(2) Michigan State 68, Wisconsin 63: Last word

MADISON — Brad Davison scored a career-high 30 points, but it wasn’t enough as Wisconsin fell to No. 2 Michigan State 68-63 on Sunday at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Cassius Winston

The point guard was on fire against Wisconsin. He took six 3-pointers and hit all of them, including a couple in crunch time. His 3-pointer with 7:08 left gave the Spartans the lead back at 50-49, and less than three minutes later, he drilled another to push Michigan State’s lead to 58-51. The sophomore added six rebounds and five assists as the Spartans claimed the win and the outright Big Ten title.

The good: Brad Davison

What more can you say about the Wisconsin freshman? Despite his shoulder popping out of place for a fifth time this season — and having it put back in — Davison scored a career-high 30 points, including 23 in the second half. During one stretch, the Minnesota native scored 11 straight points for the Badgers as they made their comeback.

Davison became the first freshman at Wisconsin to have a 30-point game since Sam Okey in 1996, and he’s scored at least 14 points in four of the Badgers last six games — a stretch that has seen them play their best basketball of the year in compiling a 4-2 record.

“His mentality, his approach and his competitiveness has become infectious,” coach Greg Gard said. “I think that’s part of the reason we’ve surged here is because [his] presence is starting to infiltrate other areas [of the team].”

The not so good: Rebounding

Michigan State out rebounded Wisconsin 40-28, but it felt like the gap was even bigger than that. The Spartans got 13 offensive rebounds and managed to turn that into 15 points. The Badgers had some success (12 offensive rebounds, 17 second-chance points), but the size of Michigan State clearly bothered them.

Stat of the game: 9 of 24

That was what Wisconsin shot on layups on Saturday. That included Ethan Happ making just 5 of his 15 shots in the paint, in what was largely a tough afternoon for the junior.

What they said:

“I just told them we’d rather beat them next week anyways. We control our own destiny. It’s not college football. It’s college basketball where the regular season is kind of washed away. We control our own destiny.

“Like I said, this thing is far from over.”

Davison on what his message to the locker room was after game. The Badgers would face Michigan State again if they can beat Maryland on Thursday in the Big Ten tournament.

In Case You Missed It:

— Sunday was Senior Day, with fifth-year senior Aaron Moesch and fourth-year juniors Matt Ferris and T.J. Schlundt being honored.

— After playing a total of nine minutes in the last eight games combined, junior Charles Thomas played 11 against the Spartans, scoring six points and grabbing a pair of rebounds.

— For the first time since Dec. 2, Khalil Iverson was held scoreless. The junior, as usual, was solid defensively, playing a big role in Wisconsin slowing sophomore Miles Bridges for much of the game.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (14-17, 7-11) travels to New York City to take on Maryland (19-12, 8-10) in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.

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.

Last shots: Wisconsin 57, (6) Purdue 53

MADISON – Sixteen last shots for the 16 points scored by Brad Davison in Wisconsin’s 57-53 win over Purdue on Thursday night.

1. In a season where so much has gone wrong for Wisconsin, Badgers fans finally have a night to remember. The team had not won a game inside the Kohl Center in nearly a month while experiencing the worst season in two decades. While the game itself may not have much meaning in the long run, it’s a night fans will be able to look back upon and smile.

2. The night not only belonged to the fans, many of whom found themselves on the hardwood following the game, but also Frank Kaminsky’s. His No. 44 was raised to the rafters of the Kohl Center during a halftime ceremony. The 2015 consensus player of the year was honored throughout the night with various videos, a pregame ceremony and one at halftime as well.

3. Only a few players on the 2017-18 version of the Badgers were rostered while Kaminsky was dominating for Wisconsin. The player still around that he had the most impact on was unquestionably forward Ethan Happ.

4. “To put it nicely, go kick some butt,” Happ said that Kaminsky told him while the two shared a moment prior to the game against Purdue.

5. While Kaminsky obviously couldn’t suit up for the Badgers on Thursday night, it’s easy to believe that his presence brought a little more energy to the building. The crowd at the Kohl Center hasn’t had much to cheer about for the past couple months. Kaminsky’s night assured them that they would have something positive to cheer for, that may have spilled over and energized the team more so than at many times this season.

6. The game itself wasn’t the most beautiful display of basketball, to put it lightly. Neither team played well on the offensive end as this game resembled an old-school, defensive Big Ten struggle. Neither team shot the ball particularly well, both finishing below the 40% mark overall, and combining to shoot 8-of-38 from 3-point range.

