BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com Senior Writer
MADISON, Wis. — Mike Lucas had a front-row seat as Wisconsin lost to Iowa 43-41 at the Kohl Center Thursday. Here is what he saw from courtside.
SMALL BALL COMES UP A LITTLE SHORTDuring the first media timeout (15:33) Thursday night, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard went to a small lineup with 6-foot freshman D'Mitrik Trice replacing 6-10 redshirt sophomore Ethan Happ, who was subbed back into the game less than two minutes later for Vitto Brown. In the first half, Gard used nine players in his rotation, including Trice, Brevin Pritzl, Khalil Iverson and Aaron Moesch. Neither Iverson, nor Moesch played after halftime. But 6-4 guard Jordan Hill logged 11 minutes off the bench.
Addressing the use of a three-guard lineup exclusively in the second half against Iowa (an up-tempo, pressing, aggressive, multiple defense team), Gard said, "That's what I planned to do, I wanted to do that for most of the game and I did it quite a bit in the first half, too. I was trying to use Vitto, Ethan and Nigel (Hayes) at the 4 and 5 just because I felt against their zone (a 2-3 and 3-2 matchup) and against their pressure (1-2-2), I wanted more ball-handlers on the floor."
THE SKINNY ON MINNESOTA
Who would have guessed that after Wisconsin beat Minnesota, 78-76, in overtime at Williams Arena (Jan 21) that the Badgers and the Gophers would take such divergent paths to their rematch at the Kohl Center. Nobody is the answer.
Happ and Hayes were nearly unstoppable in the paint while combining for 49 points (20-of-37 FGs) — not to mention going 8-of-11 from the free throw line — as the Badgers upped their overall record to 16-3/5-1 in the Big Ten. The Gophers dropped to 15-5/3-4 in what was their third conference loss in a five-game losing streak. Since then, they have been unstoppable.
Minnesota has won eight straight. What has made the difference? "They didn't push the panic button, they didn't change things they had been doing, they stuck with it and continued to do what they do, continued to rely on their defense, and they've just done it better," said UW assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft. "They're playing with an extremely high amount of swagger right now that they are one of the better teams in the Big Ten and they certainly are. They're playing like it and they're believing in it."
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