February 2, 2009

Good, bad and ugly from Northwestern loss

MADISON, Wis. - After floundering down the stretch en route to suffering its sixth straight loss, the Wisconsin men's basketball team is in dire needs of a victory. Following the latest loss to Northwestern, the Badgers have some time off before facing Illinois Thursday night at the Kohl Center.

Before then, however, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at the current loss and discusses the good, bad and ugly from UW's trip to Northwestern.

The good:

Jason Bohannon and Jon Leuer

For the first time since UW's first loss of the current streak (at Purdue), Bohannon shot better than 50 percent from the field. Adding to Bohannon's production, Leuer also found his scoring touch and scored 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.

Keep in mind, over Leuer's three-previous games before NU, the sophomore scored a combined eight points on 4-for-16 shooting. Needless to say, the 23 points the two chipped in were essential in giving the Badgers a chance to end its slump.

"It was nice to see, because we definitely needed it," UW head coach Bo Ryan said following the game. "We wouldn't be in this ballgame if those two didn't hit some shot. They definitely needed some of that."

For Bohannon in particular, a player mired in a 4-for-21 slump before the trip to Evanston including a terrible 2-for-11 mark from beyond the arc, his 3-for-4 shooting from distance were essential in the early stages of the contest as well as in restoring some confidence.

"It helped a lot," Bohannon said. "We got down real quick when they hit a couple threes and that kept us in the game. We just got to keep playing an keep looking for some good shots."

The bad:

Defensive collapse in waning minutes

With just over four minutes left in the game, Wisconsin was clinging to a slim 52-50 lead. From that point on, however, the Wildcats outscored the Badgers 16-11 down the stretch and scored on each of their next eight possessions to ice the game away.

While many of the points came on free throws down the stretch, there was still a period of three straight lay-ins from Kevin Coble, Luka Mirkovic and Jeremy Nash that kept the margin at three. In total, NU shot 10-for-15 from the field in the second half, making it the second straight UW opponent that has shot better than 60 percent from the field in a half.

"I don't know, we're not making our stops like we're supposed to be," Trevon Hughes said. "We just got to get it together and make stops. It's not a one-man band, we all got to get in sync with one another and get stops. It's a team game."

The ugly:

Marcus Landry and Keaton Nankivil foul trouble

Landry picked up his fourth personal foul with nearly eight and a half minutes left in the game. Although he was not having a great offensive night, he was still able to hit on most of the shots he took. However, by not having him on the court as well as Nankivil, who never got back into the game after picking up his fourth foul with just over 18 minutes to play and finished with five points, UW was lacking size in the frontcourt.

When Landry eventually got back into the game, he scored six of his 10 points in the waning minutes. He finished the game shooting 4-for-5 from the field and collected six rebounds, but his presence was missed for a great amount of the game as he only saw 24 minutes of action.

"He's got to move more because he's on the bench with fouls," Ryan said. "He's the one that put himself on the bench. What would I like to see? When Christmas comes, I make a list."

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