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Wisconsin basketball: Minnesota recap

The Badgers hold off the Gophers for their sixth straight win.

Dan Sanger

After losing by 18 points a month ago in Minneapolis, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (19-10 overall, 12-6 B1G) was out for revenge Sunday evening in Madison against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-15 overall, 7-11 B1G).

Playing some of their best basketball of the season of late, the Badgers were able to take down the Gophers 71 to 69. The game marked the sixth straight victory for Wisconsin, and maintained the Badger’s spot in the conference standings as tied for second with only two games remaining on their schedule.

In the first few minutes of the game, Minnesota came out the gates hot with a 10-3 lead, as the Badgers were unable to get anything going offensively. That didn’t last long though. Wisconsin would respond with a 11-0 run over to take a four point lead with 12:19 left to go in the first half.

The two teams would continue to see-saw back and forth over the course of the remaining time left in the first half, as the Badgers couldn’t shake their shootings struggles. At the half though, Wisconsin held a three point lead over the Gophers after a fantastic layup by Brad Davison.

In the second half, Wisconsin would bolster their lead in the first few minutes thanks to some continued strong play by Davison, and improved shooting. The Badgers held a seven point lead — 42 to 35 — at the first media timeout of the second half.

Wisconsin would continue to add to that margin, extending it to 12 at one point, but Minnesota would fire back with a run to cut the deficit back to single digits midway through the second half. The Badgers went over six minutes without a made basket from the field, allowing Minnesota to claw back into it and tie the game up with 8:50 left to play.

The Gophers would actually go on to take a lead with five minutes left to play, but the Badgers would storm back and pull out the win in the final seconds 71 to 69.

Notable stat lines:

  • Brad Davison —> 20 points (6-of-13 from the floor), five assists, seven rebounds
  • Brevin Pritzl —> 15 points (5-of-11 from the floor), three rebounds, one steal
  • Micah Potter —> 10 points (3-of-7 from the floor), six rebounds, three blocks
  • Daniel Oturu (Minnesota) —> 26 points (9-of-19 from the floor), 12 rebounds
  • Marcus Carr (Minnesota) —> 21 points (9-of-13 from the floor), four assists, two rebounds

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Hometown response

Hailing from the suburbs of the Twin Cities, Brad Davison had a rough homecoming in Minneapolis earlier this season. The junior guard was unable to make a field-goal in 24 minutes of game action, and finished with only four points. In addition to a tough showing, he was the focal point of the Minnesota student section’s pestering.

After a game he would rather forget up in Minneapolis, Brad Davison flipped the script in the second go-round. Not only did he pour in a team high 20 points, but Davison also was active on the glass with seven boards, and tallied five assists. His offensive support was necessary as the team struggled to really get in a rhythm for a good subsection of the game. His most impressive effort though may have been on the defensive end.

In the first match up shooting guard Payton Willis gashed the Badgers with 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from deep. Sunday night Willis was held to three points, with Davison drawing the assignment most of the night.

No. 2: Border Battle slug-fest

After five-straight games in which the Badgers shot extremely well, it was just a matter of time before they cooled off. In the first half, the Badgers shot only 36.4% from the field, and even more alarming a chilly 21.4% from three-point range. Both teams were tough on the interior though, battling and scrapping for everything they could get with the shots not falling at a high rate in the first half.

The Badgers started out the second half shooting much better, but eventually would level back out once again. The two teams were each in the bonus early in the second half as a fouling barrage made the game much more choppy. The two teams combined for 29 fouls in the second half alone, in what was a highly contested and very physical game. In the end though, the Badgers were able to get some big stops, none bigger than Nate Reuvers’ block of Daniel Oturu late in the game.

No. 3: Two-man trouble

Minnesota absolutely had their way with the Badgers offensively with Marcus Carr and Daniel Oturu carrying the load. The duo did everything for the Gophers, most of which occurred in the paint.

Wisconsin had a hard time with the quickness of Carr around the screen, and the size of Oturu inside. The two opposing standouts accounted for a combined 47 points and 14 rebounds, and were the primary reasons for Minnesota’s ability to hang around all game long.

In front of a packed Kohl Center though, it was not enough, as the Badgers were able to do just enough to pull out a close victory.

Up next: The Badgers will have their final home game of the season on Wednesday against the Northwestern Wildcats. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network at 8 p.m. CST.