7. Much has been made recently of Wisconsin starting off games slowly on both ends. They trailed Purdue 12-0 in the first matchup between the teams last month. They’ve fallen behind early in many of their games as of late. Thursday night they didn’t get off to a great start, but it wasn’t quite as bad as it had been.

8. Wisconsin was trailing Purdue 9-2 with 14 minutes left in the first half. The seven-point lead was the largest of the night for Purdue. The Badgers then went on a quick 5-0 run thanks to a layup from T.J. Schlundt and a 3-pointer by guard Brad Davison.

9. The second half seemed like a scoring outburst after the two teams went to the locker room locked at 21 at halftime. Purdue and Wisconsin combined to shoot 18-of-55 from the floor in the first half, neither team reached the free throw line, and the teams combined for 12 turnovers.

10. Wisconsin has been playing much better in the second half of games as of late. There was a time on Thursday when it looked like that had changed. After the Badgers held a 32-29 lead following a jumper by Davison with 12:32 left in regulation, Purdue went on a 10-0 run to take a 39-32 lead.

11. The way the season has gone for Wisconsin, especially with a top 10 team in the country inside the Kohl Center, it would not have surprised many to see the game get away from them. Instead, the Badgers responded with a 15-4 run to take a 47-43 lead with 3:38 left.

12. Once they took the lead on a pair of free throws from Davison they never looked back.

13. Wisconsin was able to knock down enough free throws down the stretch to hold the Boilermakers off. This was despite Happ fouling out when he fouled Purdue’s Carsen Edwards on a 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining. After he knocked down 2-of-3, Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzl was able to step to the line on back-to-back possessions and hit 3-of-4 foul shots to secure the win.

14. Isaac Haas for Purdue did beat the buzzer with a tip-in to create the 57-53 final in favor of Wisconsin, and seconds later fans were partying with the team on the oversized Motion W at center court. After the season endured by the Badgers it was a refreshing moment for the program, even if court-storming isn’t something Wisconsin is used to.

15. “Personally, it was nuts. I was sweating from the game, I was already yelling,” Happ said of the fans storming the court. “Once I was surrounded by all the fans I started to overheat a little bit. I had [Zak Showalter] jump into my arms, I wasn’t expecting that. I thought we were just going to embrace each other but he jumped into my arms and I grabbed him. Just like old times, I guess.”

16. The Badgers will be back in action at the Kohl Center on Monday night against Minnesota.

(20) Michigan 83, Wisconsin 72: Last word

MADISON — Michigan jumped all over Wisconsin early and kept the Badgers at bay the rest of the game in an 83-72 victory Sunday at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Duncan Robinson

The senior was a big part of Michigan’s quick start, as he scored 14 points in the first half. He was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc as the Wolverines built a 22-point halftime lead. Robinson had just two points after the break but his early efforts made the mountain too big for the Badgers to climb.

The good: The comeback

Wisconsin trailed by as many as 25 points in the second half, but a 12-0 run midway through the period made things much more interesting. The Badgers got the lead all the way down to eight with 2:15 left and were a defensive rebound off a missed free throw from having a chance to whittle the lead down further. That didn’t happen, but seeing fight from a team that is having its worst season in nearly 20 years is encouraging.

The not so good: The start

For the second straight home game, Wisconsin could do nothing right at the outset. Against Northwestern on Feb. 1, the Badgers fell behind 18-1. On Sunday, they fell behind 15-2. With as shorthanded and inexperienced as Wisconsin is, it can’t afford to fall into big holes like that and hope to pull the upset. The lulls in play have been a season-long issue that the Badgers haven’t found a way to avoid.

Stat of the game: 29

That’s how many points Ethan Happ had on Sunday. It’s a season-high and the most he’s scored in a non-overtime game in his career. Because of the big lead, Michigan didn’t double the junior nearly as much as some teams have this year and he took advantage of it.

What they said:

“First off, we gave up too many threes. When they start off seven for nine (from beyond the arc), that opens a lot of other stuff for them. Once we have to go out and defend them deeper at the 3-point line, then that gives up more stuff at the rim, and then drive and kick. We just have to do a better job to start.”

— Happ on the defensive struggles early in the game

In Case You Missed It:

— Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy sat behind the Wisconsin bench. He received a pretty good ovation when he was shown on the video board.

— It was alumni weekend and many former players were honored at halftime, including recent stars such as Josh Gasser, Ben Brust and Zak Showalter. All-time leading scorer Alando Tucker and All-Big Ten center Rashard Griffith were also recognized.

— Wisconsin celebrated the 10-year anniversary of winning the 2008 Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. Players from that team, including Keaton Nankivil, Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma, were introduced during halftime.

— Junior Andy Van Vliet played just two minutes, but managed to hit a 3-pointer — his first points since Dec. 23.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (11-16, 4-10) hosts Purdue (23-4, 12-2) on Thursday night. The Boilermakers have lost two straight after starting out the Big Ten season 12-0.

Badgers snap losing skid against Illinois

The Wisconsin Badgers entered Illinois with a five-game losing streak and losers of its last seven road games. They ended both of those streaks with a 78-69 win on Thursday night over the Illini. Not only did the win end those streaks, it simultaneously extended Wisconsin’s winning streak over Illinois on the hardwood to 13 games. The last Illinois win over Wisconsin came on January 2, 2011.

Ethan Happ was dominant when his team needed him to be. He finished with 27 points, six rebounds, and eight assists in the win. Brevin Pritzl snapped out of his funk, after finishing a combined 0-for-10 from behind the 3-point line in the previous two losses. He was 3-for-3 shooting from behind the arc and had 15 points off the bench for Wisconsin.

Trent Frazier was outstanding in the loss for Illinois. He finished with a career-high 32 points to lead the way for the Illini.

Wisconsin’s win puts them at 10th place in the Big Ten heading into the weekend. The teams that finish in the top 10 receive a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament that starts later this month. The Badgers have not played in the first round of the conference tournament since 2000.

The Badger return to the hardwood on Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center against No. 20 Michigan. Tip-off is at noon.

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 loses to Michigan State 76-61

Michigan State defeated Wisconsin 76-61 in East Lansing, Mich., Friday night. This marks the fifth loss in the last six games for the Badgers.

Wisconsin has been unable to generate any momentum away from the Kohl Center this season, as they’re now 1-9 in road and neutral site contests.

Forward Ethan Happ was the leading scorer for Wisconsin, he had 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on the night. He was one of only two Badgers to reach double-figures in scoring. Brevin Pritzl was the other, he had 13 points.

Michigan State was led by sophomore Miles Bridges with 24 points. Four of Michigan State’s five starters reached double-figures in scoring, which helped erase the fact that the Spartans only had four bench points on the evening.

Despite only scoring four points off the bench, Michigan State won that statistical battle. The Badgers finished with only three points scored by Alex Illikainen for the reserve unit.

The loss drops Wisconsin to 10-12 on the season and 3-6 inside of Big Ten play. The Badgers return to action Monday night at the Kohl Center against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers took the previous meeting this year 63-59 in Lincoln. Wisconsin has played much better at home, with a record of 9-3 at the Kohl Center.

Badgers fall to Iowa 85-67

The Wisconsin Badgers fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes 85-67 on Tuesday night in Iowa City. The Badgers started out slowly, similar to their loss against Purdue the week prior.

Iowa led 9-0 nearly four minutes into the game. When they lost to Purdue last week they trailed 12-0 to start the game.

Wisconsin was able to fight back and cut Iowa’s lead to four points with just over two minutes left in the first half, but then Iowa finished the half on a 6-1 run to go into the locker room with a 37-28 lead.

In the second half it was more of the same, the Hawkeyes opened up a lead as large as 22 points down the stretch. Iowa got a strong effort from freshman Luka Garza, he had 17 points and 16 rebounds in the win for Iowa. Tyler Cook also had 17 points for Iowa as five Hawkeyes reached double-figures in total.

Forward Ethan Happ had the best day for Wisconsin, he finished the night with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Wisconsin had three players score in double-figures, as Khalil Iverson had 17 points and Charles Thomas scored 10 points in 17 minutes off of the bench.

The Badgers return to action on Friday night in East Lansing, Mi., where they’ll take on the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans. Tip-off is at 7pm.

Last shots: Wisconsin 75, Illinois 50

MADISON – The Wisconsin Badgers snapped their losing streak at three games on Friday night with a 75-50 victory over Illinois at the Kohl Center.

Thirteen last shots for Khalil Iverson’s 13 points against the Fighting Illini on Friday night.

1. The game started off extremely sloppy for everyone involved. The first possession for each team resulted in a turnover, the first made field goal of the game wasn’t until Illinois’ Leron Black knocked down a jumper at the 17:27 mark. The first half also saw multiple needs to adjust the clock and even an incidental buzzer causing a pause in play.

