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Following COVID issues, Northwestern to host Wisconsin

Jan 15, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Northwestern Wildcats coach Chris Collins talks to forward Robbie Beran (31) in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a pair of losses and two postponements, Northwestern will look to get back on track when it hosts Wisconsin in a Big Ten matchup on Monday evening at Evanston, Ill.

The game originally was scheduled for this past Saturday but was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Northwestern program.

Northwestern (12-5, 3-3) also had its game scheduled for last Wednesday at Iowa postponed. The Wildcats dropped their two previous games, 65-62 at home vs. Rutgers, followed by their first road loss of the season at Michigan, 85-78.

Wisconsin (12-5, 4-3), which had lost three straight without injured co-leading scorer Tyler Wahl, held off Penn State 63-60 at home on Tuesday in Wahl’s return.

“I’m just really proud of our guys how they’ve continued to persevere and stay the course, trust everything that was going on and find a way,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said. “It hasn’t been a real fun last 10 days or so around here, but these guys have stayed with us and continued to battle.”

The presence of Wahl, who missed all three defeats with an injured ankle, provides a huge boost for Wisconsin. He should benefit from the extra two days of rest. The senior preseason All-Big Ten pick had 10 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes against Penn State.

Wahl averages 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Steven Crowl, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds vs. Penn State, adds 12.9 points and a team-best 6.8 boards. Freshman guard Connor Essegian, who made his first start vs. the Nittany Lions, averages 10.5 points and has a team-high 36 3-pointers.

As for Northwestern, the Wildcats led Michigan midway through the second half before allowing a decisive 10-0 run.

“Disappointed in the loss. I thought we put ourselves in position on the road to get one, which isn’t easy,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “Our guys did a really good job of doing that, but Michigan made more plays than us.”

Northwestern, 8-3 at home, allows 60.8 points per game overall but has given up an average of 71.5 in conference play.

“We became good by committing ourselves to being elite defensively,” Collins said. “We’ve just got to get back to doing that. Obviously, the competition has improved, of who we’re playing and the teams we’re playing. But we can’t give up 85 points on the road and expect to win.”

Chase Audige averages a team-best 15.3 points, followed by Boo Buie at 15.1.

Wisconsin has won the past seven matchups with Northwestern, including 82-76 last season at Evanston.

–Field Level Media

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