-MADISON, WI – 1/13/2021
By: Mitchell Speltz
Another game, another quality win for the Wisconsin Badgers (14-2) as they avenged their only conference loss of the season against Ohio State (10-4) on Thursday night with a wire-to-wire victory, 78-68. The Badgers earned this one with a true team effort as they got big-time contributions from Tyler Wahl, Brad Davison, and Steven Crowl with Johnny Davis having an off-night by his standards. “It shows you we’re more than Johnny”, Head Coach Greg Gard explained after the game. Maybe the top concern of this team was put to bed as the Badgers needed everybody to capture their sixth straight win and improve to 5-1 in Big Ten play.
- Tyler Wahl had a career-high 21 points Sunday against Maryland and although he didn’t quite match that on Thursday, this was the best performance of his career. Wahl finished with a complete line of 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists and had another strong defensive performance against Ohio State’s top player, EJ Liddell. Wahl is solving the question of who the Badgers’ No. 3 scorer is behind Johnny Davis and Brad Davison. The Junior has averaged 15.5 PPG during Wisconsin’s current six-game win streak and it’s easy to connect the dots that Wahl has been a key cog in the team’s recent success. And the best part about it is he made his first three-pointers of the season against the Buckeyes after an 0/17 start this season. We’ll see if the outside shooting sticks after a 2/4 night against Ohio State, but it’s another reason Wahl continues to improve.
- Steven Crowl is also making significant strides after a down month of December. Greg Gard confirmed the sentiment that Crowl is improving in a variety of ways but mostly pointed to his defense and confidence. The Sophomore big-man started the night with a three-pointer on the opening possession that set the tone for his night as he finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds. But most importantly, he held his own on the block against Zed Key and EJ Liddell when he went against them one-on-one. The physicality of the Big Ten has ramped-up Crowl’s toughness and he’s becoming the player the Badgers need him to be as they continue towards a Big Ten title.
- As this Wisconsin team continues to win, you can argue Greg Gard is having his best season as Head Coach. Gard has had some incredible coaching jobs during his tenure at Wisconsin, but I’m starting to believe this one may be his best. The Badgers 14-2 start is the best under Gard since he took over in December of 2015, and this is with a team that was picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten Preseason-Poll. You can tell Gard loves coaching this group, perhaps more than any team he’s guided in his career, and he’s more than deserving to be in the conversation for not just Coach of the Year in the conference, but nationally as well.
AT THE PODIUM:
- “What it shows you is we’re more than Johnny. I’ve thought all along we’ve had some really good pieces. They weren’t household names to start the year but as this team has come together, you’re starting to see that” – Greg Gard on overcoming a tough night from Johnny Davis
- “He’s gotten better. He’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence and when you cross that threshold from sophomore to junior, there’s a lot you hope comes with that including leadership, which is helping him improve his game in all areas. He competes exceptionally hard and you want those kinds of players on your team” – Gard on Tyler Wahl
- “His confidence. I see it in practice every day. It shouldn’t have taken him this long to hit his first three but this was a damn good time to do it” – Johnny Davis on Tyler Wahl’s recent play
- “Getting to the free-throw line. Not only do you rack up fouls for them, but it gives you a chance to set your defense and it helped us stop their transition game tonight” – Brad Davison on the biggest improvement from the matchup with Ohio State