Wednesday is decision day for Ethan Happ

Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ must have his formal decision on whether or not he will remain in the 2018 NBA Draft or return to school for his final year of eligibility.

Happ declared for the draft earlier this offseason however he did not hire an agent, making him eligible to return to school for his final year of eligibility. He was not invited to the 2018 NBA Combine, however he has had workouts with the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Lakers.

Happ has gone on record as saying that if he was not projected in the first round or early in the second round then he would return to school. He told the Detroit Free Press earlier this week that right now he is projected as a late-second round pick.

In the 2017-18 season Happ averaged 17.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while being named second-team All-Big Ten.

(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.