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: Wisconsin bounces back, beats Indiana 91–79 behind season-high 26 from Klesmit

Neenah native continues hot shooting streak, Badgers remain in first place
Soren Goldsmith

After a disappointing road loss to Penn State University on Tuesday, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team righted the ship Friday and took down a 12-7 Indiana University team that was missing star center Kel’el Ware due to a right foot injury.

The victory advanced UW to 14-4 on the season and 6-1 in conference play, retaining their seat atop the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have now lost four of their last six and have lost 19 straight at the Kohl Center, a streak that dates back to 1998.

The catalyst for UW was guard Max Klesmit, who poured in 23 second half points and put together one of the most impressive displays of offense in recent memory. He was accompanied by guard AJ Storr (15 points), forward Steven Crowl (12 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and guard John Blackwell (12 points, four rebounds). On the other hand, forward Malik Reneau posted 28 points and eight rebounds and freshman Mackenzie Mgbako totaled 17 points for Indiana.


The man properly deemed “Mad Max” answered a 9–0 Hoosier second-half run that brought the difference to seven with a personal 14–2 run. The run was part of a 20-point outburst for Klesmit that occurred in less than five minutes of game time. During that stretch, Klesmit hit four 3-pointers — including one that ended up as a four point play — and took an intentional elbow to the face from Indiana wing CJ Gunn that resulted in a flagrant two foul and Gunn’s ejection.

After Friday’s performance, Klesmit has racked up 78 points in his last seven halves. While his hot streak has caught many off guard, a heater like this has been a long time coming.

“The confidence for [Max] had started late last year and blossomed into the offseason and obviously it’s showing now too,” Badgers’ head coach Greg Gard said postgame.

Badgers get trounced 98-73 by Arizona, give up most points since 1995

But, the beauty of Klesmit’s recent tear comes in the fact that his production has come in the flow of the offense.

His teammates have recognized this trait, and have taken full advantage.

“It’s really easy to find Max, you know?” point guard Chucky Hepburn said. “He moves so well without the ball. He’s so easy to play with.”

While it’s simple to get caught up in UW’s budding offensive attack, there’s still plenty for the Badgers to improve upon.

After a slow and sloppy start to Tuesday’s loss to the Nittany Lions, UW once again fell flat in the early going Friday. Four and a half minutes into the contest, Wisconsin trailed 8–3, had committed three turnovers and sat 1-for-5 on field goals. Coming out of a media timeout, Gard turned to the bench trio of point guard Kamari McGee, forward Carter Gilmore and Blackwell. Their presence immediately shifted the game, as Blackwell rattled off seven consecutive points to retake the lead.

After snapping out of the rut, the Badgers would turn the ball over just once more in the half.  The group got their field goal percentage up to 52% to claim a 39–26 halftime advantage.

From there, it was smooth sailing for the Badgers as they maintained the double-digit advantage for all but 43 seconds of the second half to end up with a 12-point victory.

Post game, it was clear that UW was not satisfied with their defense.

“I thought first half we were pretty good but second half, it looked like an NBA All-Star game at times,” Gard said, as the second half defense gave up 53 points.

“There’s definitely major tweaks we gotta fix on defense,” Hepburn said, echoing Gard’s statement. “Teams are starting to find our flaws so we gotta start fixing that up, and we definitely will.”

Currently, the Badgers rank fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to the 2024 Pomeroy College Basketball Rankings. On the other end of the floor though, UW sits in 50th place in adjusted defensive efficiency.

In Gard’s opinion, it will ultimately be their defense that will decide when this season ends.

 “If they want to go where they say they want to go … we have to become more complete, specifically on [the defensive] end,” Gard said.

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 *