Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s Basketball: Essegian erupts for career-high 23 points, Badgers escape Wolverines

With no field goal for over half of closing frame, Wisconsin emerges victorious
Justin Mielke/The Badger Herald

After relinquishing a 17-point second half advantage against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Greg Gard’s Wisconsin Badgers (15-10, 7-8 Big Ten) vanquished Juwan Howard’s Michigan Wolverines (14-12, 8-7) 64-59 Feb. 14 in Madison.

Despite hosting Michigan on Valentine’s Day, it’s safe to say these programs did not exchange love letters prior to tipoff. After suffering a 14-point defeat to the Badgers on Feb. 22, 2022, Juwan Howard engaged in a few extracurricular activities along the sideline.

The scuffle, and his ensuing actions, prompted conference commissioner Kevin Warren to enforce a five-game suspension, abruptly concluding Howard’s 2021-2022 coaching commitments in Ann Arbor. 


“After taking time to reflect on all that happened, I realize how unacceptable both my actions and words were, and how they affected so many,” Howard said after the contest. “I am truly sorry. … I will learn from my mistake and this mistake will never happen again. No excuses!”

Area Red certainly received the memo. Every time the Wolverines’ Hunter Dickinson touched the ball, UW’s student section showered Michigan’s biggest offensive threat with boos. This trend prevailed throughout the match, and one could argue this level of hostility psychologically hindered U-M’s execution. 

Football: How former Badgers fared during 2022-2023 NFL campaign

The Badgers spared no time in activating Steven Crowl as the primary threat down low. Within the opening 15 minutes of regulation, the Minnesota native showcased both his crosscourt passing vision and skill set in the painted area. On multiple occasions, the gentle giant found cutting Badgers for bunnies near the cylinder or kicked it out to an open Max Klesmit and Essegian beyond the arc.

Courtesy of an energetic atmosphere, both squads operated through a quick cadence during the first period of play. Neither group pulled away by more than seven tallies before the break, and Wisconsin reverted to its traditional success and inside-out motion.

The defining stretch of the half, though, arrived during Michigan’s 10-3 scoring spurt prior to halftime. On consecutive sequences, Dickinson nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing and a lefty hook, Kareem-style, near the left baseline. With both hands in the air, the junior almost beckoned the crowd to continue its onslaught. 

Eight different Badgers scratched the shore sheet during the first half, and even with Crowl’s 10 first half attempts, UW accounted for eight dimes on 12 made field goals and allowed just two giveaways. Michigan’s 50% efficiency from both the field and downtown propelled Howard’s bunch to a 32-31 edge as they exchanged pleasantries with the home crowd. 

Now, Badger faithful surely recognizes the red and white’s tendency to fall into a monumental scoring drought each match. The turbulence occurred for nearly 11 minutes, but in capitalizing off six early Michigan turnovers, Wisconsin actually established a 12-tally advantage by the 10:27 mark.

During one three-minute stretch, spark plug Kamari McGee and Crowl combined for nine points and electrified the Kohl Center. With UW Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Michael Finley in attendance, the momentum belonged to UW.

After Connor Essegian calmly drained a pair of shots from the charity stripe, Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin unleashed his do-it-yourself kit. Bufkin’s seven straight Wolverine points prompted Gard to call timeout, and for the next four minutes, the Badgers could not shoot a beach ball into the ocean. 

Football: Two Badger alums hoist Lombardi trophy for Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII

Through downhill play and aggressiveness inside, the Wolverines clawed back and diminished their deficit to just one. From that point forward, Michigan elected to utilize Don Nelson’s Hack-a-Shaq strategy, essentially daring Wisconsin to execute from the free throw line. 

Fortunately for UW, Essegian and Klesmit hit nothing but net on nine of the final 10 attempts from the foul line, and, notwithstanding his 1-9 dud, Chucky Hepburn sealed the deal with a clutch swipe against Dug McDaniel.

“I was satisfied with the response Sunday after film,” said Gard in his post game press conference. “They know we just had to play better basketball… I thought they responded, specifically on the defensive end, like we needed to respond.”

For Wisconsin, Essegian absolutely torched the Wolverines. The Indiana native registered a career-best 23 points and nine pivotal free throws during crunch time. Crowl, UW’s 7-foot swiss army knife, poured in five field goals, corralled 12 boards and dished out a game-best six assists. Klesmit scored 10 points, and Kamari McGee, UW’s unsung hero off the bench, accounted for six points off a season-high 13 minutes on the hardwood.

On the opposite side, Bufkin channeled his inner mamba from each level of the court. The southpaw drilled a career-high nine field goals for 21 tallies, 13 of which arrived in the second half. Wisconsin fan-favorite Dickinson secured a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double, and Jett Howard, Michigan’s lights-out marksman, scored just nine points off a 4-14 mark from the floor.

Looking ahead, Wisconsin hosts another critical home contest against Steve Pikiell’s formidable Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday, Feb. 18.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *