February 25, 2009

Re-visiting close UW defeats

MADISON, Wis. - With its most recent loss to Michigan State, Wisconsin suffered its 10th loss of the season. It also marked another loss that directly resulted following a second half lead that slipped away.

In total, six of UW's 10 losses have been by seven points or fewer, including back-to-back overtime losses to Minnesota and Iowa respectively.

With only three games remaining on the schedule, the Badgers will likely need to win two, if not all, to feel safe come selection Sunday.

Before the remainder of the schedule plays out, BadgerBlitz.com recounts what could have been had the ball bounced a different way in UW's close losses throughout the season.

Wisconsin at Marquette
UW's last lead: 49-48 with 6:50 to play
UW's biggest lead: 26-16 with 4:54 left in first half
End result: 61-58 Marquette win

What went wrong:

For the majority of the first half, the Badgers had Marquette playing a tempo that was more suitable for UW's liking. Because of that, the MU guards were being kept rather quiet throughout the first 20 minutes.

However, with the backing of the hometown crowd, the Golden Eagles rallied back in the second half and finally took the lead for good with less than seven minutes to play. In the end, the guards of Marquette, as they so often do to many opponents, wore down the Badgers perimeter defense and held on for the tough win.

Texas at Wisconsin
UW's last lead: 67-66 with 3:10 to play
UW's biggest lead: 30-23 with 6:33 left in first half
End result: 74-69 Texas win

What went wrong:

UW had everything going in its favor, particularly in the waning minutes of the second half. Trevon Hughes had driven the lane before finding Jason Bohannon open on the wing. Bohannon did not hesitate to fire and drilled the three-point shot to give UW a slim one-point lead.

Following that play, the Badgers forced Damion James into committing a turnover that gave UW a chance to expand its lead. Instead, UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft botched a handoff near mid-court that led to a Texas lay-in. The Badgers never led again.

Minnesota at Wisconsin
UW's last lead: 62-59 with 14 seconds left (UW led by 12 with less than five minutes to play and six with one minute left)
UW's biggest lead: 41-27 with 14:08 to play
End result: 78-74 Minnesota overtime win

What went wrong:

It had to have been one of the most disgusting losses of not only the six-game losing streak or the season, but also one of the worst in recent memory. The Badgers had dominated the game throughout and entered the final five minutes with a 12-point lead. Playing at the Kohl Center, there was no way UW would let this one slip away.

However, behind the hot shooting of Lawrence Westbrook and a stifling Minnesota press, the Gophers stormed back, erasing a six-point lead in the final minute, and stunned UW in the overtime session.

In hindsight, had Westbrook missed the shot from beyond the arc with time expiring, would the six-game losing streak have happened?

While that question will never be answered, a win in that one and UW would have bounced back from a loss at Purdue with a win on its home court. Instead, it endured one of the more shocking losses in Kohl Center history.

Wisconsin at Iowa:
UW's last lead: 49-48 with 2:51 to play
UW's biggest lead: 35-28 with 12:01 to play
End result: 73-69 Iowa overtime win

What went wrong:

In this one, the Badgers spent most of the game ahead and seemingly in control. But what was quickly becoming a common theme, UW struggled to close out the Hawkeyes and allowed them to take the lead late in the game.

After Jordan Taylor drilled a deep three to send the game into overtime, the Badgers seemed to have all the momentum they needed heading into the extra period. Instead, UW struggled to score the basketball and Iowa did not miss from the field with the end result being yet another excruciating loss.

Purdue at Wisconsin
UW's last lead: 58-57 with 1:58 to play (UW led by four with 2:14 to play)
UW's biggest lead: 56-51 with 4:46 to play
End result: 64-63 Purdue win

What went wrong:

In a game it absolutely needed, the Badgers shrugged off the fact they had dropped four straight and played Purdue extremely tough. UW even had a four-point lead with just over two minutes to play at home.

But Purdue did not falter and UW had one too many defensive breakdowns en route to its 64-63 stunner. It was the third time UW had lost inside the Kohl Center, a place that under Bo Ryan has been nearly impossible for opponents to win.

Wisconsin at Northwestern
UW's last lead: 55-54 with 2:55 to play
UW's biggest lead: 49-44 with 8:56 to play
End result: 66-63 Northwestern win

What went wrong:

After Marcus Landry hit a lay-up to give UW a one-point lead with just less than three minutes left, the Badgers were only able to connect on two more field goals the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Northwestern's Kevin Coble and Jeremy Nash made tough shots that served as the Badgers dagger.

With one last chance to tie the game with a desperation heave, Hughes was unable to get a shot off. UW had hit rock bottom with its sixth straight loss. To their credit, the Badgers responded with a five-game winning streak that got it back into post-season tournament contention.

Wisconsin at Michigan State
UW's last lead: 45-43 with 5:50 to play
UW's biggest lead: 41-29 with 12:31 to play
End result: 61-50 Michigan State win

What went wrong:

After Landry hit a three from the left wing, UW only made two field goals over the final 12-plus minutes of the game. Meanwhile, MSU used the time to go on a 32-9 run that sealed the Badgers fate.

Honorable mention

Wisconsin vs. Connecticut

-With less than 13 minutes to play, Hughes had stole the ball and looked to go in for the game tying two-points. Instead, he turned the ball over to the quick Kemba Walker and UCONN finished the game on a 31-14 run to win the Paradise Jam championship.

Wisconsin at Purdue

-After shooting only 39 percent from the field in the first half and watching Purdue explode on an 18-5 run to open a double-digit lead, UW still managed to enter the locker room only down six. Early in the second half, UW cut the Boilermakers lead to four, before Purdue methodically extended its lead for a double-digit win.

Wisconsin at Illinois

-For most of the game, Illinois was in control. But over the final minutes, the Badgers cut a 16-point Illinois lead down to five. With 25 seconds left, UW forced the Illini into committing a turnover on an inbound play, but Bohannon missed a three-point shot that would have cut the lead to two. Illinois held on for a seven-point win.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!