The Badgers came in to Saturday’s contest at Maryland as double-digit underdogs, it left the Xfinity Center as double digit victors — winning 70-57 and making a huge NCAA tournament statement on the road.
The win marked Wisconsin’s 8th in a row and it had a lot to do with the hot shooting of one Vitto Brown for the second straight game.
Brown was the toast of the town, putting up a career-high 19 points on 7-13 shooting and adding seven rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Bronson Koenig (16), Nigel Hayes (14) and Zak Showalter (11).
This was a true team effort though, as freshman forward Ethan Happ struggled with just 4 points and 4 fouls, but managed to grab a game-high 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
Wisconsin’s victory snapped a 27-game home win streak for the Terps, and led to the Badgers becoming the first Big Ten road team to win at Maryland.
After Wisconsin went up 7-2 to start the game, it felt like this could be an interesting night for the visitors. However, a 7-0 run by Maryland gave the Terps their first lead of the game at 9-7.
The run would eventually be snapped after it reached 12-0, but Wisconsin still only trailed by four points at 14-10 after snapping said 12-point run.
Leaving the Badgers hanging around proved to be a major mistake.
That’s because the Badgers answered the run by Maryland with a 17-0 run of its own and retook a lead of 19-14 with 8:12 to play in the half that turned in to a 10-point lead at 24-14 at its height. Wisconsin’s run wasn’t a result of any one player getting hot, instead the Badgers worked hard inside and complemented each other well.
Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown began to out work Maryland defenders down low and got high-percentage shots as a result, while also taking advantage of 9 Terps turnovers in the first half alone.
After the Badgers’ run was broken by two made free throws, it was much the same. Wisconsin continued to pound the ball down low, Maryland continued to miss baskets and played sloppy on the defensive end of the court.
It resulted in the Badgers being up by as many as 16 points (35-19) late in the first half.
Wisconsin would’ve been up by that score at the half, but a nasty incident with just under two seconds remaining changed everything.
As Vitto Brown went to rebound a missed shot, Maryland’s Diamond Stone tackled him to the ground. What ensued was mayhem that included clear video proof of Stone taking a shot at pushing Vitto Brown’s head in to the court.
Wisconsin’s Charlie Thomas stood up for his teammate after that, and somehow it became offsetting technical fouls and Stone was allowed to stay in the game.
Coming out of the half it was clear who had and hadn’t gotten over what took place to end the first half, as Maryland whittled Wisconsin’s 15-point lead down to just 9 points within a matter of minutes. However, a pair of triples from Koenig and Hayes buoyed the Badgers in the middle of the storm.
It would be a pattern that gave clues to Wisconsin’s lead being stable, as the Terps would bring the game no closer than six points in the final stanza. Wisconsin simply found an answer for anything and everything the Terps threw at them — including early foul trouble, turnovers and a short cold spell of shooting.
After making a season high 13 three pointers in the win over Nebraska on Wednesday, the Badgers came back with 12 makes in this one. Most impressively, the Badgers managed to use the three-pointer as a major weapon in stopping Maryland runs and killing off hope late in the contest as well.
Effort was also key, as the Badgers simply out-hustled Maryland for much of the game. It led to Wisconsin owning a 40-30 advantage on the boards and a 13-9 advantage on the offensive glass. That advantage led to 20 second chance points by the Badgers compared to just four for the Terps.
With an eight-game win streak on the line, Wisconsin will turn its attention on a big time matchup with No. 8 Michigan State at the Breslin Center this upcoming Thursday at 8p.m. CT on ESPN.