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3 things that stood out from Wisconsin men's basketball's win over UW-Green Bay

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Wisconsin guard Jordan Davis blocks a shot by Green Bay forward Clarence Cummings III during the first half of the Badgers' win over the Phoenix Tuesday at the Kohl Center in Madison.

With Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl struggling to make baskets, Wisconsin used its depth to escape with a 56-45 win over UW-Green Bay on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center. 

A game that should’ve been an easy win for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team ended up getting a little too close for comfort Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers had a 17-point lead at halftime, but UW-Green Bay chipped it down to six points with 11:50 remaining. UW held on for a 56-45 win, with points from Jordan Davis, Steven Crowl and Max Klesmit coming at key moments down the stretch.

Davis hit a 3-pointer to create some momentum for UW (3-0) with just under 10 minutes to play, and Isaac Lindsey followed up with a second-chance layup to give the Badgers a nine-point lead. A pair of free throws from Klesmit gave UW a double-digit lead with 7:23 remaining.

The Phoenix (0-3) got within six points, but Crowl hit a 3-pointer with 3:38 to go to put the Badgers back up by double digits and all but seal the victory.

“A win's a win,” Davis said. “Sometimes it's not going to be your night. You got to rally together as a team and trust each other and trust the work we put in.”

UW’s first half was rough, but the second half was even worse. The Badgers only scored 24 points in the final 20 minutes.

It wasn’t that the Badgers had a hard time getting to the rim, they just couldn’t seem to get anything to fall. They finished with 30.2% shooting overall and 42.1% from 3-point range.

Uncharacteristic mistakes contributed to UW's 14 turnovers — eight of which came from the three returning starters, Tyler Wahl, Chucky Hepburn and Crowl.

The Badgers struggled to contain UW-Green Bay’s Cade Meyer, a former Monroe athlete, and Zae Blake, who scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, to lead all scorers. Davis was the only Badgers player to score 10 or more points, finishing with 11.

“He was one of their go-to guys,” UW's Carter Gilmore said of Meyer. “He came out ready to go in the second half. We got to be tougher, myself included. Some of his buckets started on me. Just getting stronger and make them not going to easy catch and all the little stuff.”

Here are three things that stood out. 

Sloppy first half

The Badgers came up empty on the first five empty possessions before Davis got them on the board with a 3-pointer. UW finished the first half with one point per possession while shooting 29.4%.

UW had six turnovers in the first half — after averaging 9.5 per game over the first two contests — with veterans Wahl and Crowl accounting for half. The UW-Green Bay bench was looking for a traveling call on many of Wahl’s drives to the bucket and he was called for one with 1:29 remaining.

Gilmore, Markus Ilver and Connor Essegian combined for the other three turnovers. Essegian was put in a bad spot when the Phoenix were utilizing a full-court press. He dropped down to help Hepburn get the ball over the half-court line, and when Essegian went to pass to Davis, Clarence Cummings took advantage.

The Badgers finished the half with a 17-point advantage, despite their leading scorers, Wahl and Hepburn, going a combined 2 of 18 from the field.

All hands on deck

There wasn’t a player for UW that dominated. Coach Greg Gard has said it’s going to take every player for the Badgers to win games and Tuesday was a perfect example.

Nine players scored for the Badgers, with only Crowl and Gilmore shooting 50% or better.

Early on it seemed as if Klesmit, Davis or Hepburn would end up leading the team in scoring, as they all had six points at the half. Klesmit and Hepburn fizzled out in the second half, combining for only five points after the break. Davis picked up a bit of slack with his five second-half points.

Crowl led the Badgers in the second half with six points after only scoring three in the first.

Wahl, Hepburn and Crowl were held to a combined 7-for-31 shooting.

“I think everyone on this team is capable of stepping on the floor and bringing positive outcomes to the game,” Davis said. “We have a deep bench and our top two scorers weren’t scoring tonight so we had to look to other guys.”

Foul trouble prompts changes

Wahl and Hepburn, who've played more minutes than any others for UW, got into early foul trouble with both picking up two by the end of the first half. Wahl was called for his third less than five minutes into the second half.

The early fouls forced Gard to play around with lineups more than usual. The Badgers are a guard-heavy team, with only five players listed as forwards, making it unusual when UW put three forwards on the court — Ilver, Crowl and Wahl — alongside Davis and Klesmit.

It also was one of the first times this season that the Badgers didn’t have a starter on the floor. A lineup of Ilver, Jahcobi Neath, Essegian, Kamari McGee and Gilmore played together until four of the starters came on to sub them out with 14:31 left in the half.

There were four players who played point guard — Isaac Lindsey, Hepburn, McGee and Klesmit.

“I think it's going to serve us going forward because I have to continue to explore different combinations,” Gard said. “It comes down to, you know we had Tyler get in foul trouble, Chucky struggling along with a few others so (I had to) keep looking for combinations trying to get a spark going.”

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