Feb. 3, 2007
MADISON, Wis. -- Playing in one of the toughest venues in college basketball, the Northwestern Wildcats (11-11, 1-8) fell to the second-ranked Wisconsin Badgers 69-52 today at a sold out Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Freshman Kevin Coble led a strong second-half comeback attempt, scoring 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. He hit a season-high 10 field goals, including three from long range -- one of which rimmed in and out. He also led the 'Cats with seven rebounds and three steals.
The difference in the game was the disparity in free throws and second-chance points. Wisconsin, who is now 88-5 at the Kohl Center in the last five years, made 16-of-20 from the stripe while Northwestern went to the line just twice. On the glass, Wisconsin turned 13 offensive rebounds into 16 extra points.
But right when it appeared Northwestern was going to get run out of the gym by the No. 2-ranked team in the country who has now won 19-straight at home, the Wildcats reached down and found something extra. Trailing 62-38 with 8:53 to go, NU made the Badger faithful feel a bit uneasy as they ran off a 14-0 run over the next 5:33 to make it 62-52. It started with three-straight layups by Coble, Jeremy Nash and Jeff Ryan, cutting the lead to 18.
Then back-to-back 3-pointers by Phoenix-natives Vince Scott and Coble trimmed it to 12 points before Jason Okrzesik, who made his first career start, found Scott underneath for a layup to cap off the run. Wisconsin's offense tightened up during that span, turning the ball over three times and going 0-of-6 from the field.
Unfortunately, the 'Cats didn't find the basket the rest of the way. But their defense held strong, holding Wisconsin to just two field goals over the final 8:53.
In the first half, Northwestern kept things close. After an Alando Tucker jumper in the paint made it 11-4 Wisconsin, Northwestern held the Badgers scoreless over the next seven minutes. However, Northwestern was unable to convert themselves. Wisconsin's lead grew to as much as 11 with 3:49 left, but consecutive field goals by Coble and Ryan made it 26-19 Wisconsin at the last media timeout. The Badgers scored the final seven points of the half to take a 33-19 lead at the break.
That momentum carried into the second period as Wisconsin's lead quickly grew to 20 points after Michael Flowers and Tucker hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 43-23. A 3-pointer by Coble and layup from Tim Doyle helped trim the lead to 14 before a three from Kammron Taylor and a layup from Joe Krabbenhoft pushed the deficit back to 19 with 12:17 left.
Scott and Doyle finished with nine points each. Ryan added six and Nash rounded out the scoring with four.
Tucker led three Wisconsin players in double-figures with 20 points, followed by 15 from Taylor and 12 from Flowers.
The Wildcats are back home next Wednesday night against in-state rival Illinois. Game time is 6 p.m. CT.