, scored 10 while playing just 20 minutes due to foul trouble.

Wisconsin: Klesmit's scoring punch was a welcome development that helped give Wisconsin its balanced attack. Klesmit scored 21 first-half points in a Dec. 2 victory over then-No. 3 Marquette, but he had totaled 14 points in four games since.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

This victory could enable Wisconsin to remain in the Top 25 even if it slips up at home this weekend.

UP NEXT

Iowa: Hosts Rutgers on Saturday.

Wisconsin: Hosts Nebraska on Saturday.