So my person, the woman, the older fool, el padre, and Court were in attendance at the Badger's thirteen point victory over Sparty. The game got a bit scary in the second half when Bucky's double digit halftime lead shrunk to a mere five points, largely because we forgot how to score for long stretches. Thankfully, Alando rescued us, hitting four three-pointers in the second half, most coming on possessions where we looked discombobulated and Sparty was threatening. Those were remarkable shots, especially coming from Alando, who until the last month or two (knock on wood) was not hitting treys consistently. They quieted the semi-rowdy Sparty corner of the crowd, let all of us Wisconsin fans take a breath, and let the Wisconsin team, I'd guess, relax.
Due to terrible public transportation/traffic issues (sometimes I hate living in Chicago), the woman and I arrived late for the game, so I can't speak for the whole team's performance. We fouled too much, and turned the ball over unnecessarily at times. The offense was flowing decently in the first half, but then grew stagnant in the second. Stiemsma played pretty good defense, and came close to playing 20 minutes (17) as I had hoped. He got called for at least one very chippy foul. Chappell did not look good on offense, missing both of his contested lay ups without drawing a foul. Pop Hughes and Flowers did a good job on Neitzel, keeping the ball away from him when they could. He scored 10 points, his quietest game against us this season. Mostly, this game was remarkable for its amount of fouls. Sparty's talented freshman, Raymar Morgan, fouled out, as did their ginger big man. Their foul total in the second half must have been something like 16 or 17. I couldn't tell you for sure because the scoreboard stopped counting them at ten. Izzo complained about it, and some guy said in the bathroom after the game "that Tucker gets every call!" But that wasn't the case. Even Alando, who does a good job of not committing fouls, got called for some bumps when Morgan or Gray was trying to post him up. Anyhow, it was nice to win that first game and start looking forward.
And we're now looking forward to Illinois this afternoon. The woman took off last night after the Sconnie game, but the rest of us stayed around to witness a terrible offensive performance by both Indiana and Illinois. Don't believe the coverage in the Chicago papers about how dramatic, etc., the game was. It was awful. Illinois fans were cursing openly at their team, particularly Randle and McBride, for its inability to score. Carter and Pruitt eventually managed to do something for Illinois, but it was ugly throughout. Thankfully for the Fibs, they contested most of Indiana's jump shots and no one got hot for them from outside. Their most successful offensive player shot 40% from the field. So it was clankety, clank, clank from both sides. The offense was so bad, when the game was tied 50-50 with a minute left, I was very confident that it was going to overtime. Then, the two teams combined only scored 4 points for the first four minutes of OT. Just terrible.
I'm a little worried about the game this afternoon because Illinois will have most of the crowd. They should be tired (their game wasn't over until about 10:30), and no Smith or Carlwell hurts their depth. Pruitt is a good low post player-- he hurt us in the game in Champaign, which was quite close until the last minute or so. Stiemsma, Chappell, and Landry will have to play well. Carter is a perfectly adequate wing player, and someone, probably Landry, will have to keep an eye on him. Randle is an excellent defender and is very talented, although he's struggled on offense this season. Like last time, they'll put him on Tucker. I respect Frazier's defense, but I'm not afraid of him on the other end of the floor. McBride can get hot, but has trouble creating his own shots. What I'm really concerned about is Weber. I think he's a fine coach, and his teams always play excellent defense, especially against us We're going to have to work for our offense this afternoon and, even though Illinois' struggles on the other end, stay vigilant on defense.