Badgers nearly trip over Hawkeyes
The 13th-ranked Badgers barely pulled it out, overcoming a horrid start with defense, toughness and just enough plays in overtime.
Jon Leuer had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Jordan Taylor added 16 points and the Badgers held off Iowa, 62-59, on Wednesday night for their sixth win in seven games.
Keaton Nankivil added 10 points for Wisconsin, which survived despite shooting just 35 percent—and 18 percent in the first half.
“That’s life in the Big Ten. Sometimes there’s going to be nights like that on the road in a tough environment and you have to be able to grind it out,” Leuer said. “It was a gutcheck in overtime. We came through in the end.”
That they did, though it was messy at best.
Wisconsin’s Tim Jarmusz hit a 3 and Leuer followed with a jumper to give the Badgers (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten) a 61-57 lead with 51 seconds left. Bryce Cartwright answered with a jumper for Iowa, but Wisconsin wisely called timeout on a loose ball with 8.7 seconds to go.
Taylor was then fouled after appearing to lose the inbound pass. He hit a free throw, and Cartwright missed a 3 at the buzzer.
Cartwright had 14 points, and Melsahn Basabe had 13 with 11 boards to lead Iowa (10-14, 3-9), which was seeking its first three-game winning streak in the Big Ten in four years.
“I think this team has consistently fought back, I’m really proud of them for that,” McCaffery said. “I never thought this team quit on us. They’re going to keep coming.”
Matt Gatens hit a pair of free throws to put Iowa ahead 53-51 with 1:36 left in regulation, but missed a jumper after Leuer was called for traveling in the paint.
Taylor drilled an 18-footer to bring the Badgers even with 28 seconds left, and Bryce Cartwright missed one from the wing at the regulation buzzer.
“Down the stretch, they made a couple of big plays,” Gatens said. “That was the difference.”
Wisconsin was lucky to survive after trailing 23-18 at halftime. Iowa’s lead could have been much larger than that—and the Hawkeyes soon came to regret it.
The Badgers hit 10 of their first 17 shots of the second half. Taylor threw up a layup that spun around the rim and, for once, went in, and he followed with a 3 to finally put the Badgers ahead, 34-33, with 13:12 left in the second half.
But instead of folding like they had more than once this season, the Hawkeyes roared back out in front 49-43 with a run highlighted by Basabe’s three-point play.
The Badgers didn’t back down, either, tying it up at 51 on Keaton Nankivil’s 3 with 3:54 to go in regulation.
“We got momentum and our guys settled in,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “We had to scrap for every shot. I really liked the way we seized the momentum.”
Wisconsin started out by tossing shots from everywhere that seemed to land anywhere but the basket.
The Badgers missed 17 of their first 19 shots and didn’t score any second-chance points in the first half despite grabbing 12 offensive boards.
It got so bad that Wisconsin’s best shot of the half didn’t even count. Freshman Josh Gasser grabbed a loose ball near halfcourt and sent a desperation fling into the bucket—just after the shot clock expired.
The Hawkeyes didn’t really take advantage, though, blowing three alley-oops of varying degrees of difficulty in a choppy first half.
Iowa’s 0-6 start in the Big Ten has many wondering if—not when—the Hawkeyes will get a league win. The Hawkeyes have shown signs of life for first-year coach Fran McCaffery, but Wisconsin slipped out of Iowa City with its 13th win in 15 tries against Iowa.
Now the Badgers get their first crack at the Buckeyes—a game that’ll be the most anticipated meeting in the Big Ten so far this season.
Though Wisconsin didn’t look much like a team set to knock off a No. 1, bear in mind that the Badgers are a perfect 13-0 at the Kohl Center.
“We’ve got to just keep battling. That’s what this team’s been all about. Just hard work,” Jarmusz said. “It kind of shows the character and veteran leadership of our team.”