Badgers suffer rare loss to Northwestern
EVANSTON, Ill. -- There is no doubt in coach Chris Collins' mind that he has one of the Big Ten's best players in Bryant McIntosh.
On nights like this, it's hard to argue.
McIntosh scored 28 points to lead Northwestern to a rare win over Wisconsin, 70-65, on Tuesday night.
McIntosh scored all but eight of his points in the second half as the Wildcats (15-3, 3-2 Big Ten) beat the Badgers (9-9, 1-4) for just the third time in 17 games.
"He was just magnificent," Collins said. "Forget about guards, he's one of the best players in the Big Ten. You ask coaches in this league, this kid is an elite, elite player."
Northwestern went on run midway through the second half to grab a seven-point lead and hung on for its second straight win after back-to-back losses to Maryland and Ohio State. Wisconsin dropped its third in a row and is struggling, with Greg Gard trying to land the head coaching job after getting it on an interim basis following Bo Ryan's retirement last month.
"I'm extremely (ticked) right now with the way things are going," the Badgers' Nigel Hayes said after scoring 17 points. "Got to push the guys and guys will push me. We'll start to do things the right way and get some wins."
McIntosh, the lone Wildcat to score in double figures, did a little bit of everything with four rebounds and five assists. The point guard hit three runners while scoring eight points in the game's first four minutes and started looking for his shot again in the second half after he tried to get his teammates going.
Another big key for the Wildcats was a 34-25 rebounding edge. Their work on the glass helped them come away with the win even though they hit just 4 of 12 3-pointers with Wisconsin guarding them tight on the perimeter.
That left the inside open and Northwestern took advantage, outscoring the Badgers 30-18 in the paint while handing them their third straight loss.
"We aren't a one-dimensional team," McIntosh said. "We find other ways to win."
That's exactly what the knock on the Wildcats is, though -- take away the 3 and they won't win. It didn't play out that way on Tuesday.
"A lot of people don't think we can win without making 3s, but I guess we can," Collins said.
Hayes had six rebounds and six assists for the Badgers. Ethan Happ scored 12, but Wisconsin again came up short after losing by three to Maryland on a last-second 3-pointer by Melo Trimble on Saturday.
Northwestern, which recorded its most lopsided Big Ten road win since 1944 at Minnesota on Saturday, went on a 12-3 run midway through the second half to wipe out a 47-45 deficit.
The Wildcats scored seven straight, Joey van Zegeren's alley-oop dunk off a feed from McIntosh igniting the crowd.
McIntosh then scored on a layup and answered a 3 by Bronson Koenig with one of his own. Two free throws by Aaron Falzon finished the run, making it 57-50 with 4:45 remaining.
HE SAID IT
Gard on his future and what he is trying to show athletic director Barry Alvarez: "I've never worried about that. I've said from Day 1 I've always had a one-year contract in 26 years of coaching. My job is to help these guys be the best team they can be this year."
Wisconsin: The Badgers are 2-4 since Ryan abruptly announced his retirement immediately after the Badgers' victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 15.
Northwestern: The Wildcats held a moment of silence for former coach Bill Foster, who died last week at age 86 following a lengthy illness.
Wisconsin hosts Michigan State on Sunday.