The No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers secured a comfortable second half lead, only to see it erased on Sunday afternoon inside Value City Arena. Their chances for the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament were almost wiped out as well, but UW rebounded in overtime to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 73-67.
Wisconsin (22-9, 14-6 Big Ten) never trailed in the game, but an offensive foul called on Ethan Happ during the final seconds of regulation gave Ohio State (18-13, 8-12) a chance to complete a remarkable come-from-behind win. Fortunately for the Badgers, C.J. Jackson’s attempt three was off, allowing UW to attempt to regain their footing in the extra five-minute period.
Before looking ahead to the Big Ten Tournament forthcoming, some closing thoughts on the too-close-for-comfort win on the road in Columbus.
A game that nearly turned disastrous
Wisconsin held a 23-point lead with 16:05 remaining in the game, and even at the 7:14 mark after Ohio State continued to fight back, Greg Gard’s team held a 22-point advantage at 58-36 after a Davison layup.
Then the wheels almost fell completely off, as the Buckeyes outscored the Badgers 27-5 in the final 6:51 of the game.
Big Ten Conference matchups this season have been full of tough, hard-fought matchups, and nearly every UW conference contest outside of home wins against Northwestern and Iowa have been of the blowout variety.
Wisconsin appeared ready to cruise to victory on Sunday—and maybe Ohio State was due for an epic comeback on its home court on in a senior day atmosphere after two straight humbling losses at Purdue (35-point drubbing) and Northwestern (18-point defeat) without standout forward Kaleb Wesson.
However, UW eventually reasserted control in overtime, something it did not do at Indiana, at Marquette, or at home against Purdue earlier this season. Likely should not have ended this way, but a win is a win in the conference, and the Badgers locked down a double bye and finished in the top four of the Big Ten once again.
Check out our latest episode with former Wisconsin standout Brian Butch talking about the Badgers’ season, their win against Ohio State and what lies ahead in the Big Ten Tournament! Be sure to follow Bucky’s 5th Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and pretty much everywhere where you listen to your favorite podcasts!
Khalil Iverson is playing the best basketball of his career at the right time
The senior forward again established himself early and often in the win, recording career-highs with 22 points and 14 rebounds. He connected on 10 of 14 attempts overall, and he started the game with the first basket of the game, then also scored the first four points of overtime for Wisconsin.
It seems like over the course of the season, Wisconsin has had a rotating carousel of players stepping up to be the secondary complement redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ—who he himself nearly recorded a triple-double with 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists on Sunday. From D’Mitrik Trice to Brad Davison to Nate Reuvers to even Brevin Pritzl to now Iverson, someone has stepped up in some fashion in the scoring department.
For the senior though, this is the perfect time to do so to end his Wisconsin career. In the last six games, Iverson has averaged 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Five of those six contests he has scored in double figures, and he recorded two double-doubles—the first two of his career—in the last two contests.
Nice rebound for Brad Davison on the road
In the three games prior to Sunday’s regular season finale, the sophomore guard suffered a hint of a slump, making just 4-of-22 shots (18.2 percent) overall and 2-of-13 from three-point range in that span.
Against Ohio State, Davison contributed 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting and made three of six three-point attempts.
Wisconsin needs production from its guards in the upcoming conference tourney and NCAA Tournament to make a splash, whether it’s from Davison, Trice or reserves Pritzl and Kobe King.
Taking a step back on the regular season that was
After a rough 2017-18 campaign where Wisconsin missed the NCAA Tournament and finished outside the top four of the conference in what seemed like an eternity, UW finished the 2018-19 season with under 10 losses, and only six in conference play as seemingly tough as the Big Ten was this year.
Needless to say, it was quite the bounce back for Greg Gard, his staff, and his players.
Granted, there were games Wisconsin should have won at Marquette, vs. Purdue, at Indiana to name a few ... all overtime contests for that matter. The team played some rough basketball at times as well (see: first half performances at home against Minnesota and at Maryland, some periodic scoring droughts as well), but UW was pretty much in contention during every contest it played.
UW also overcame losing four of five contests in a late December/early January stretch with a six-game winning streak that started against then-No. 2 Michigan at home.
We know the strengths and weaknesses of this Wisconsin squad heading into the Big Ten Tournament and beyond. We will see which ones show up in the upcoming contests at which opportune (or inopportune) times, and how the Badgers can overcome them.