Wisconsin 73, Minnesota 63 (OT): Last word

MADISON — For a second straight game, Wisconsin used a late comeback to get a win at home, this time taking down Minnesota 73-63 in overtime on Monday night at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Brevin Pritzl

Former Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes said last year that Brevin Pritzl was the best shooter in the country. While that hasn’t always seemed like the case this year, it certainly felt that way on Monday night, especially late for the Badgers.

The sophomore drilled 6 of 9 from beyond the arc, scoring a career-high 20 points in the victory. Four of those came in the final 6:17 of regulation and in overtime.

Over his last four games, Pritzl is shooting 57.1-percent from deep.

“The shooting has been a byproduct of him being really engaged in the game in other areas,” coach Greg Gard said of Pritzl, who had three rebounds, an assist and a block in 37 minutes. “Obviously, I’m happy for him, but I’m more pleased and more satisfied as a coach to see those other things come to fruition.

“I’ve always known he’s a good shooter. I’ve watched him every day all the way back to high school when I recruited him. The kid can shoot the ball. But that’s not the only part of a players’ game. He’s been growing in those other areas, and now he’s becoming a more reliable, dependable, consistent player.”

The good: The comeback

Wisconsin trailed 58-51 with 5:58 left in the game following a 3-pointer from Jordan Murphy. The defense hadn’t been atrocious, but it also wasn’t the same stingy unit that showed up against Purdue last Thursday. That all changed in an instant. The Gophers would score just one field goal the rest of the way as the Badgers outscored them 22-5 to end the game.

“Coach challenged us,” freshman Brad Davison said. “He just told us to draw the line…We had to come together. We had to get stops down the line. That’s what gave us the opportunity to get back into the game.”

The not so good: Tough shooting night for Aleem Ford

Redshirt freshman Aleem Ford has been Wisconsin’s best 3-point shooter this year, hitting 44.8 percent coming into Monday’s game. But he had a tough night, going just 1 of 8 from deep. It comes after he hit just 1 of 7 against Purdue last Thursday.

Still, Ford made a positive impact on both ends against Minnesota. He had four rebounds, three assists, one steal and it was his tip-out of a missed free throw that gave Wisconsin a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Stat of the game: 1

That’s how many field goals Ethan Happ had prior to his game-tying basket in the final seconds of regulation. Wisconsin’s leading scorer — and coming off three straight games of at least 20 points — Happ faced double teams all night. But on the final play of regulation, and with Minnesota trying to foul him, Happ managed to get free on a spin move and got his jump hook to go down.

“He wanted it, so we called the one that goes to him,” Gard said of Happ. “Right in the huddle, he wanted the ball. So, you go with the guy that has done it a lot for us.”

Happ finished with 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and a couple of huge blocks.

What they said:

“Yeah, I think he definitely got tripped. I have to take a look at it again to make sure I’m right, but I think he pretty much got tripped. It was a hard play. End of game play. You don’t see very many calls there.”

Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy on Nate Mason’s drive and missed shot at the end of regulation, per the Star-Tribune.

In Case You Missed It:

— 5-star recruit Jalen Johnson attended the game. The Sun Prairie, Wis., product is Wisconsin’s top priority in the 2020 class. His teammate, Marlon Ruffin, also was at the game. He is a potential walk-on candidate for the Badgers in the 2018 class.

— Davison kept Wisconsin in the game early, knocking down 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the first half. He added a fifth in the second half, tying his career-high for a single game.

Khalil Iverson had seven points, but really did his best work on the glass and on defense. Days after grabbing a career-high 10 boards against Purdue, the junior grabbed 12 against the Gophers, including four on the offensive end. He also pestered Nate Mason much of the night, with the Gophers’ second-leading scorer ending up with 11 points on 5 of 18 shooting.

— With the win, Wisconsin guaranteed itself a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament next week in New York City. The Badgers first game will come on Thursday, with the exact time still to be decided.

— A nod to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal for this stat: The win means the Badgers will finish ahead of Minnesota in the Big Ten for a 20th straight season.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (13-16, 6-10) travels to Northwestern (15-14, 6-10) on Thursday night.

Wisconsin falls to Maryland 68-63

Just when things looked like they may start to get better for Wisconsin, they got worse. The Badgers tied the game at 60 on an Aleem Ford 3-pointer with 2:38 remaining, but were then outscored 8-3 over the rest of regulation.

Wisconsin (10-15, 3-9) had an opportunity to tie the game on its last possession, but guard Brad Davison made an ill-advised drive to the rim as opposed to attempting a 3-pointer to try and tie the game. On the possession prior, Davison hit a 3-pointer that brought Wisconsin within one-point at 64-63. Maryland’s Anthony Cowan knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead to 66-63 before Wisconsin’s last chance.

After Davison’s inexplicable final possession, Cowan knocked down another pair of free throws to ice the game and give him a game-high 23 points on the afternoon.

Four of the five starters for Wisconsin reached double-figures in scoring, with Khalil Iverson, who scored eight points, being the exception. The Badgers did not get a single point off the bench in the loss. Forward Ethan Happ was the leading scorer for Wisconsin. He had 18 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in the loss.

