Thursday, July 25, 2024

Badgers news: 3 quick takeaways from 76-75 win over Purdue

The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 76-75 in overtime in the semifinals. Big Ten Tournament On Saturday, Max Kleschmidt's game-winner in a classic thriller.

With the win, the Badgers advance to the tournament finals, where they will face the winner of the Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers game, with tip-off set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Offensively, Wisconsin shot 43.2 percent from the field and 21.9 percent from three, making enough plays to win, led by Chuckie Hepburn with 22 points.

Defensively, the Badgers held Purdue to 45.1 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from deep despite allowing 32 free throws.

Here are three quick takeaways from the Badgers' 76-75 win over the Purdue Boilermakers.

Security

The Badgers had to rely on its defense throughout the game as Wisconsin struggled at times from the field and from three-pointers.

Wisconsin got off to a slow start offensively, missing each of their first five three-pointers, prompting Purdue to take an early lead.

But, just like Friday's game at Northwestern, the Badgers were able to go on an 11-2 run to take their first lead of the game because Purdue couldn't connect on many threes in that stretch.

Wisconsin swings fast and this game was no different, with the Badgers turning defense into offense to go on a big run.

The Badgers ultimately held Purdue to 1/8 from three in the first half, which was instrumental in holding the Boilermakers to 36 points as the latter had 18 free throw attempts in the first half.

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However, the second half really showed defensive efforts, especially early in the period.

While Purdue shot the ball well, Wisconsin was able to force 11 turnovers while holding the Boilermakers scoreless for a stretch of 5:20 where they forced six turnovers, keeping them in the game despite some offense.

More importantly, Wisconsin kept Purdue away from the free throw line until the end of regulation when they were forced to.

The Badgers had some flaws as Purdue found their three-point shot, shooting 4/6 from deep and 12/23 from the field.

But that five-minute stretch saved Wisconsin, keeping the Badgers within reach to preserve a chance to win at a time when their offense was struggling.

In overtime, Purdue had 10 attempts, making nine of them, while the Boilermakers missed all three of their field goal attempts.

Suffering

The free throw imbalance was a big part of Sunday's game, keeping the Boilermakers within striking distance, as they finished the game with 32 attempts from the line, compared to the Badgers' nine.

Zach Edey was the biggest beneficiary, shooting 19 times and hitting 14 free throws.

But the Badgers worked against a quick whistle that prompted Nolan Winter, Tyler Wall and Steven Kraul to foul out, forcing Wisconsin to play Carter Gilmore under center for most of overtime.

However, on all free throw attempts, the Badgers stayed in the mix, matching Purdue's score at the line with clutch shots at the line, until the final whistle.

Sunday was no different, fouls are always a point of contention when the Badgers face off against the Boilermakers, but the most important part is that Wisconsin found a way to counter the Storm with their different lineup combinations.

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In the face of injuries, with Tyler Wall and John Blackwell clearly struggling, and Chuckie Hepburn still dealing with knee pain, the Badgers still found a way to win in an unlikely setup, beating an opponent that was their best twice in the regular season.

Wisconsin didn't shoot the ball well, which was the main reason for me entering the game, as they connected on 7/32 (21.9 percent) threes.

A.J. Storr struggled with his performance, especially in the second half, where he shot 3/12, but the Badgers had their biggest win of the year, however, leading them to the Big Ten Tournament final.

Chuckie Hepburn

Not enough can be said about Chuckie Hepburn's performance as the Badgers guard was the team's best player on Saturday.

Overcoming a knee issue long enough to sit out Friday's game against the Northwestern Wildcats, Hepburn racked up 38 tough minutes, scoring 22 points on 9/12 from the field.

Down low, as Store struggled to connect on shots, the Badgers turned to Hepburn, who showed he can be a clutch scorer when his team needs him.

Much of his production came offensively in the second half, as Hepburn scored 14 points on 6/8 shooting while collecting three key steals.

With the game in regulation, head coach Greg Gard called a beautiful play that resulted in a 1-on-1 opportunity for Hepburn, where he slipped past Braden Smith to score the game-tying layup as the buzzer sounded.

Then, in overtime, Hepburn forced Braden Smith into a key turnover with 21 seconds left, chasing him 94 feet as the Purdue guard crossed midcourt.

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With that, Max Kleschmidt finally delivered the kill shot, and with five seconds remaining, he drove in a floater over Zach Eddy to give the Badgers the win and send them to the Big Ten Tournament final.

Following the Northwestern game Hepburn said his confidence didn't stop him from playing against Purdue.

Not only did he play, but the Badgers guard fought his heart out for 38 minutes, and Wisconsin needed every minute of that effort to win this game.

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