The Badgers are still alive!
The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 71-67 on Sunday night at the Barn in a back-and-forth contest.
Behind massive games from their big men, the Badgers put away their rivals and kept their season alive.
The Badgers started hot offensively, scoring 9 points in the first 4 minutes. The team looked to attack inside the paint early on, finding both Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl inside for easier shots.
12 of their first 15 points came from inside the paint.
However, after starting 7/12 from the field, the Badgers went cold and struggled to score.
The team then went on to shoot 1-13 from the field and Minnesota went on a 10-1 scoring run over a 5-minute span.
Klesmit ended the dry run with a huge three-point shot with 4:30 remaining to bring the Badgers back within 1 at 22-21.
Both the Badgers and the Gophers went back and forth for the remainder of the half until a big three-point shot by Jamison Battle gave the Gophers a 36-29 halftime lead.
Minnesota shot an incredible 60% from the field in the first half as they played a much more inspiring half of basketball. If the Badgers were looking to make a positive statement, the first half was quite the opposite.
In the second half, the Badgers scored 42 points behind an impressive 12 second-half points from Chucky Hepburn.
When the team needed him most, Hepburn hit a huge go-ahead three with under a minute remaining to give the Badgers a 65-62 lead.
From there, the Badgers held on by knocking down free throws and being smart defensively. Coach Greg Gard ensured the team wasn’t going to make the same mistakes again in the final seconds.
When up three, Gard had the team foul rather than try to make a defensive stop, and it worked out as they went on to win 71-67.
Both Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl finished with identical stat lines of 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Chucky Hepburn and Connor Essegian piled on 12 points and 11 points respectively.
And the Badgers did not record a single point off the bench in the win.
The team has typically been a three-point shooting team, looking to take advantage from outside the arc. However, tonight the Badgers only shot 12 threes and focused on mainly attacking the rim and scoring from inside the paint.
It was a different style of play than fans are used to seeing, yet it worked quite well in this scenario.
With a strong second half, Wisconsin picked up another win and is now done with the regular season. They finished the campaign with a 17-13 record and a 9-11 record in the Big Ten.
Following tonight’s win, the Badgers can now look ahead to the Big Ten Tournament where they will play the Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday night in Chicago.
The Badgers entered the weekend sitting in a position with a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. But without playing a game, they dropped to 12th and were locked into the seed regardless of tonight’s result.
Previously voted as the 9th best team in the conference in the preseason, one could say this team was more than underwhelming. Finishing 12th in the league was probably one of the last things fans expected out of this season.
Now that the regular season is behind us, the team needs to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament to maintain hope of being selected for the NCAA Tournament.