Wisconsin has now dropped five games in a row, dating back to January 19. They’re 1-10 away from the Kohl Center this season. They have two road games remaining on the schedule, including their next game at Illinois on Thursday night.

Wisconsin 81, Western Kentucky 80: Last shots

MADISON – Wisconsin got back in the win column with an 81-80 victory over Western Kentucky University on Wednesday night at the Kohl Center in controversial fashion.

Twenty last shots for the 20 3-pointers attempted by Wisconsin on Wednesday night against Western Kentucky

1. Wisconsin (5-7) has struggled to close out games this season. They’ve been close in contests against Xavier, Baylor, UCLA, and Temple but haven’t found a way to win those games. In the victory over Penn State there was more a feeling that the Nittany Lions simply ran out of time rather than Wisconsin put them to bed.

2. It’s tough to say that the Badgers put the Hilltoppers away in this one, but a win counts all the same.

3. The Hilltoppers tied the game at 80-80 on a floater from Darius Thompson with 2.0 seconds remaining on the clock. Thompson took the ball and went the length of the floor before advancing into the lane and getting the ball over the out stretched arms of Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson.

4. Following that basket, the officials went to the monitor to check what the clock should read. On the floor, it stopped at 0.9 seconds remaining, but upon review 1.1 seconds were added. Once that was settled, Wisconsin called a timeout to set up an inbounds play. The Badgers needed to go the length of the floor in order to attempt to win the game in regulation.

5. The play called wasn’t one that’s commonly seen. Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzl took the ball out of bounds with the ability to run the baseline due to Thompson’s made basket on the other side of the timeout. Guard Brad Davison’s job on the play was to set a screen on the man guarding Pritzl, or so it seemed.

6. “My job was to let him run me over,” Davison said. “Then it would be a foul on him. Really good play call by coach and it worked perfectly. We’ll take it.”

7. “I just did my job and ran back-to-back [along the baseline] and made sure that he got hit,” said Pritzl of the inbounds play.

8. Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury wasn’t pleased with how the end of the game played out, to say the least. His postgame press conference was easily the most entertaining of the season in any game involving the Badgers.

9. “Everybody will talk about that last play but there’s plenty of plays that could have happened before that. That last play gets magnified,” said Stansbury following the game. “I think if you check the film, the guy setting the screen is out-of-bounds. His foot’s out of bounds. That automatically makes him an illegal screener. But again, that play will get magnified. That play didn’t beat us.”

10. Stansbury’s team showed resiliency throughout the night. The Hilltoppers currently have only seven scholarship players available, and eight players were dressed on Wednesday night.

11. “I’m going to say this as nice as I can, again. I’m not going to put the blame on one play. But, as it turns out, it was an important play, it was an obvious play. If he’s out-of-bounds he’s an illegal screener, and he’s out-of-bounds. That’s just where that is. If it’s one of those plays, we’re supposed to go to the monitor last two minutes to look at things. To me, that’s an important thing to go to the monitor for. [The referees] said he couldn’t go. What else is more important for to go to the monitor for late in the game?”

12. Upon further review, at least on Twitter, it did not seem as if Stansbury had a gripe, although it was a very close play.

twitter.com/TJhoeft14

13. The controversial ending will certainly overshadow some parts of the game. Wisconsin had multiple opportunities to thwart the comeback hopes of WKU. They held double-digit leads in both halves only to see the Hilltoppers come all the way back to either tie or take the lead. In the first half, Wisconsin was up 29-20 with 6:24 left. The Hilltoppers closed out the half on an 18-5 run to take a 38-34 lead into the locker room.

14. In the second half, the Badgers held a 65-54 lead with 9:08 remaining following a made free throw by forward Ethan Happ. Over the next 4:20 WKU went on a 17-6 run to tie the game 71-71 with 4:48 remaining. Wisconsin had the opportunity to make the end of the game rather uneventful, but lacked the killer instinct needed to do so. That’s something common among young teams, which Wisconsin certainly qualifies as.

15 .The Badgers had their best game of the season on the offensive end to date. They shot the ball incredibly well from the outside, knocking down 12-of-20 3-pointers on the evening. Pritzl and forward Aleem Ford combined to go 8-of-10 from behind the arc. Davison and guard T.J. Schlundt each hit two 3-pointers as well. When looking at the box score, this area jumps out as the clear reason as to why Wisconsin was able to come away victorious against WKU.

16. By shooting 60% from behind the arc Wisconsin was well above their season average in that area. They have been rather pedestrian from 3-point range throughout the season, entering the night shooting 33% as a team. Some say 3-point shooting is contagious and it definitely seemed that was for Wisconsin.

17. It’s very rare for a team to perform better from deep than at the free throw line, but that’s exactly what Wisconsin did. The Badgers finished the night 13-of-23 on free throws, which computes to 56.5%.

18. Happ was part of the reason the free throw percentage is that low. He finished the night 3-of-8 shooting at the free throw line. Happ finished with 17 points, four rebounds, and six assists for Wisconsin. He was 7-of-12 shooting from the floor.

19. Happ and Pritzl were the leading scorers for Wisconsin, they each had 17 points on the night. Davison chipped in 16 and Ford finished with 14 to push Wisconsin to four players in double-digits.

20. The Badgers are out of game action until December 23 when UW-Green Bay comes to Madison, Wis.