Wisconsin brought the heat to start Thursday's game in cold West Lafayette, Ind., and stayed cool at the end when it was necessary. As a result, the Badgers earned a streak-busting 67-62 victory at Purdue.
Not only did Wisconsin (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten) snap its own three-game skid, but UW also ended a 26-game home winning streak for Purdue (13-5, 3-2). With the win, the Badgers thrust themselves back into the pack in a muddled conference race.
A fast start sparked the Badgers, which is something players like Josh Gasser and Ryan Evans had emphasized during the week. Wisconsin hit five of its first six 3-pointers while holding Purdue to 26% first-half shooting. The Boilermakers scored the game's first basket, but it would be their only lead of the entire game.
As you might expect, though, Purdue made it very interesting. The Boilers whittled a 9-point lead down to four points on three separate occasions in the final minute, but the Badgers hit their final eight free throws to ice the win.
Never was Wisconsin's resilience more on display, however, than following a critical three-minute stretch midway through the second half.
Ben Brust had just given UW a 45-30 lead with a trey at the 15-minute mark before Purdue started to make its push. It started with Jordan Taylor gambling on a steal to give Terone Johnson an easy lay-in. Brust then bobbled a pass that would have given him an easy deuce on the block. After a pump fake, he managed only a wild airballed layup. What followed were three barely contested 3-pointers that rang true for Purdue, aided by embarrassing back-to-back Badger turnovers. As the crowd reached a fevered pitch, all of a sudden the Boilermakers were within 45-41 with 12:10 remaining.
Following a Jared Berggren turnover a minute later, redshirt freshman Anthony Johnson cut the lead to two. That is when Taylor attracted triple coverage and found Mike Bruesewitz in the corner for a tourniquet 3-pointer. Bruesewitz would hit yet another a few minutes later after a bull rush by Terone Johnson pulled Purdue within three points again. The Badgers wouldn't look back.
With Purdue shooting only 34% for the game, second-chance points and turnovers were key to giving Purdue hope. The Boilermakers out-rebounded the UW, 13-5, on the offensive glass and committed only three turnovers while Wisconsin's uncharacteristic 12 turnovers helped keep the home team in the game, even when it looked at times like the Badger might blow them out.
Overall, Wisconsin made 8-of-9 field goals during a six-minutes stretch following Lewis Jackson's game-opening jumper. Purdue head coach Matt Painter took two full timeouts to try to stop the Badger barrage, but he was helpless against the 22-2 run that ensued.
The Badgers' lead hovered around 18 points and remained in double-digits even as their shooting went cold -- at one point missing eight 3-pointers in a row. The touch returned after the break and Wisconsin finished 19-of-40 (47.5%) from the field and 9-of-20 (45%) behind the arc -- remarkably better than the
Though Taylor was held scoreless on one shot attempt in the first half, Gasser picked up the slack. He showed renewed interest on the offensive end, driving past his defender for several layups and finishing strong. Gasser had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists to lead UW to a 34-22 halftime advantage.
The sophomore guard was part of a total team effort Thursday night. Five Badgers scored in double-figures, led by Brust's 13 points, and Bo Ryan got nine good minutes from Frank Kaminsky in relief of an ineffective Berggren.
But two players seemed to stand above the rest in the second half. Armed with a freshly-grown ginger goatee, Bruesewitz willed his team to victory by virtue of five big defensive rebounds and two of his four clutch 3-pointers. Bruesewitz finished with 12 points before fouling out.
Give Taylor credit also. The senior got busy in the second half right away. He answered two quick Ryne Smith 3-pointers with six straight points of his own. He added five rebounds and five assists to his 12 points, including 8-of-10 shooting on free throws.
Wisconsin had little defense for Terone Johnson driving to the hoop late in the game, but it was too little, too late. Johnson, who came into the game shooting 25% from the charity stripe, hit 6-of-8 free throws en route to a game-high 16 points. However, Johnson (4-of-13) and Robbie Hummel (5-of-17) needed 30 shots to score 29 combined points.
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