MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Much is made — and rightly so — of Wisconsin’s defense. When the Badgers’ offense misfires, their defense suffers, too.
Freshman Aaron White scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and fellow reserve Bryce Cartwright added 17 as the Hawkeyes stunned No. 11 Wisconsin 72-65.
The Badgers (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten) had their second-worst shooting game of the season (34.8 percent), including a dismal 3-for-28 performance on 3-pointers, on the same day their top-ranked defense allowed a season-high for points. Wisconsin hadn’t allowed more than 61 points in its first 14 games and came in leading the nation in scoring defense, yielding an average of 44.4 points.
“If you hit shots, it’s amazing how much better your defense looks,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said after his team had its six-game winning streak ended.
Sophomore Melsahn Basabe pitched in with 14 points for the Hawkeyes (9-6, 1-1), who snapped the Badgers’ 23-game home winning streak against unranked opponents — the last unranked team to beat Wisconsin at the Kohl Center was Illinois, a 63-56 winner on Feb. 9, 2010.
“Any time you win on the road in this league, there’s a celebration, there’s an incredible sense of accomplishment,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after his team beat the Badgers for just the third time in the past 15 meetings. “(But) this is the 11th-ranked team in the country, on the road, with a fabulous winning percentage here. I think our players know and understand what they had to overcome to make this happen.”
Cartwright, a senior who came in averaging 5.9 points and has been coming off the bench as he returns from a hamstring injury, said: “We just came in with a definite mindset today to defy all the odds.”
Cartwright scored 10 points in the second half, the last two a layup with 1:55 remaining that put Iowa ahead 68-60 and sent many in the crowd of 17,230 to the exits.
Wisconsin (12-3, 1-1), though, made one last surge.
Senior Jordan Taylor hit a 3-pointer and sophomore Ben Brust had a steal and layup that pulled the Badgers within 68-65 with 47 seconds to go.
The Hawkeyes worked the shot clock on their next possession and sophomore Roy Devyn Marble hit a jumper from the right of the lane with 21 seconds remaining, and Jared Berggren missed a 3 on the other end to seal Iowa’s surprising victory.
“All we needed to do was get a stop,” said Taylor, who had 17 points to lead four players in double figures for Wisconsin. “We had them where we wanted … and Marble made a tough runner-floater right there off the right side. That was a tough shot, and he made it.”
The Badgers, meanwhile, didn’t make nearly enough shots.
“Our guys made a comeback that probably should have never happened, by all percentages. But you also say, percentages (say) we’re not going to shoot like this,” said Ryan, whose team came in shooting 46 percent. “But the percentages don’t always go that way.
“I guess the Big Ten’s going to be like this the whole year. I just think there’s so many teams that are kind of equal, and if you have a cold night, you’re not going to walk away (with a win) on the left-hand side.”
Iowa raced out to a 10-2 lead and led throughout the first half before Wisconsin used a 9-0 run spanning halftime to take a seven-point lead. White ended the Hawkeyes’ barren stretch with a 3-pointer and went on to score 11 of Iowa’s first 15 points of the second half. His output was double that of his season average and he scored his 18 points in just 20 minutes.
“He was a little bit sideways in the first half, I thought,” McCaffery said of White. “He came in and he got tired quick and he got a foul and he didn’t get a rebound when he should have. He put his head down, and that’s what freshmen do. So we just said, ‘Play through it, be ready, and you’ll get your shot in the second half.’ He’s just a really good basketball player.”