MADISON — No. 22 Wisconsin managed just 14 points in the first half on its way to a 59-52 setback against Minnesota on Thursday night at the Kohl Center.
Player of the Game: Dupree McBrayer
Wisconsin trailed 51-47 with less than two minutes left when McBrayer turned in the two biggest plays of the game. First, he stripped guard D’Mitrik Trice of the ball and turned that into a layup. On the next possession, he was credited with another steal that he turned into a dunk. It was a massive swing and it ended up being the game-winning plays for Minnesota. The guard finished with 14 points and four rebounds, while committing just one turnover.
The good: Defense
After getting torched for 53 points in the second half by Western Kentucky, the Badgers held Minnesota 20 points below its season average for scoring. There were still some breakdowns, but coach Greg Gard said the defense kept them in the game.
The not so good: First-half offense
Wisconsin was absolutely putrid in the first half. The Badgers scored just 14 points, shooting 23.1-percent from the field and 14.3-percent from beyond the arc. It was easily their worst offensive performance of the season and one of the worst Gard could remember.
“That was as anemic as [it gets],” Gard said. “I’ll have to look back through the records. I think we were .45 (points per possession) in the first half. That’s digging a deep hole.”
Stat of the game: 9:03
That was the length of Wisconsin’s scoring drought in the first half. The Badgers took a 6-2 lead with 16:51 left and didn’t score again until Brevin Pritzl hit a 3-pointer with 7:48 left.
What they said:
“As I told the guys, ‘I can’t yell you into making shots,’” Gard said of the message relayed to his team. “I can get excited about a lot of other things but that’s one thing that you can’t play in an enraged state or amped up state. You’ve got to relax and knock shots down. We’ve seen nights where we have. Obviously this is one that we didn’t.”
In Case You Missed It:
— Wisconsin shot under 50-percent for a fourth time this year. That’s already tied for the second-most in a single season by the Badgers since at least 1998.
— Trice was just 2 of 7 from beyond the arc. After a hot start that had him shooting better than 60-percent from 3-point range, the sophomore is just 4 of 17 the last three games.
Wisconsin (10-4, 2-1) travels to Penn State (7-7, 0-3) on Sunday.