2. After the slow, sloppy start, the Badgers were able to put their foot on the gas pedal offensively mostly thanks to guard Brevin Pritzl. He finished the game with 16 points in 37 minutes on the court. Pritzl scored 13 of his points in the first half. He was in a great rhythm early on, knocking down both 3-pointers he attempted in the first half. He finished the first half 5-of-8 shooting while playing all 20 minutes.

3. In the second half Pritzl wasn’t in the same rhythm. He was just 1-of-7 from the floor, with the lone make a banked in 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 14:14 left in regulation to put Wisconsin up 56-38. That was their largest lead of the night at that point.

4. Despite Pritzl and forward Ethan Happ both scoring 16 points, neither one actually led Wisconsin in the scoring column. Guard Brad Davison had a relatively quiet 18 points on the night. The quietness of his scoring can be attributed to the fact that he finished the night with only six field goal attempts. He did the majority of his scoring from the free throw line, where he knocked down all 10 of his attempts.

5. The 18 points for Davison was a Big Ten season-high. He’s the Big Ten freshman leader in scoring currently, averaging 12.1 points per game. Davison also became the first player for Wisconsin to be perfect from the free throw line with at least 10 attempts since Nigel Hayes did so in 2016, per UW.

6. Speaking of Happ, he finished the night with his eighth double-double of the season. He had 10 rebounds and five assists in addition to his 16 points. This is the fifth double-double in the last seven games for Happ.

7. Happ once again did a terrific job passing out of double-team situations, as he has all season long. That’s one of the more dangerous parts of his game offensively, especially considering his outside game isn’t operational at a very high level at the moment.

8. The fourth and final player to reach double-figures in scoring was forward Khalil Iverson. He finished the night with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Iverson has been inconsistent on that end of the floor throughout the season. He’s had nights where the Badgers have relied on his scoring to get by and he’s had nights where he hasn’t attempted a single shot. Wisconsin doesn’t know what they’re going to get out of him on a regular basis offensively.

9. Iverson is a solid defender and definitely more consistent on that end of the floor. He’s only had five games this season where he has failed to record either a block of a steal. The Badgers are 2-3 in those games, including losses by 25 and 28 points to Ohio State and Purdue, respectively. The two victories came against South Carolina State and UW-Milwaukee with the third loss being against Baylor. Iverson matched a career high with three blocks against Illinois. He also had a pair of steals.

10. While Iverson blocked three shots, he was outshined in that area by freshman forward Nate Reuvers who finished with five blocks on the night. Reuvers leads Wisconsin with 21 blocks on the season despite sitting out the first five games of the season due to an uncertainty over redshirting.

11. As a team Wisconsin tallied 10 blocks. That mark is their highest in a single game since they denied the Indiana Hoosiers 10 times on March 16, 2013.

12. The Badgers have now knocked off Illinois in 12 straight matchups. The last win for Illinois over Wisconsin came on January 2, 2011 when the then 23rd ranked Fighting Illini defeated the Badgers 69-61 at Assembly Hall.

13. Wisconsin will be back in action Tuesday night on the road against Iowa. Tip-off is set for 6PM CST.

Badgers fall to Purdue 78-50

The Wisconsin Badgers suffered their worst defeat of the 2017-18 season on Tuesday night 78-50 at the hands of the Purdue Boilermakers.

Purdue (18-2, 7-0 Big Ten) started out the game strong, scoring the first 12 points of the evening by connecting on 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions. The Badgers ultimately trailed 18-2 before they made their first field goal of the game, an Ethan Happ layup with 12:27 remaining in the first half.

Happ was the only Badger to reach double-figures in scoring. He finished with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Freshman Nate Reuvers was the second-highest scorer, he finished with eight points.

Purdue’s lead grew to as large as 21 points after guard Carsen Edwards made a layup with 3:50 left in the half. Edwards was the leading scorer for the Boilermakers with 21 points. Purdue had four players score double-figures including Vincent Edwards with 20 points.

Turnovers plagued Wisconsin (9-10, 2-4) on Tuesday night. They finished the first half with 15, which tied a season-high, and had 20 in total for the game.

The 28-point loss by Wisconsin was the largest margin of defeat for the Badgers since March 6, 2011 when they fell to Ohio State 93-65.

The Badgers will return to action on Friday night against the University of Illinois at the Kohl Center. Tip off is at 8PM.