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\(4) Wisconsin 76, Northwestern 49: Rapid Reaction

Northwestern dropped its first conference game of the Chris Collins era by 27 to (4) Wisconsin. Here are a few takeaways from the contest:

Alex Olah

The game got out of hand early as Wisconsin took a 40-14 lead into halftime. The one somewhat-positive aspect of the first 20 minutes for Northwestern was the play of Alex Olah. The sophomore center had seven first-half points as he did some damage in the paint against Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes.

Olah seemed to be the only Northwestern player showing any positive emotion in the blowout, playing extremely hard throughout the contest. He looked aggressive both in the post and on the pick-and-roll. As Northwestern's only real bright spot, he finished with a career-high 23 points on 10-14 from the field. He also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.

Northwestern's interior defense

Frankly, Northwestern's defense down low was non-existent. Wisconsin, usually known for its outside shooting prowess, only hit two threes in the first half. Instead, the Badgers leaned on freshman forward Nigel Hayes. The 6-foot-7, 250 pound forward was both too powerful for Northwestern's smaller players and too quick for Olah and Nikola Cerina. Hayes contributed 19 points on 8-12 shooting in 23 minutes.

In the second half, Northwewstern played some 1-3-1 zone--bringing back images of the Carmody days--and some 2-3 in an effort to keep Wisconsin out of the paint. But in the second half, Wisconsin still scored 24 points in the paint to add on to the 20 the team scored in the first half.

Lack of outside production

At Big Ten media day back in October, Michigan State's Tom Izzo praised Drew Crawford as a player every Big Ten coach could rely on if he was on their team. Against Wisconsin, Crawford was almost non-existent. He was just 1-6 in the first half and finished the game with 10 points on 3-11 shooting in 38 minutes. As a whole, the team shot just 34.5 percent from the field.

JerShon Cobb and Tre Demps (Northwestern's second and third leading scorers) were a combined 4-17 shooting for 11 points. Demps' four points were Northwestern's only bench points of the game.

Aside from Olah, no one on Northwestern made more than three baskets and only Crawford scored in double digits. Without any production from Northwestern's wing players, the Wildcats have almost no shot at winning any game in the Big Ten and especially against a team as good as Wisconsin.