Wisconsin comes up short in potential program-defining title game

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It was right there. Well, not right there. Try 43 yards away. That’s what Wisconsin needed trailing Ohio State 27-21 with 1:28 left in Saturday night’s Big Ten title game.

Forty-three yards from a conference championship.

Forty-three yards from a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Forty-three yards from being able to shut up every national expert that had trashed Wisconsin and its 12-0 record.

Forty-three yards from pushing the program from the quaint little story that everyone knows about but doesn’t necessarily respect to a program that knocked off a blue blood outfit on its way to playing on the biggest stage the college game has to offer.

Alas, Wisconsin was unable to cover that 43 yards. A holding penalty pushed the Badgers back 10 yards, which was followed by three Alex Hornibrook incompletions and a game-clinching interception by Ohio State safety Damon Webb.

Final score: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21.

“That’s what hurts the most. Being able to get this far and come up short,” Hornibrook said afterward. “Seeing them celebrating on the field afterwards. That could have been us. That definitely hurts.”

This was not the game Wisconsin, or anyone that’s watched the Badgers this year, was expecting. The defense, ranked No. 1 in the country coming in, gave up big plays in abundance, including 84- and 57-yard touchdown passes. Missed tackles and blown assignments allowed running back J.K. Dobbins to run for 174 yards, including a 77-yard scamper in the second quarter.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line struggled with the vaunted front seven of Ohio State. A running game that had dominated much of the year, managed a season-low 60 yards. Wisconsin threw screen after screen to try and slow the pass rush down, but it only kept them at bay so long and Hornibrook was sacked three times. When he did have enough time to throw, he hit on just 19 of his 40 passes and threw a pair of picks.

It certainly wasn’t all bad. Wisconsin forced three turnovers, including a pick-6 by outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett completed only 46.2 percent of his passes and averaged just 3.2 yards per rush.

Freshman Danny Davis continued to show the playmaking skills that have so many excited about his future, while the Badgers and senior Austin Ramesh (50 total yards) reintroduced America to the fullback.

And the fight they showed in coming back from a 21-7 deficit, not getting down when they came out on the wrong side of game-altering plays, and even getting a late stop to give the offense one more chance, were right in line with what the identity of the team has been. The cliché terms you use for teams like this — resilient, gritty, hard-nosed — all apply and fit well. And it’s why it hurts so much more when you come up short like they did.

“There’s no doubt,” coach Paul Chryst said when asked if stings a little bit more when you’re so close to something so special. “You got an opportunity to win the Big Ten Championship. And that’s significant. And we knew there were other things (playoff).”

Chryst wanted nothing to do with describing where his team or his program currently reside. A reporter asked what the state of Wisconsin football is right now and the third-year coach responded, “We’re 12-1.” Pushed further with what the state of the program overall is, Chryst answered, “Proud to be here.”

Both were predictable answers from a coach that — thankfully — isn’t the one-line machine that some of his predecessors were. But we didn’t need an answer from him. We know exactly what Wisconsin is after Saturday night. A very good program that missed out on what was a rare chance to make it into the playoff and show they belong among the top schools in the country. A missed opportunity where seemingly everything had come together to give them their best chance to compete for a national title. A veteran defense, exciting playmakers on offense, and yes, a favorable schedule. They’ve had chances like this before, but nothing where the payoff would be so big.

Let’s be clear — the loss does not make the season a failure. Going 12-1 and winning the Big Ten West is special and Wisconsin will have a chance to play in a New Year’s Six game once again. And it’s certainly possible the Badgers could be back in a similar position at some point, but that means nothing right now. This was a potential program-changing moment and they couldn’t capitalize.

Current, former Badgers respond to Tim Tebow slamming Wisconsin

Former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow came down hard on Wisconsin Friday morning, saying that even if the Badgers were to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, they don’t deserve to be in the College Football Playoff.

“I’m saying they are not one of the four best teams,” Tebow said on ESPN’s “First Take.” “If you’re telling me that it’s the four best teams, then it can’t be who’s most deserving or undefeated. It has to be the four best teams. And you and me both know if right here [in Atlanta], Alabama played Wisconsin, they would probably beat the brakes off of them.

