It wasn't always pretty, but it didn't have to be for the Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Facing a Gophers team with only six scholarship players due to a flurry of player suspensions and a dismissal, the Badgers (20-10, 12-5 Big Ten) led coast to coast for a 62-49 win, their 11th in 12 games.
With the victory, Wisconsin extended its streak of top-four finishes in the Big Ten to 15 seasons. Less than two months ago, with the Badgers sitting at 1-4 in conference play, that result seemed like a far-fetched illusion.
Junior Bronson Koenig scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the first half and Ethan Happ posted his ninth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Koenig sparked Wisconsin to a 40-24 halftime lead, which was more than enough on this evening.
The Badgers' largest lead of the game came at 21 points on a Khalil Iverson double-clutch baseline dunk at the 14:53 mark of the second half. A nearly nine-minute field goal drought then hampered Wisconsin, allowing Minnesota to claw back to within 11 points.
Vitto Brown, who finished with 12 points, ended a drought with a three-pointer to extend the lead to 15 points.
For the game, Wisconsin shot 46 percent (24-for-52) and scored 1.033 points per possession. A clearly depleted Gophers offense mustered only .817 points per possession, turning the ball over 13 times while making just 16 field goals.
With one game remaining in the regular season, Wisconsin needs to win at Purdue on Sunday or see Maryland lose out in order to achieve a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament.