BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com Senior Writer
MADISON, Wis. — Mike Lucas had a front-row seat for Wisconsin's 66-59 loss to Northwestern. Here is what he saw from courtside.
"I'VE GOT YOUR BACK, SHOWY"
Wisconsin's Zak Showalter was the principal defender on Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh, one of the most unsung point guards in college basketball. A year ago, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound McIntosh had 28 points in the Wildcats' 70-65 win over the Badgers at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston.
Proving it was not a fluke, McIntosh had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists here Sunday night snapping the UW's 19-game winning streak at the Kohl Center. In the process, McIntosh, a junior from Greensburg, Indiana, is only the second player in Northwestern history to go over 500 career assists.
McIntosh has scored 20 or more points in four straight and five of the last seven. He was a handful for Showalter who admitted as much afterwards.
Asked if he could have done anything differently, Showalter said, "There's always something else I can do. When I go back and watch the film, I'll find other ways to force tougher shots, I guess. He's a heckuva player. He made a lot of tough ones. He was the best player on the court tonight."
The Badgers didn't have an answer for McIntosh. Neither did Showalter.
"So it's not what I wanted to do," Showalter said, "and he took advantage of it."
Without missing a beat, Nigel Hayes stepped in and came to Showalter's defense, pointing out the volume of shots taken.
McIntosh took 23 shots (10-of-23) to score 25 points.
"Showy did a great job," Hayes asserted. "I don't want this to be all about McIntosh. He was a good player. But it's not like he walked up and down the court and had his way. On a large portion of his shots, Showy did a tremendous job on him. We'd gladly give someone 25 points on 23 shots."
Showalter turned to Hayes and said, "That's a teammate right there."
THE SKINNY ON MICHIGAN
The Wolverines have won four of the last six games, including convincing victories over rival Michigan State in Ann Arbor and Indiana in Bloomington; the first road triumph in seven attempts. Over the last five games, senior guard Derrick Walton has been averaging 23 points.
What makes Walton so challenging to check? "His leadership, his toughness," said Moore, who has the scouting report on Michigan. "He's a threat every time he has the ball in his hands. In transition, he'll walk into a 3. He can go rim to rim and he can also find people. He's very patient with the ball but he probes hard and he's always looking for opportunities for himself and for his teammates."
In Big Ten games, Walton is averaging 17.2 points, one of four players in double-figures. Joining him are D.J. Wilson (12.8), Moritz Wagner (12.3) and Zak Irvin (11.0) who had 20 points in an earlier 68-64 loss (Jan. 17) to the Badgers at the Kohl Center. Walton had 15, including three triples (3-of-5).
One of the keys for Wisconsin was holding Wagner to 10 points (2-of-7) and Wilson scoreless (0-of-4). Wilson had 13 and Wagner had a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds) Sunday at Indiana. The 6-11, 240-pound Wagner, a sophomore from Berlin, Germany, is a classic stretch 4.
"Wagner plays with a high motor and a lot of energy and excitement — a lot like Ethan," Moore said. "He's very skilled and he can put the ball on the floor and shoot the 3. He's starting to emerge as a go-to guy for them at times."
The last time the Badgers played at the Crisler Center was 2015 and they escaped with a 69-64 overtime victory thanks in large part to Frank Kaminsky who had 22 points and 9 rebounds. Koenig had 13 points and Hayes had 10. Walton led the Wolverines with 17 and Irvin had 12.
Photo: Wisconsin Badgers
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