“So when you say the four best teams, don’t say undefeated, don’t say deserving, don’t say strength of schedule, don’t say strength of record, because it’s not the four best. You look at film, and [Wisconsin is] not one of the four best teams.”

The strong comments from the former Florida Gators quarterback brought strong responses from current and former Badgers. Here’s a little sampling of what was being said on social media.

 

 

 

 

B1G Championship preview: (4) Wisconsin vs (8) Ohio State

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (12-0, 9-0) vs the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2, 8-1)

The time: 7 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis, Ind.

The TV coverage: FOX with Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt in the booth, and Jenny Taft on the sideline.

The last time: No. 2 Ohio State came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime 38-31 last October in Madison.

The series: Ohio State leads 58-18-5

The line: Ohio State -6

The Badgers injury report:

OUT

Game:

TE Luke Benzschawel (leg)
OLB Noah Burks (leg)

Season:

WR Quintez Cephus (leg)
S Patrick Johnson (arm)
RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)
TE Zander Neuville (leg)
RB Bradrick Shaw (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FOUR THINGS TO WATCH

1) Biggest game in school history

It may seem like hyperbole, but Saturday night’s game is the biggest in Wisconsin football history. A win against one of the blue bloods of the sport would give the Badgers their first Big Ten title since 2012, almost surely punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff and leave them just two victories short of the school’s first national championship. A loss wouldn’t make the season a failure, but it would be looked at as a missed opportunity to make a splash the rest of the country couldn’t ignore, one that would force the doubters to at least respect what the program has become. This is not the first time Wisconsin has been in position to make that statement but it’s certainly its best and something the Badgers can’t let fall by the wayside.

2) Containing J.T. Barrett

The big story this week has been the knee injury to Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, the one that knocked him out in the third quarter of last week’s game at Michigan. The senior reportedly had arthroscopic surgery on the knee on Sunday, but coach Urban Meyer is expecting him to play. If he does, then it becomes vital for the Wisconsin defense to keep him in the pocket. In last season’s game, Barrett was Ohio State’s leading rusher with 92 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. It’s not that he can’t beat you with his arm — he can — but if you’re Wisconsin, you want to force him to show it again.

3) No turnovers

Wisconsin is a bit of anomaly this season. You don’t normally see an unbeaten team like the Badgers turn the ball over as much as they do. They rank No. 97 in the country with 21 turnovers and there are only three FBS teams with a winning record that have more than that. It’s not an every player problem. In fact, it’s mainly a two player issue — quarterback Alex Hornibrook and running back Jonathan Taylor. The duo has accounted for 18 of the 21 turnovers this year. Wisconsin’s defense has been able to erase many of those mistakes, but you sure don’t want to put them in that position against the most explosive offense the Badgers have faced this year.

4) Redemption

When people hear the term redemption in regards to this game, most probably think of the 59-0 shellacking that Ohio State delivered to Wisconsin in the 2014 title game. But they would be wrong. Sure, that one hurt, but that game was over almost as soon as it started. No, the game the Badgers want (need?) redemption for is the 2016 title game when they blew a 28-7 lead to Penn State and lost 38-31. A defense that was so good all year, got exposed with big plays down the field and some brilliance from All-American running back Saquon Barkley. Nearly all of Wisconsin’s defenders from that game are still around and have told the media this week they believe they learned some valuable lessons as a result of that collapse. We could see if that’s true on Saturday night.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin is an underdog for the first time in 20 games. The last time the Badgers weren’t favored was the Buckeyes visit to Camp Randall Stadium last October.

Current or former walk-ons have combined for 862 yards of total offense, seven touchdowns, 117 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks and four interceptions this season for Wisconsin.

The Badgers are allowing just 236.9 yards per game, the lowest mark by a Wisconsin team since 1954.

