The top ten seeded teams in the RACs did not win. Those were the rumors that led to Saturday night’s match between the 13th seed Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team and Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Sometimes, rumors are just the thing.
The Badgers (23-5 overall, 14-4 Big Ten) beat the Scarlet Knights (16-12 total, 10-8 Big Ten) by five points, 66-61, and will enter the final week of the regular season single-handedly holding the top spot in the Big Ten.
The game started with some classic Big Ten soccer-like excitement. Rutgers didn’t score in the first 3:39 of the game and the Badgers only had five points. Tyler Wahl’s early three pointer started scoring, which is usually an ominous sign, but the Badgers ended up firing 41.7% from depth (5 of 12) while finishing the first half with a 33-24 lead. In fact, UW was never late in the first half!
Brad Davison was the leading scorer in the first half with 11 points (4 of 8 shots, 3 of 5 of three) and new base guard Chucky Hepburn was resolute in attack, chasing his whole shot, dropping 10 points. points.
Wahl played a tough defense on Ron Harper, Jr. And he carried the star to seven points in a 3 out of 7 shot, and 0 out of 3 from outside the arc, in the first half. In fact, the entire Scarlet Knights shot poorly in the first half, not taking three shots in six attempts and only shooting 9 of 24 (37.5%) from the field.
Rutgers point guard Paul Mulcahy leads the Big Ten in assists but has not scored a single in the first half and has turned the ball more than five times. He had five points and four rebounds, so he found some other ways to contribute, but his transformations were costly and prevented Rutgers’ attack from entering the flow.
With nothing easy on these Badgers, Rutgers blasted off early 8-0 in the second half to cut the lead to three points with 15 minutes remaining. Then, there was a lot of swing between the two teams before Geo Baker made the jump with 7:28 left to give RU its first lead in the game 51-50.
The end of the match was tense but Davis made four free throws in the last 37 seconds, with Wahl’s free throws mixed, to freeze the match. After a slow start to the game, Davis rushed in, scoring 15 points in the second half. Although not necessarily effective (4 out of 10 from the field), he regularly hit the free throw line and bounced the ball well.
Notable stats lines:
- Johnny Davis -> 19 points (6 of 19 from the floor), eight rebounds, one pass
- Brad Davison -> 14 points (5 of 11 from the ground), four rebounds, two assists, two shots.
- Chuckie Hepburn -> 13 points (5 of 11 from the floor), five assists, two steals
- Geo Becker (Rutgers) -> 19 points (9 of 19 from the floor), four assists, one steal
next one: 1st place The Badgers are home for a massive showdown with 2nd place Purdue Tuesday night at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. Win there and they’ll win the Big Ten. Be there, be loud, win a trophy.
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