USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin's hopes at even a shared Big Ten championship now hang by a thread following a crushing loss against Purdue. Ice-cold shooting killed the Badgers, as the club hit just six of 28 three-point shots and missed its final 17 attempts. D.J. Byrd scored a season-high 22 behind 6-of-9 three-point shooting for the Boilermakers.
MADISON, Wis. -- Bo Ryan is now 11-1 on Senior Day at Wisconsin.
The Badgers (20-9, 11-5 Big Ten) dropped a stunner Sunday in Madison as Purdue (14-15, 7-9 Big Ten) came back from a double-digit first-half deficit to earn a 69-56 victory behind a crushing 38-20 second half. The Badgers missed their final 17 three-point attempts and shot a horrific 29.6 percent from the field in the second half.
It was a forgettable day for Wisconsin's seniors, as the trio of Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren combined to shoot just 9-of-24 (37.5 percent). Evans had a respectably efficient day with 10 points and 7 rebounds on six field goal attempts, but Bruesewitz made just one of his six shot attempts and missed a critical layup with Wisconsin trailing 59-52 with 3:30 to go in the game. Berggren managed 13 points, four blocks and eight rebounds, but missed five of his six three-point attempts on the game.
Wisconsin controlled the game early. The Badgers jumped out to a 36-24 lead with 4:24 to go in the first half and limited the Boilermakers -- the 29th-best offensive rebounding team in the nation at 37.2 percent -- to just one offensive rebound to that point.
The Boilermakers' couldn't be kept off the offensive glass, though, as the squad hauled in three offensive rebounds in the last 4:24 as part of a 7-0 run to close the half. The trend continued into the second half. Purdue rebounded seven of their 15 missed field goals (46.7 percent) in the second half and picked up an offensive rebound off a free throw miss as well; the Boilermakers score eight points off these rebounds and used the subsequent possessions to run precious seconds off the clock, particularly in the second half.
Purdue's physicality was most noticeable in a 4:03 span (beginning at 17:03) in the second half when Evans was sent to the bench with three fouls. Purdue won the stretch 12-2, made four of their seven shots, recorded two steals and rebounded all seven missed shot attempts over those 243 seconds.
D.J. Byrd was the engine for the Boilermakers, as his 6-of-9 three-point shooting fueled a season-high-tying 22 point day to go with eight rebounds. Guard Terone Johnson added 16 points (7-15 FG), seven rebounds and four assists and guard Ronnie Johnson added a game-high eight assists.
Purdue's 45.6 percent shooting belies the quality of their performance. Whether it was off-balance threes from Byrd or floaters from the Johnson brothers, it felt like the degree of difficulty on Purdue's makes was high all game long.
"They were just hitting tough shots. This game kind of reminded me of the Cornell game my freshman year," Evans said, referring to the 2010 NCAA tournament game in which the Big Red shot 61.1 percent from the field and 53.6 percent from three in an 87-69 defeat of the Badgers. "Teams that are hitting floaters, that's a shot we like teams to take. That's one of the toughest shots in the game. They happened to be good at it. Now if we see them in the [Big Ten] Tournament, we're probably going to try and take that away a little more."
The ice-cold three-point shooting for Wisconsin, however, remains the most glaring statistic of the game. Coach Bo Ryan has stressed all year how much the game changes when a few shots go down; the Badgers' 0-for-12 three-point shooting in the second half showed the inverse.
"Those were some of the most wide open threes we've had all year," Ryan said. "I saw that 0-for-12, and I knew we had missed a bunch, but I didn't know we had missed that many. I think if you can hit a couple of those while they were making their run and we keep it right there I think it helps our guys, but when we got behind and tried to play from behind, that's a little tougher for our guys."
The loss was a two-pronged disappointment. Not only did the Badgers drop their first Senior Day under Bo Ryan -- at 11 wins, the streak was by far the longest in the nation, with Purdue now holding the active mark at three -- but the loss drops them into a two-way tie for third in the conference.
"It's tough, just thinking about all the time you've put in with these guys and all the memories you've made," Berggren said. "For it to come to an end playing at the Kohl Center like this, it's an emotional moment. This is a pretty big loss for us, so that hurts."
The Badgers travel to Michigan State and Penn State for the final two game of the season. The Badgers lost any chance at winning the conference championship outright Sunday, as Indiana (13-3) now holds a two game lead in the conference with two remaining for each team. A bye on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament could be in question as well; the Badgers own just a half-game lead over Michigan, although they will hold tiebreakers over the Wolverines (on head-to-head results) and Ohio State (based on record against the conference champion) should Indiana hold on to the conference lead as expected.