Hype videos

A couple of the better hype videos to get you ready for the game:

ZONE PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 21
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 27, Ohio State 24
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 21
Danny Cunningham’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 21

NATIONAL PREDICTIONS

Wisconsin (14)

Eric Single, SI.com: Wisconsin
Molly Geary, SI.com: Wisconsin
Andy Staples, SI.com: Wisconsin
Joan Niesen, SI.com: Wisconsin
Paul Myerberg, USA Today: Wisconsin
George Schroeder, USA Today: Wisconsin
Erick Smith, USA Today: Wisconsin
Eddie Timanus, USA Today: Wisconsin
Dan Wolken, USA Today: Wisconsin
Corby Davidson, Sportsday: Wisconsin
Rich Cirminiello, College Football News: Wisconsin
Jeff Feyerer, College Football News: Wisconsin
Pete Fiutak, College Football News: Wisconsin
Mitch Light, Athlon Sports: Wisconsin

Ohio State (18)

Edward Aschoff, ESPN: Ohio State
Zac Al-Khateeb, Sporting News: Ohio State
Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports: Ohio State
Bruce Feldman, SI.com: Ohio State
Chris Johnson, SI.com: Ohio State
Scooby Axson, SI.com: Ohio State
Jace Evans, USA Today: Ohio State
Ben Baby, Sportsday: Ohio State
Scott Bells, Sportsday: Ohio State
Chuck Carlton, Sportsday: Ohio State
Adam Grosbard, Sportsday: Ohio State
Ric Renner, Sportsday: Ohio State
Newy Scruggs, Sportsday: Ohio State
Kevin Sherrington, Sportsday: Ohio State
Brett Vito, Sportsday: Ohio State
Ralph Russo, Associated Press: Ohio State
Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: Ohio State
Bryan Bischer, Athlon Sports: Ohio State

Current, former Badgers react to the win over Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — Wisconsin stayed unbeaten and pushed its winning streak against Minnesota to 14 on Saturday with a 31-0 victory at TCF Bank Stadium. It moved the Badgers to 12-0 on the year and likely a win in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State away from a berth in the College Football Playoff.

A number of current and former Badgers took to social media to celebrate the whipping Wisconsin put on Minnesota. Here’s a little bit of what they were saying:

(5) Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 0: 2-minute drill

MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since 1912, the Wisconsin Badgers finished a regular season undefeated.

The No. 5 Badgers got three touchdown passes from Alex Hornibrook and 149 yards rushing from Jonathan Taylor in a 31-0 win over Minnesota to move to 12-0 and extend their winning streak over their rivals to 14 games.

Play of the Game

All season Wisconsin has run the fullback dive in short yardage situations. On Saturday, faced with a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Badgers went against their tendency, calling for a play-action pass. It worked perfectly, as Hornibrook found tight end Troy Fumagalli for the first points of the day. Wisconsin didn’t look back on its way to a shutout victory.

Game Balls

Offense: Alex Hornibrook

In what was easily his best effort of the Big Ten season, the sophomore completed 15 of 19 passes for 151 yards and the three scores. A number of his throws, including a 5-yard touchdown to Danny Davis in the third quarter, were absolute darts, put in places that only his receivers had a chance. Perhaps most importantly, Hornibrook didn’t turn the ball over for the first time in eight games.

It was the type of effort that had several teammates talking about the team’s potential when he plays like that.

“When your offense is clicking and going, especially the way we play defense, there’s no stopping us, I feel like,” cornerback Derrick Tindal said.

Defense: Ryan Connelly

A Minnesota native that wasn’t recruited by the Gophers, Connelly was all over the place on Saturday. He finished with six tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.

Connelly often gets overlooked among Wisconsin’s inside linebackers, but he’s been fantastic in a staring role of late. He’s the team’s leading tackler, and like he did last year, has more than filled the injury void left by Jack Cichy and Chris Orr.

Special Teams: Rafael Gaglianone

Gaglianone moved to 12 of 14 on the year with his 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. He’s also remained perfect on extra points for the season after hitting all four on Saturday.

In their own words

Did you think 12-0 was a possibility:

TE Troy Fumagalli: “I did, but I didn’t think too much about it. I tried not to focus too much on that and not the season. With the experience we had coming back, with the players in the locker room, I thought this was possible.”

LB T.J. Edwards: “Oh, yeah. 100 percent. I know that if we come out and play our best game we can hang with anyone in the country.”

CB Derrick Tindal: “I been telling you that [since the start of the season]. I trusted my teammates, trusted by boys and feel like they are going to keep it going.”

Is Wisconsin a win away from making the College Football Playoff?

WR Kendric Pryor: “We have to focus on playing Ohio State next. After that, we can’t control [the way] the committee votes. We just go out there and just play ball. If they decide to put us in, they do. If they don’t, they don’t.”

