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Three Things: Wisconsin Basketball vs. Penn State



Wisconsin basketball returned to action on Tuesday night, rocking their new look “By the Players” uniforms. A sleek new black design that also highlights the essential message of equality that Wisconsin athletics continues to strive for. Taking on Penn State, Wisconsin broke its three-game losing streak with a 63-60 win.

Here are three things from the win.

Tyler Wahl Returns

It became painfully obvious how important Tyler Wahl is to this team. After turning his ankle in the game against Minnesota, Wahl missed the next three contests, which saw the Badgers lose all three. The apparent glaring hole that is missing without Wahl is the scoring. He leads the Badgers in points per game, while Steven Crowl did his best to pick up in that department during the absence. Wisconsin missed the attention Wahl gets on the offensive end, which can lead to opportunities for others.

Wisconsin notably missed Wahl’s defense in the game against Indiana last Saturday. The Hoosiers dominated the paint and took advantage of the lack of experience in the Badger’s frontcourt depth. I can speak for all Badger fans when I say how happy we are to welcome Wahl back.

New Starting Five

Not only did we see new jerseys tonight, but Wisconsin also rolled out a new starting five. Freshman sensation Connor Essegian got the first start of his career. It was only a matter of time before Greg Gard was forced to make this change. Wisconsin is better and more dangerous when Connor is on the floor. At times, it seems like Essegian is Wisconsin’s best offensive player when he gets hot.

Greg Gard and other Big Ten coaches like Tom Izzo mentioned they were surprised at how good Essegian was to start the year. He’s proven to hold his own on the defensive end and make winning plays. So it’s not a surprise to see him get the start.

It’s genuinely no knock on Jordan Davis. Wisconsin is just a better basketball team with Essegian on the floor. I hope Jordan continues to work hard defensively and gains some confidence back to knock down some shots. He will still be a vital piece of this team moving forward; he must do so in a bench role.

Second Half Defense

Without Wahl during this three-game stretch, we have seen some rare inexcusable mistakes from the Badgers on the defensive end. A side of the floor that should be in their favor in almost every game. Penn State is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the conference. While also being the number-one team in the country regarding turnovers per game. Holding them to 24 points in the second half without Max Klesmit, forcing ten turnovers, and scoring 15 points off those turnovers. Still a few communication mistakes with the switching defense, but when that was cleared up, they finished the game with two huge stops.

Also, Wisconsin basketball is now 7-3 in games decided by five points or less. Stressful, but a good record for clutch time games.

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