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Wisconsin men’s basketball: UW wins at RAC, will enter final week of season alone in first place

The Badgers, in another close game natch, beat Rutgers 66-61 on Saturday night.

Wisconsin v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

No ranked Big Ten teams win at The RAC. That was the rumor leading into Saturday night’s game between the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Sometimes, rumors are just that, though.

The Badgers (23-5 overall, 14-4 Big Ten) beat the Scarlet Knights (16-12 overall, 10-8 Big Ten) by five points, 66-61, and will enter the final week of the regular season in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

The game started off with some classic Big Ten football-esque action. Rutgers didn’t score in the first 3:39 of the game and the Badgers only had five points. An early Tyler Wahl three pointer got the scoring started, which is usually an ominous sign, but the Badgers ended up shooting 41.7% from deep (5-of-12) while ending the first half with a 33-24 lead. In fact, UW never trailed in the first half!

Brad Davison was the leading scorer in the first half with 11 points (4-of-8 shooting, 3-of-5 from three) and freshman point guard Chucky Hepburn was assertive on offense, hunting for his shot all half, and dropping 10 points.

Wahl played tough defense on Ron Harper, Jr., holding the star to seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc, in the first half. In fact, the entire Scarlet Knights team shot poorly in the first half, making no three pointers on six attempts and only making 9-of-24 (37.5%) from the field.

Rutgers point guard Paul Mulcahy leads the Big Ten in assists but didn’t record a single one in the first half and turned the ball over five times. He had five points and four rebounds, so he found some other ways to contribute, but his turnovers were costly and prevented Rutgers’ offense from getting into a flow.

Because nothing is ever easy for these Badgers, Rutgers went on an early 8-0 run in the second half to cut the lead down to three points with 15 minutes left in the game. After that, it was a lot of back and forth between the two teams before Geo Baker made a jumper with 7:28 left to give RU their first lead of the game 51-50.

The end of the game was tense but Davis made four free throws in the final 37 seconds, with a Wahl free throw mixed in, to ice the game. After a slow start to the game, Davis erupted for 15 points in the second half. While he wasn’t necessarily efficient (4-of-10 from the field), he got to the free throw line with regularity and rebounded the ball well.

Notable stat lines:

  • Johnny Davis —> 19 points (6-of-19 from the floor), eight rebounds, one assist
  • Brad Davison —> 14 points (5-of-11 from the floor), four rebounds, two assists, two steals
  • Chucky Hepburn —> 13 points (5-of-11 from the floor), five assists, two steals
  • Geo Baker (Rutgers) —> 19 points (9-of-19 from the floor), four assists, one steal

Up next: The first place Badgers return home for a massive showdown with second place Purdue on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. A win there and they’ll clinch the Big Ten title. Be there, be loud, win a trophy.