When did you know the game was in the bag?

Tindal: “When the first quarter started. I felt confident before the game. I knew we were going to win.”

In Case You Missed It

— Tight end Zander Neuville left with a knee injury in the first quarter, while running back Bradrick Shaw left in the second quarter with a leg injury. Coach Paul Chryst didn’t have an update on either guy after the game.

— Fullback Austin Ramesh took a sweep for a 41-yard gain in the second quarter. It was the longest rush of his career.

— After being forced to miss four games with a leg injury earlier this year, running back Chris James got his first extended action and finished with 51 yards on seven carries.

— Saturday was the first time since 1922 that Wisconsin has shutout Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Inside the Numbers

13 — That’s the number of wins in a row Wisconsin has, the longest streak in the country

1 — That’s the number of Power 5 teams in the country that are unbeaten. Wisconsin is that one team.

1,806 — That’s the number of yards Jonathan Taylor has run for this year. It’s the third-most in FBS history for a freshman.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0) will head to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis next Saturday to take on Ohio State (10-2, 8-1).

Preview: (5) Wisconsin at Minnesota

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (11-0, 8-0) vs the Minnesota Gophers (5-6, 2-6)

The time: 2:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.

The TV coverage: ABC with Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore in the booth, and Quint Kessenich on the sideline.

The last time: Wisconsin scored 24 straight points in the second half to overcome a 10-point deficit and win 31-17 last November at Camp Randall Stadium.

The series: 59-59-8

The line: Wisconsin -17

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

S D’Cota Dixon (leg)
LB Chris Orr (leg)

OUT

Game:

TE Luke Benzschawel (leg)

Season:

WR Quintez Cephus (leg)
S Patrick Johnson (arm)
RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) Looking for perfection

Wisconsin is off to the best start in school history and with a win can have its first unbeaten conference season since 1912. Now sitting at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, the victory would also keep the Badgers in the race for one of four spots as they head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game against Ohio State next weekend. All of this coming knowing that a loss would make Minnesota’s season. No pressure.

2) For the ‘Axe’

Thirteen years. That’s how long it’s been since Minnesota players have touched Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the trophy that goes to the winning team in the oldest rivalry in college football. And Wisconsin has no intention of the streak — the longest for either team in the series — coming to an end on Saturday. They know what’s at stake for their season but also in the rivalry itself, as a win would give the Badgers the series lead for the first time ever.

3) Need a clean game

The only way Minnesota has a chance to beat Wisconsin is if the Badgers beat themselves with penalties and turnovers. The latter begins and ends with quarterback Alex Hornibrook. He’s thrown at least one interception in every conference game this year, including three against Iowa — the last trophy game Wisconsin played. Can the Badgers win even if he does turn it over? Sure. But they can be scary good when he’s on the mark and not forcing the issue.

4) The curious case of Demry Croft

Minnesota’s quarterback hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in more than a month, and the Gophers are just 1-3 with him as their starter during that period. But in the one game they did win — a 54-21 whipping of Nebraska — the sophomore put on a show. He threw for 105 yards and ran for another 183 yards and three touchdowns. It’s an outlier in an otherwise rough season, but Wisconsin can’t allow Croft to get loose. They need to force him to beat them from the pocket, something he has largely proven he can’t do.

5) P.J. Fleck vs Paul Chryst

The men that lead these two programs could not be more different. Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck is a never ending string of words and actions designed to get your attention and keep it. He’s a cliche machine with his “Row the Boat” mantra and a ball of energy that is constantly rolling. On the other sideline is Paul Chryst — almost the exact opposite. Both have been successful in their careers, though everyone is waiting to see if Fleck’s success at Western Michigan can be duplicated in Minnesota. Neither way is the right way, but it’s impossible to not notice the difference.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin is 16-1 in its last 17 trophy games (Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska).

Running back Jonathan Taylor needs 269 yards to break the single-season FBS rushing record for a freshman, which is currently held by Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson. He ran for 1,925 yards in 2004.

The Badgers are allowing just 246.4 yards per game, the No. 2 mark in the nation behind Alabama. While noting they still have at least three games to play, that total would be the fewest by a Wisconsin defense since 1958 (244.1).

