Iowa and Wisconsin don’t like each other much, and it doesn’t matter if it is on the football field or the hardwood. These two schools also happen to play some of the most competitive games of any basketball rivalry in the Big Ten.
So, when Tuesday night rolled around most of us settled in to witness a classic matchup between two rivals tied at 4-1 atop the Big Ten conference. It started out that way, with the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers and No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes trading buckets for a 4-4 game.
However, that’s when things stopped being competitive at all and the Badgers re-emphasized why they are the top dog in the Big Ten this season. Iowa would never lead or tie the ballgame up after that 4-4 score, and Wisconsin blew the Hawkeyes out 82-50 in front of a raucous Kohl Center crowd.
Wisconsin used three-straight triples to go on a 9-0 run and take a 13-4 lead. It was the beginning of the end, as Iowa went from hot from the field to ice-cold and the Badgers didn’t make any mistakes in dissecting the Hawkeyes as the night went on.
UW was up 18 at the half (35-17) and it didn’t get much better after the teams came out for the second half. In fact, it only got worse for the Hawkeyes, as they were down by as many as 30 points before the final 32-point margin was achieved in complete garbage time that lasted more than three minutes.
So, how did this happen? It was a two-fold scenario for the Hawkeyes and it involved Wisconsin playing team defense and taking care of the basketball. The Badgers held Iowa to 43.5 percent field goal shooting, which isn’t terrible but it came on 13 fewer field goal attempts than Wisconsin took.
Wisconsin also managed to record just one turnover, tying for the program low with a 2008 matchup against Michigan State. Combine an inability to get possessions with an inability to create easy point off turnover and you have a recipe for how Wisconsin was able to blow out Iowa.
The Badgers are also beginning to have teams take notice of the thing that has made them so dangerous for two years now — anyone on the roster can take the ball and kill you one-on-one. It wasn’t lost on Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, that’s for sure.
McCaffery: "They're an excellent 3-point shooting team, but they're an excellent 1-on-1 team." #Badgers
— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) January 21, 2015
The Badgers had Kaminsky, fellow senior forward Duje Dukan, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker all take defenders off the dribble from beyond the three-point arc and right to the rim on numerous occasions throughout the night.
No greater example of that one-on-one play came from Kaminsky himself. His one-on-one play resulted in a big play for the Badgers in the first half, as he ball-faked, took his guy off the dribble, spun and dished to a wide-open Josh Gasser for a triple.
Wisconsin ran the table on the stat sheet, as you would expect in a 32-point win. UW shot 49.2 percent from the field, outrebounded the Hawkeyes 37-23, made more free throws (15) than Iowa took (10) and had a crazy 36-12 advantage in points in the paint.
Many wondered how the Badgers would handle a contender without the services of senior point guard Traevon Jackson, but sophomore Bronson Koenig has filled in fine and has even added more danger to the Badgers’ perimeter game.
On Tuesday night, Koenig had 13 points on 3 of 6 shooting from deep, while also adding two assists and no turnovers to the mix as well.
It’s one thing to blow out the Northwestern’s or the Penn State’s of the Big Ten world, but no one saw a beatdown in Madtown coming when these previously tied for first place foes tangled on Tuesday.
Things were so bad for Iowa in this contest that it didn’t have a single player in double figures until there were less than two minutes left to play. Ironically that player was former Badger, Jarrod Uthoff, who had 12 points on the night.
One game certainly doesn’t make or break a team in an 18-game journey, but one game can certainly make a statement and that’s exactly what the Badgers did on Tuesday night. If anyone doubted the Badgers spot atop the mountain a 32-point win against an arch rival will certainly turn that around.