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.