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 17 (11-0 on the season, 7-4 against the spread)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 34 , Minnesota 14 (11-0 on the season, 7-4 against the spread)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 41, Minnesota 10 (11-0 on the season, 7-4 against the spread)

(23) UCLA 72, Wisconsin 70: Last word

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aaron Holiday hit a layup with .8 seconds left to give No. 23 UCLA a 72-70 win over Wisconsin Tuesday night in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic.

Player of the Game: Holiday

It wasn’t an overwhelming effort for 40 minutes from the UCLA guard, but he took over down the stretch, scoring the Bruins final 10 points. That included a 3-pointer to give them a 70-67 lead and then the game-winner where he managed to just barely evade the reach of Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ at the rim.

“I said it since I saw him in high school. He’s my pitbull,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “You just turn him loose. And when you turn him loose, I’ve got all the confidence in the world…he’s pretty good at making those shots and those plays.”

The good: The energy

Wisconsin was lethargic to start the game against Baylor on Monday, and it clearly bothered coach Greg Gard. So much so that he suggested potential changes to the lineup could be coming and that’s exactly what happened. He moved freshman Brad Davison and redshirt freshman Aleem Ford into the starting lineup for sophomore Brevin Pritzl and junior Andy Van Vliet, respectively. And Gard got exactly what he was looking for, especially in terms of the kind of intensity his team showed from the opening tip.

“I thought we were pretty active defensively,” Gard said of the change. “I saw a lot of red jerseys diving on the floor. We were the first to the ball. We had faces on the ball as we like to call it.”

Davison scored 14 points and had two rebounds, while also taking four charges. He was one of four Badgers to play at least 33 minutes as Gard, like he said he would on Monday, played the guys that proved they were ready for the moment.

“We’ll continue to evaluate that,” Gard said of the lineup change. “It’s not set in stone. I don’t think I need to set it in stone. They understand you have to earn it to keep it.”

The not so good: Late game issues

In their first two losses of the season — to Xavier and Baylor — the Badgers were right there at the end of the game but couldn’t finish, playing some of their worst basketball in the final minutes. That was once again the case against UCLA. Wisconsin led by six with 3:29 to play, but the Badgers turned the ball over three times in the final eight possessions and scored just five points.

“We’re right there. I’m proud of our guys, how we’ve grown. We’ve been tested a lot of over the last three games,” said Gard of facing three straight ranked opponents. “Eventually, I think [we’ll have] a pretty good team, but it’s just a matter of [needing] to get over that hump and mature in areas to finish halves, finish possessions and finish out games in the way that you need to.”

Stat of the game: 23%

That’s Wisconsin’s 3-point percentage for the game, the third time in five games this year that the Badgers have shot worse than 31-percent from beyond the arc. And it came on a night when UCLA was red hot from deep, hitting 9 of 17 for the game, and going 7 for 9 in the second half alone.

It’s going to be tough for Wisconsin to win games when those two shooting percentages are so far apart.

What they said: The final play

Holdiay’s last-second layup was obviously the main topic after the game, including how Wisconsin played it.

Here’s a look at it from my seat inside the Sprint Center:

Here’s how Happ described it:

“Didn’t play it very well, I guess. Once Brad (Davison) poked it away, it kind of turned into a sporadic play for me. And I wasn’t sure if he was going to stay or not and then once I was matched with (Holiday) I wasn’t sitting down [in my stance] like I should have been.”

Here’s what Davison saw:

“I was supposed to go trap [Holiday]. I knocked it away and he got it. I was like oh, OK, then I had to get back [to my guy]. That was the goal. I was supposed to create some havoc. I think [poking it loose] kind of threw some things off, but [Holiday] is a great player and made a really good play. Have to give him credit.”

Davison on whether this kind of loss will help them down the road
Gard on if they can see the benefit of games like this

In Case You Missed It:

— Wisconsin had two freshmen — Davison and Ford — in its starting lineup for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

— Guard Kobe King came off the bench and had his most productive day of the season, scoring nine points in 17 minutes of action.

— Other than starting 0-1 in the 2015-16 season, this is the first time Wisconsin has been under .500 overall since Dec. 21, 2001. That was former coach Bo Ryan’s first year.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (2-3) will take on UW-Milwaukee (3-1) on Friday at the Kohl Center.

