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Wisconsin’s Brevin Pritzl is finding his touch from outside

The sophomore guard is shooting 57 percent from deep since missing 10 three-pointers over a two-game span.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl has long been regarded as a sharpshooter by his teammates. This season, we have seen some flashes of what those behind closed doors have seen.

Last season, Nigel Hayes dubbed Pritzl the best shooter in the country and challenged the then-redshirt freshman:

“Brevin Pritzl is the best shooter in the country. He is just scared to shoot the ball. I hope he sees this. I’m challenging my teammate publicly. I hope people see this on Twitter and people tell him what his teammate said about him.”

Pritzl has been up to the task this season and has accepted Hayes’s challenge, hoisting up 130 shots from outside of the arc, second-most on the team, trailing only Brad Davison’s 146. Pritzl has connected on 46 of those attempts, good for a 35 percent clip that ranks him outside of the Big Ten’s top 15 marksmen.

While Pritzl has been more eager to shoot the 3-ball, having attempted at least one in every game this season, his shooting percentage has seen its up and downs, as has his scoring.

Pritzl has appeared in 28 games and has registered double-digit points in half of them. No surprise that hitting more three-pointers translates to more points—Pritzl has hit multiple three-pointers in 10 of the 14 games where he has scored 10-plus points.

While Pritzl has seen success at times, he has been held scoreless in five games this season, having missed a combined 17 shots from behind the arc in them.

Most notable were back-to-back scoreless outings earlier this month.

Pritzl went 0-of-11 from the field and 0-of-9 from long range in Wisconsin’s 60–52 loss to Northwestern on Feb. 1. After playing 35 minutes in the loss to the Wildcats, he saw only six minutes three days later in Wisconsin’s 68–63 loss to Maryland. Pritzl was 0-of-3 from the field and 0-of-1 from long range against the Terrapins.

However, since those back-to-back games, Pritzl is shooting 58 percent (15-of-26) from the field and 57 percent (12-of-21) from deep in Wisconsin last four games, where the Badgers hold a 3–1 record.

Pritzl started his hot streak in Wisconsin’s 78–69 win over Illinois, hitting all three of the shots he took from long range while scoring 15 points. He then added 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-5 from 3) in the 83–72 loss to Michigan and went 2-of-5 from the field (1-of-4 from 3) while scoring eight in Wisconsin’s upset win over No. 6 Purdue, icing the game for the Badgers over the final 19 seconds by hitting 3-4 free throws.

Pritzl’s most notable game in cardinal and white was his last, where he scored a career-high 20 points to help Wisconsin extend its streak to eight consecutive wins over Minnesota.

Pritzl went 6-of-10 from the floor, 6-of-9 from deep, and 2-of-2 from the line. However, he saved his best for last, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the second half and overtime combined, more notably in the final 11 minutes of play.

Pritzl was 2-of-3 from the field (all three-pointers) over the final six minutes of regulation, bringing the Badgers within four points of the Gophers on two occasions and scoring six points in overtime for the Badgers on 2-of-2 shooting. He put the Badgers up three as the period opened and then pushed Wisconsin out to a six point lead just over three minutes into the overtime period.

With two more tune-ups remaining in the regular season prior to the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin will be relying on Pritzl to continue his current hot streak and join Ethan Happ and Davison as a consistent offensive contributor. Wisconsin is 8–6 in games where the sophomore scores 10+ points.

While the Badgers’ season hangs in the balance and a Big Ten Tournament championship is needed for them to make a 19th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, there is one certainty that remains—Pritzl is a shooter.

And shooters shoot.