Purdue vs. Wisconsin recap: On Senior Night, Badgers win 8th straight

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Kaminsky's 22 points led all scorers as the Badgers kept on rolling.

MADISON -- Here's a list of top-25 teams that have lost since Saturday: Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse (twice), Creighton (twice), Iowa State (twice), Duke, Ohio State, Louisville, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Texas, Kentucky and Southern Methodist.

None of those losses likely make or break a season -- though it might feel like the sky is falling for the Orange, who have lost four of five -- but it's the kind of thing that doesn't help the blood pressure of bracket-watching fans across the country in March.

There's been none of that proverbial Madness for Wisconsin recently, though. The train just keeps rolling. Wednesday night's team in the tracks: The Boilermakers. No pun intended.

Junior center Frank Kaminsky led the way for the No. 9 Badgers (25-5 overall, 12-5 Big Ten) on senior night, tallying a game-high 22 points on an efficient 8-of-11 from the floor (4-of-5 3-point), en route to UW's eighth straight win, a 76-70 decision over Purdue.

"[Kaminsky] has really done a good job of taking what the defense gives him," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "If he feels he has a mismatch, which I think he feels with Hammons and his inability to move his feet at times, he's going to look to drive him. That's the hardest cover for [Hammons]."

This was one of those games that wasn't exactly close but never actually turned into a blowout. In the first half, it looked like UW might run Purdue (15-15, 5-12) out of the building when it built a 24-10 lead in the first half, but the Boilermakers hung around. They were never quite in striking distance-the Purdue got was within seven at the 5:18 mark of the second half before a three from Kendall Stephens at the buzzer produced the final score, but didn't possess the offensive firepower to really push the Badgers.

"I thought the score was a little misrepresentative of the game just because I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping control," UW junior point guard Traevon Jackson said. "I thought we played well."

Despite ultimately finishing at 44.2 percent (23-of-52) from the floor, Purdue struggled mightily shooting the ball early, hitting just five of its first 20 shots. It finished 3-of-14 from three-point range. Wisconsin has now held its last two opponents to 4-of-27 from deep (14.8 percent) and its last five to a collective 20.9 percent (22-of-105).

"We battled through some things," said UW head coach Bo Ryan, whose team has won eight consecutive conference games for the first time since the 1940-41 campaign. "Purdue was playing very hard. They were attacking like crazy and dribbling right into us. I'm still trying to figure out what our guys can do defensively besides absorb the contact."

Senior UW guard Ben Brust did most of his damage in the first half, accounting for seven of his nine points, but the Hawthorn Woods, Illinois native seemed to keep the offense from going stagnant at times, cutting hard, fighting for loose balls and rebounding (he finished with four), despite shooting 3-of-11. Zach Bohannon and Evan Anderson, the other two Badgers acknowledged before the game, each saw time in the final minute. Bohannon made two free throws with 10.6 seconds left to cap Wisconsin's scoring.

UW has won 12 of 13 senior night games under Ryan, with the lone loss coming a year ago against Purdue.

"It was nice to have everybody smiling in the locker room and smiling after the game," Brust said. [It's] much better to get a win in your last time on the home floor. I've had some amazing experiences here and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do the rest of the way."

Sophomore forward Sam Dekker was held to just five points (1-of-7 FG, 0-of-2 3-pt.) and five rebounds, but was picked up by Jackson (14 points, 4-of-6 FG, 2-of-3 3-point, four assists, one turnover) and redshirt junior guard Josh Gasser (13 points, 2-of-6 FG, 9-of-10 FT). Dekker had only scored in single digits five times this season before Wednesday night.

Dekker has now scored in single digits two games in a row, the first time this season that's happened. He scored seven against Penn State Sunday and is 3-of-13 from the floor over the last two games. Dekker's lowest scoring output this season came Feb. 1 when he finished with four points in a loss against Ohio State.

"Any time you have balance, it's hard," Painter said. "Sometimes when you knock out a team's top guy, you're going to win. That's not the case when you play Wisconsin."

This wasn't the prettiest win, but it's another notch in the belt. Another step toward solidifying a two-seed in the NCAA tournament. A step toward-maybe-challenging for a spot on the selection committee's top line. It's a win. Looking around the country the last few days, you can bet the Badgers are plenty happy with it.

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