On the road, playing in one of the most daunting arenas in college basketball, uncharacteristic turnovers and poor shooting had the struggling Wisconsin Badgers backed up on the ropes in the second half against No. 14 Syracuse.
Just three days removed from a ghastly performance at No. 7 Oklahoma, an inexperienced group of Badgers could have withered in front of a raucous contingent at the Carrier Dome when, in a flash, a second-half lead turned into a six-point deficit, and they trailed by four points with under three minutes to play.
They didn't wither.
Instead, the Badgers chipped away, forced overtime and walked off the court with a hard-fought and well-earned 66-58 victory.
What was most indicative of Wisconsin's all-around effort? They out-rebounded Syracuse, 51-25, with 16 of those coming on the offensive end.
With 12:41 remaining in the second half, the Orange (6-1) unfurled a shooting clinic in just 77 seconds that sent the Badgers (5-3)from holding the lead to bloody, battered and bruised.
Trevor Cooney's three-pointer gave the Orange its first lead in 20 minutes at 35-33. A punch to the gut.
Then, Michael Gbinije pulled up from deep and found the nylon. A left hook to the jaw.
Thirty seconds later, Cooney again. Another blow to the jaw. 41-35 Syracuse.
The knockout blow, however, hadn't been landed. Wisconsin forced overtime, where a 9-0 run sealed the victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge match-up.
Redshirt freshman forward Ethan Happ's career day of 18 points and 15 rebounds helped overcome the team's 20 turnovers as the Badgers gave Syracuse its first loss of the season.
Junior forward Nigel Hayes had a double-double of his own with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow junior forward Vitto Brown found his shooting range to add 14 points and junior guard Bronson Koenig scored 12 to round out Wisconsin's scoring leaders.
The Badgers were able to overcome a bevy of sloppy possessions offensively by winning the battle on the boardsand limiting the Orange to 35.7 percent shooting (20-of-56) and .806 points per possession.
After draining 34 triples on 46.6 three-point percent shooting over three games en route to winning the Battle 4 Atlantis last week, Syracuse connected on only seven of 24 three point attempts.
Gbinije, who posted a game-high 19 points, had four of the Orange's seven three-pointers. His last made it a 52-48 deficit for the Badgers with 3:12 left in the second half.
Happ then scored on a layup with 2:11 to play and Syracuse forward Tyler Roberson split a pair of free throws. A cold-blooded three pointer from Koenig tied the Orange at 53 with 1:25 remaining.
Cooney missed a jumper to give Wisconsin a chance to take the lead with under a minute to play.
Fitting for the night, however, Hayes turned the ball over when he inexplicably threw the ball out of bounds. After an Orange turnover with 10 seconds remaining gave the ball right back to the Badgers, Koenig set up Brown with an open elbow jumper to win the game at the buzzer, but it fell well short.
In the extra period, Gbinije and Cooney both went 1-for-2 on trips to the charity stripe to open up a 55-53 lead.
With poise under pressure, the Badgers once again dodged a fatal blow, this time delivering a knockout punch of their own. Junior guard Zak Showalter banked a runner off the glass and a Hayes and-one gave Wisconsin a 58-55 lead--its first in nearly eight minutes.
With 1:33 left, the Badgers faced an inbounds play with five seconds remaining on the shot clock. Trapped on the block, Showalter deftly passed back to the inbound passer, Happ, whose emphatic dunk extended the Wisconsin lead to two possessions at 60-55.
Showalter once again was the Swiss Army Knife for the Badgers, finishing with six points on 3-6 shooting, six rebounds, five assists, one steal and two charges taken.
Wisconsin led 27-24 at the end of the first half.
Tied at 14, the Badgers rattled off seven consecutive points while holding the Orange off the scoreboard over a 4:42 stretch. Wisconsin then pulled out to an eight-point lead at 25-17 on a Brown corner jumper that capped a 4-0 mini-run with 4:25 to play in the first half.
A missed layup and turnover by freshman guard Khalil Iverson allowed for a 5-0 Syracuse run to close the Badgers lead to 27-24 at the half.
Against the tight Syracuse 2-3 zone, Brown's shooting from the high post gave the Badgers the edge. Brown led all scorers at the intermission with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. As a team, Wisconsin connected on 12-of-29 shots (41.4 percent) and out-rebounded the Orange 23-11.
After Cooney's triple made it a 41-35 game, the Badgers moved Hayes into the high post, where he took charge. Hayes, who finished with six assists, accounted for 13 of his team's next 15 points
A switch in the offense to move Hayes to the high post against the zone sparked the Wisconsin offense as a 13-7 run tied the game at 48.
The Badgers shot 41.7 percent (25-60) from the field as their struggles from three-point range continued on 5-of-18 shooting from deep.