Northwestern found ways to get easy buckets against Wisconsin, while the Badgers struggled to score. (Andy Manis/AP)
Wisconsin stopped its own bleeding after a three-game losing streak with a win over Purdue last Saturday thanks in part to a return from the Badgers' defense. On Wednesday, the defensive struggles that led to the Badgers' earlier skid returned, with a little help from some shoddy offense.
Northwestern, which entered the night with a 10-11 record, shot 48 percent from the field and tallied 43 points in the second half to knock off the Badgers' 65-56. The loss was Wisconsin's fourth in five games after a 16-0 start to the season and marked the program's first back-to-back home losses since 1998.
During Wisconsin's three-game losing streak earlier this month, the defense that defined much of its early season success gave up almost 78 points per game in those three losses. On Wednesday the Badgers managed to hold Northwestern to 65 points, but this time their own offense couldn't keep up. Wisconsin connected on a measly 15-of-57 (26 percent) of its shot attempts, including only five of their 24 shots (21 percent) from deep. Frank Kaminsky chipped in only eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. The Badgers' 56 points marked their lowest output since a 48-38 win over Virginia on Dec. 4.
In all, Wisconsin simply stalled in the second half. After Nigel Hayes made a layup with 15:01 to play to give the Badgers a 32-27 lead, the team didn't make a field goal until Sam Dekker's layup with 2:47 remaining. Wisconsin hit only seven free throws during that 12-minute span while Northwestern reeled off 27 points. Game, set, match Wildcats.