MADISON, Wis. (AP) — No. 24 Wisconsin will have a shot to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title. The Badgers just need to tighten up a few things to improve their chances.
Nate Reuvers scored 11 points and Wisconsin struggled through a 63-48 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday night, moving into a three way-tie for first place in the conference.
“We’re not done yet,” guard D’Mitrik Trice said. “We’ve got one more to go.”
The Badgers (20-10, 13-6 Big Ten) play at Indiana on Saturday.
They have work to do after shooting just 39% against the 12th-worst defense in the conference.
Neither team exactly put on an offensive show. The Badgers found a way in the second half to put things together and pull away.
Northwestern (7-22, 2-17) dug itself two holes, only finding its way out of one.
The Wildcats, who shoot 42% from the field on average, started the game 1 for 10 with five turnovers in the first nine minutes. But after trailing by 17 points with 5:48 left, Northwestern cut the Wisconsin lead to 32-28 just before half.
The Wildcats’ offensive woes resurfaced after the break as they started 1 for 12 and fell behind 48-33 with 8:51 left.
Pete Nance led Northwestern with 14 points.
Wildcats coach Chris Collins said his struggled to knock down shots, even when they got good looks. At one point in the first half, they had well-executed plays that resulted in open shots that they missed.
Collins said the most frustrating thing was Northwestern wasn’t able to take advantage of the opportunity they gave themselves by largely keeping Wisconsin’s offense in check.
The Badgers had averaged 75 points a game over their six straight wins coming into the game.
“I thought our defense did enough,” Collins said. “It was just our inability to score to keep us within striking distance.”
The Badgers rely heavily on the 3-point shot, averaging nearly nine a game and shooting 35% from the arc. They made the first 3-pointer they took on consecutive possessions to start the game. From there, Wisconsin made 5 of their next 22.
“We’d love to always hit our shots,” Wisconsin guard Brad Davison said. “But when it comes down to it, if you play both ends of the floor, you can win from both ends of the floor.”