(22) Baylor 70, Wisconsin 65: Last word

KANSAS CITY, Mo., — Manu Lecomte scored a game-high 24 points as Baylor advanced to the championship game of the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic with a 70-65 win over Wisconsin on Monday night.

Wisconsin’s player of the game: Brad Davison

“He’s a tough one.”

Those were the words of coach Greg Gard about his fiery freshman guard after he scored 13 points, including 10 after he returned from being knocked out of the game with what looked like a pretty serious shoulder injury midway through the second half. Davison went into the locker room unable to move his left arm but was back on the floor a little more than two minutes later. And he wasn’t just taking up space — he play really well, serving as the ignitor of a 21-4 run that cut Baylor’s 19-point lead down to two.

“I’m not surprised given the level of his competitiveness and how he battles,” Gard said of Davison’s return. “I had to ask [the training staff if he was OK to go] because I thought he’d be one of those guys that would try to sneak back in on me before I said it was OK.”

The good: The rally

Wisconsin has shown a willingness to fight this year. The Badgers did it after falling behind early to Xavier in each half and were at it again on Monday night. Obviously, Davison was the catalyst, but Ethan Happ was also a force, scoring 10 of his team-high 23 points in the run that took it from a 53-34 game to 57-55 with 2:15 left. Wisconsin, like the Xavier game, wasn’t able to finish in the end, but it’s clear this team can be scrappy.

The not so good: The need for the rally

As scrappy a bunch as Wisconsin can be, the Badgers don’t come out of the gates that way. Whether it’s personnel or something else, their play has been anemic for large stretches, especially the last two times out against ranked opponents. It may simply be a case of guys not being ready for the stage that Gard is putting them on, something he’s clearly aware of.

“The one benefit, I guess, of playing this type of schedule, we’re finding out real fast, against some pretty good teams and players, who’s ready for this and who’s not quite there yet,” Gard said afterward. “The guys that are ready, we have to continue to have those combinations on the floor. And the guys that are not, we’ve got to continue to work with them to have them take steps forward.”

Stat of the game: 5 of 24

That was the shooting performance from guys in Wisconsin’s starting lineup not named Ethan Happ. The quartet of D’Mitrik Trice, Brevin Pritzl, Khalil Iverson and Andy Van Vliet struggled from all over the floor, including a 2 of 10 effort from beyond the arc. That the Badgers still had a chance to win in the final few minutes despite those issues speaks clearly to the play of Davison and Aleem Ford, who combined for 23 points off the bench.

What they said: Potential lineup changes

The calls for the Badgers to make changes to their lineup and rotations were loud after the loss to Xavier and grew louder following Monday night’s result. Based on his comments after the game, Gard might be of the same mindset.

“I’ve learned some things about our guys through that 40 minutes of who I need to have on the floor,” Gard said of the loss to Baylor. “I’ll go back through the film and really look at what I thought I saw in the live action and make some decisions from there. I’m not ruling out that there could be changes.”

It’s unclear what changes Gard will make, but it’s possible a move into the starting lineup by Davison and/or Ford could help with the slow starts. It could also mean a little less pressure on Van Vliet and/or Pritzl to produce at such a high level.

In Case You Missed It

— Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was enshrined into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Kansas City, and was interviewed on the court prior to the Badgers game on Monday.

— Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez attended the enshrinement on Sunday and the game on Monday.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (2-2) will take on No. 23 UCLA (3-1) in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Kansas City. The Bruins fell to Creighton on Monday 100-89.

Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan now officially a member of the college basketball Hall of Fame

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan took his place among the best in college basketball Sunday night, joining a star-studded group as part of the 2017 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class.

The winningest coach in program history, Ryan took the Badgers to the NCAA tournament all 14 years he was in Madison, including a pair of Final Fours. That was on top of the success he had in turning UW-Platteville into a Division III power in the late 1980s and 1990s, winning four national championships.

Ryan retired in December 2015, leaving the program to his long-time assistant Greg Gard, who was in attendance with his team, including nine players that played for Ryan.

In addition to Ryan, the 2017 class included Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan, Duke’s Jay Williams, Indiana’s Scott May, Gonzaga’s John Stockton, Creighton’s Paul Silas and Purdue’s Rick Mount.

