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