The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (13-16, 6-10 Big Ten) finished off the University of Minnesota (14-15, 3-13 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center 73-63 in overtime for their second straight victory.
But the Badgers had to fight back from a 58-51 deficit with 5:51 left on the clock to make this win possible. Though he’d been held to just four points at this point, Ethan Happ’s clutch post moves and layup tied the game up with 5.3 seconds left, and his subsequent defensive play on Nate Mason secured an overtime appearance for the Badgers.
Once in overtime, the game wasn’t close. Wisconsin capitalized on their momentum from the second half, outscoring Minnesota 14-4 in the extra period.
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Minnesota’s game plan, like many other teams’ this season, was to aggressively double-team Happ, Wisconsin’s main offensive weapon, holding him scoreless in the first half. This time though, the Badgers had enough.
Wisconsin guards Brad Davison and Brevin Pritzl capitalized on their open opportunities from the attention on Happ. Davison went 5-8 from 3-point range while Pritzl went 6-9, leading the Badgers with 19 and 20 points respectively.
For Davison, there was extra incentive for the Maple Grove, Minnesota native to perform against his hometown team. While he was offered a scholarship with the Gophers, the freshman has vocalized that Wisconsin was always where he wanted to end up.
Davison’s play in this game and on the season is probably making the Gophers wish they had made a better pitch. While the point guard struggled with turnovers after taking over for injured D’Mitrik Trice, it appears as if Davison has hit his stride as a facilitator. Over his past six games, Davison has had 18 assists to just six turnovers, never giving up the ball more than once in any game over this stretch.
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Despite two encouraging wins, Wisconsin’s tournament hopes are still bleak. With the win last night the Badgers clinched a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which will likely be their best shot at continuing their streak of 20 straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
But the Badgers recent play has shown they can compete with their peers in the Big Ten, giving a glimpse of hope for a late-season run. Wisconsin’s next game at Northwestern on Thursday will give us further insight on how the Badgers will fare in the conference tournament.