Here is a sampling of what Ryan discussed with hosts Fran Fraschilla and Doug Gottlieb at the Midland Theatre in downtown Kansas City.

What growing up in Chester, Penn., taught him:

“Without a doubt being able to handle yourself but not always [being] physical. Be able to handle yourself mentally. Know where to pick your fights. Where you need to stand up. Where you need to make sure you don’t back down. Because Chester will challenge anybody when they’re young into being somebody who can deal with things in life. I really owe a lot to Chester.”

Wisconsin’s ability to maintain excellence unlike it ever had before:

“One thing I always did was that every assistant coach that I hired was a teacher…What I realized was that the most important thing is, are you developing the players on and off the court. And I want to hire teachers. People that know the game, can instruct the game, can disseminate information to the players. That’s what I tried to do with the staff.

“Everybody that worked in my office was a team player. I never used the term about [having] all the oars in the water [rowing as one]. It’s very popular right now, but that’s absolutely, positively the reason that we were steady, successful and not trying to do things that we couldn’t. We were who we were. The guys bought into it. And I would rather take a guy that had a lot of questions rather than the guys who had a lot of answers. And we did a lot of nice things with the guys that wanted to get better and learn.”

On Greg Gard’s ascension to the top spot:

“It’s Greg Gard’s team for a reason. He paid his dues. He was very loyal. And I watched him go through things in his life knowing he could handle the big stage. Not everybody can handle the things that are going on now … But I knew he would do it the right way. And he will continue to do that with the staff that he has.

“I’ve had some very good assistant coaches that have done very well in the game, but Greg was a guy who stayed, stayed, had some opportunities but in my mind, and as Coach Alvarez knows, in my mind, he was the guy that I really wanted to see take the program over. And fortunately it worked.”

How his patented swing offense came to be:

“When I was an assistant coach at Wisconsin [in the 1970s] for Bill Cofield, who gave me my first opportunity to coach in college — and I’ll be forever thankful — we would do live scouting reports … let me tell you the coaches I scouted. Jud Heathcote, Johnny Moore, Lou Henson, Bobby Knight, Lee Rose and then Gene Keady, who were great teachers, great coaches. I’m doing these scouting reports and I’m getting all these different offenses, no tape, no film. And there were certain things that I liked from each one.

“In the swing, I put together a motion offense, four out, one in, and I looked at it one day in practice. We had a window [high] up in the [practice facility] at UW-Platteville, I’m looking at it and we’re changing sides of the floor. Every coach says change sides of the floor, move the ball and bodies. It looked like a swing going back and forth. About two or three swings. So that’s why I named it the swing.”

Going to his first Division I Final Four in 2014 just months after his dad, Butch, passed away:

“That was really tough, because he had passed away at the end of August (2013). He had always said, ‘You’re going to have your team here [at the Final Four] one day.’ I said, ‘Well, dad, that would be great. But isn’t this fun, you and I getting to bond at the Final Four?’ And then he passes away six months later and we beat Arizona to go to the Final Four.

“That was a tough interview with [the late] Craig Sager afterwards … [Butch] wasn’t there. But he was there. I felt his presence. And then to do it again [in 2015], I think I was a little more relaxed the second time. Little more in tune with everything. The experience of the Final Four, I wish everybody could have the opportunity.”

LISTEN: Bo Ryan on “The Joe & Ebo Show”

Reserve DB leaves the Badgers

MADISON — Reserve defensive back Titus Booker is no longer a member of the Wisconsin football team.

The cornerback was removed from the roster between the Nebraska and Purdue games. When asked Thursday morning about Booker, a UW communications official said he had left the program. It’s unclear if he intends to stay at Wisconsin or transfer somewhere else to play football.

A 3-star recruit from Round Lake Beach, Ill., Booker was a big recruiting win for the Badgers. They fended off late interest from a number of schools, including Michigan, which wanted him to play offense. He chose Wisconsin, though, and had former defensive backs coach Daronte Jones excited about his potential, even saying in February 2016 that Booker had a chance to be better than former All-Big Ten cornerback Darius Hillary.

Unfortunately for Booker, that never materialized. Injuries kept him off the field for long stretches of time, including this past spring, and several younger players moved ahead of him on the depth chart.

Booker finished his Wisconsin career with six tackles in 15 games.