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RECAP: Wisconsin sneaks past USC in 64-59 thriller at Battle 4 Atlantis

Fueled by a game-high 17 points from Chucky Hepburn, the Badgers secured a win to improve to 5-1.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Wisconsin at Southern California Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the USC Trojans in their final game at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, with a Chucky Hepburn steal-and-score sealing a 64-59 win.

With the victory, the Badgers now improve to 5-1 on the season, with an impressive week where they overcame offensive deficiencies to defeat Dayton and went head-to-toe with No. 3 Kansas before this morning’s win over USC.

After significant struggles offensively earlier in the week, Hepburn began the game strong, scoring the initial points of the game with a three-pointer off a fast break before matching two Drew Peterson threes with a long-distance shot of his own to make it 6-6 early on.

Then, Tyler Wahl and Boogie Ellis went back-and-forth, as the Wisconsin forward slammed a dunk off a fast break, to which the USC guard responded with a three-pointer to give the Trojans an 11-8 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Wahl hit a hook shot, but Ellis, once again, came down the court and fired a three-pointer.

Following the first media timeout at 12:54, Wisconsin caught fire from behind the arc as Steven Crowl, Connor Essegian, and Jordan Davis hit threes on consecutive drives to give the Badgers their first lead since their opening points.

Wisconsin native Kobe Johnson scored his first points of the game a minute later, hitting a three-pointer that sparked a quick 7-0 USC run before Chucky Hepburn responded with his third three of the game.

Boogie Ellis remained hot, however, hitting yet another three-pointer before following it up with a jumper following a Wisconsin turnover on the next USC possession.

To end the half, both sides remained competitive, unleashing a back-and-forth race on the offensive end, which started with a 7-0 Wisconsin run sparked by Jordan Davis to provide them with a 31-30 lead at the 3:29 mark of the first period.

Drew Peterson’s jumper was followed by an Isaac Lindsey three-pointer, and after a cold stretch from both sides, Steven Crowl went to work in the paint for a hook shot to increase Wisconsin’s lead to 36-32 with just 34 seconds remaining in the half.

However, as expected, Boogie Ellis returned to the fold offensively, hitting a last-second and-1 jumper over Max Klesmit off an offensive rebound to end the half, although he missed the free throw.

USC was incredibly efficient in the first half, shooting 50% from the field and 46.2% from three, with Boogie Ellis leading the charge at 13 points on 5/9 shooting, as well as a +- of 9, which easily led the Trojans.

Drew Peterson converted 3/4 of his opportunities into eight points, including two three-pointers, serving as a good complement to Ellis offensively, although he did have three turnovers.

Wisconsin had a strong half offensively as well, shooting 50% from the field and 43.8% from distance, with Chucky Hepburn scoring nine points off three three-pointers in his best performance of the year.

The biggest difference from the Kansas game? Rebounding.

Wisconsin and USC had 15 rebounds a piece at the half, including three offensive boards on each side.

To begin the second half, after a Chucky Hepburn layup, USC went on a 10-2 run to regain the lead at 41-40, with Kobe Johnson and Reese Dixon-Waters each scoring five points of their own.

After a slight scoring drought, the Connor Essegian show began, as the freshman guard knocked down three-pointers on consecutive drives to regain the lead for Wisconsin, although USC responded well to make it another back-and-forth battle.

Drew Peterson knocked down another three-pointer, to which Tyler Wahl responded with an and-1 of his own to tie the game at 51-51.

Peterson wasn’t finished though as he exchanged three-pointers with Essegian before hitting another one from downtown two possessions later.

Wisconsin relied on their stars to bring them back, which is exactly what happened, as Tyler Wahl hit a layup and a jumper, while Chucky Hepburn made a nice stepback two-pointer on a quick 6-0 run to give the Badgers a 60-57 lead with 3:29 remaining.

Down the stretch, USC created several opportunities with open looks, but could not connect as they went on a cold stretch, scoring just two points over the last 5:42 of the second half.

With 20 seconds remaining, the Trojans had an opportunity to tie the game following a Chucky Hepburn miss, but the sophomore guard stole the ball from Drew Peterson and laid it in to make it a two-possession game, securing the win for Wisconsin.

On both sides, the offense deteriorated in the second half, as USC shot just 33% from the field, although they hit 50% of their threes, while Wisconsin hit 39.3% of their shots, while going 3/8 from distance.

The Badgers shut down Boogie Ellis in the second half, as USC’s leading scorer had just two points on 1/7 from the field.

While Drew Peterson converted 3/4 of his looks from distance, the forward struggled inside the arc, finishing at 3/11 in the second half.

For the Badgers, their offense essentially came from three players in the second half: Chucky Hepburn, Tyler Wahl, and Connor Essegian.

Wahl scored 10 points on 50% efficiency, playing in 19 of the 20 minutes, and providing Wisconsin offense when they most needed it.

Hepburn continued his offensive performance from the first half, scoring eight points, while playing 18 minutes.

Essegian, who wasn’t featured heavily in the first half, gave Wisconsin an offensive spark with three three-pointers, and played in 16 minutes, which was third of all Badgers’ in the second half.

Those three players led the way for the Badgers overall, although Jordan Davis and Steven Crowl each had a +- of 12, which was a game-high.

Boogie Ellis, who came into the game averaging 18 points on good efficiency, was held to 15 points on 16 shots, while Drew Peterson shot just 1/9 from inside the arc.

The Badgers now return to the Kohl Center, where they’ll face off against Wake Forest on Tuesday as they look to continue with an impressive start to the season.