Bronson Koenig

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Swanigan, Thompson lead No. 15 Purdue past Wisconsin 91-80

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Freshman Caleb Swanigan scored a career-high 27 points and sophomore P.J. Thompson also set a career best with 22, leading No. 15 Purdue to a 91-80 victory against Wisconsin on Sunday.

A.J. Hammons added 16 points and Vince Edwards had 11 for the Boilermakers (24-7, 12-6), who forced a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten with Maryland, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Purdue earned the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play in Friday’s second semifinal against an opponent to be determined.

Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6) with 30 points, including 18 in the second half. The Badgers earned the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament and will play Thursday in Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Badgers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped, are the reigning Big Ten Tournament champs.

After Thompson made five first-half 3-pointers, the Badgers were forced to extend their defense and Swanigan, Purdue’s power forward, had a 23-point second half. The Boilermakers will take a three-game winning streak into the Big Ten tourney.

The Boilermakers opened the second half with a three-point play from Swanigan and a steal and dunk from Edwards to seize a 50-39 lead with 18:12 remaining. Swanigan’s layup pushed the advantage to 52-39 at the 17:09 mark.

Purdue shot 63 percent (17 of 27) during the first half and led 45-39 through 20 minutes, getting 15 from Thompson on 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

After Wisconsin, which shot 57.1 percent in the half (16 of 28) took a 29-21 lead, the Boilermakers finished the half outscoring the Badgers 24-10, including six 3-pointers. Purdue also outrebounded Wisconsin 13-7 during the first 20 minutes, when Hayes scores 12 for the Badgers.

TIP-INS

Wisconsin: Entering the Purdue game, the Badgers were 11-1 since a Jan. 12 loss at Northwestern, losing only at second-ranked Michigan State on Feb. 18. … In its eight most recent games, Wisconsin is 72 of 175 from 3-point range (41.1 percent), averaging nine made 3s in those eight contests. … The Badgers have won 20 games for a 10th consecutive season and have won at least 12 Big Ten games for a seventh consecutive year.

Purdue: The Boilermakers’ non-starters outscored the opponent’s bench in 28 of the first 30 games. … Entering the Wisconsin game, center A.J, Hammons had scored in double figures 11 consecutive times … The Boilermakers’ 46.5 field goal percentage is the program’s best since the 1997-98 team shot 48.4 percent. … Purdue entered having won 22 of its last 23 home games.

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Wisconsin: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

Purdue: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

Wisconsin beats No. 8 Iowa, continuing recent hot streak

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As one of the Big Ten’s most improved players, Iowa’s Peter Jok has become a primary offensive option alongside Jarrod Uthoff for one of the conference’s best teams. And in the first half of Wednesday’s game against Wisconsin the junior was nearly unstoppable, scoring 17 of Iowa’s 34 first-half points. Wisconsin needed to slow him down in order to win, and thanks in large part to the defense of Zak Showalter the Badgers managed to do just that.

Jok scored just four points in the second stanza thanks to Showalter, and thanks to contributions throughout the lineup Wisconsin produced a 67-59 victory in Iowa City. At one point 9-9 on the season (1-4 in Big Ten play), Wisconsin’s now won nine of its last ten games. And at 10-5 in conference play Greg Gard’s team is still a factor in the Big Ten title race, something that few envisioned for this team six weeks ago.

Bronson Koenig scored 15 points and Nigel Hayes ten, and while they’ve matured throughout the season so has the rest of the roster. The role players made the difference Wednesday night, be it Showalter with his defense or reserves such as Charlie Thomas and Khalil Iverson providing a needed spark off the bench. Wisconsin received 23 points from its bench compared to four for Iowa, and that combined with Wisconsin’s defense was the difference.

Jok was quiet in the second half thanks to Showalter, and Wisconsin also limited Jarrod Uthoff to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Earlier in the season Iowa was receiving points from a host of players, so even with Uthoff playing at an All-American level and Jok not far behind Fran McCaffery’s team proved incredibly difficult to slow down offensively. That hasn’t been the case of late, one reason why Iowa’s lost three of its last four games.

If Iowa, which now trails Indiana by a game in the Big Ten standings, is to win the conference title it will need more from the likes of Mike Gesell (four points, 2-for-9 FG) and Dom Uhl (two points, 1-for-4 shooting) than they’ve received in recent games.

With its defense Wisconsin made those players beat them, and Iowa couldn’t get it done. Hayes and Koenig will continue to lead the way for the Badgers as this team approaches the NCAA tournament. But the reason why Wisconsin will hear its name called when the field is announced, not to mention be a threat to win once there, is the fact that the players who aren’t the headliners have improved throughout the course of the season.

And that’s a credit to the players and their head coach, who continues to strengthen his case to have the interim tag removed.

Wisconsin ends No. 2 Maryland’s 27-game home win streak

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Just over a month ago Wisconsin lost at Northwestern, dropping to 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten and had the look of a team that would have to fight simply to get into the NIT. Since then, Greg Gard’s Badgers have won seven straight games with the most recent triumph being a 70-57 victory at No. 2 Maryland. Not only did Wisconsin become the first Big Ten team to beat the Terrapins at the Xfinity Center since Maryland joined the Big Ten, but they also ended Maryland’s 27-game home win streak.

And it was Wisconsin’s offensive balance that stood out, as four starters scored in double figures led by forward Vitto Brown.

Brown, who accounted for 18 points and five rebounds in Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska Wednesday night, was even better against Maryland as he scored a career-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. While Bronson Koenig (16 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Nigel Hayes (14 and six rebounds) are the ones expected to shoulder much of the load, players such as Brown, Ethan Happ and Zak Showalter (11 points) will also be key as Wisconsin makes its push for an NCAA tournament bid.

In Wisconsin’s first five conference games Brown averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. Since then he’s averaging 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, scoring in double figures in each of Wisconsin’s last three games.

Overall Wisconsin’s looked far more fluid offensively during this win streak, and over the last three games the Badgers have shot very well from the perimeter as they made nearly 51 percent of their attempts (12-for-26 against Maryland). Add in Wisconsin’s ability to take advantage of Maryland’s defensive rebounding issues, converting 13 offensive boards into 20 second-chance points, and it was easy to see why Wisconsin was able to grab control of the game in the first half during a 20-0 run that gave them the separation they needed.

Maryland’s issues throughout conference play remain the same, as they struggled to end defensive possessions while also turning the ball over far too often (seven times) during the aforementioned Wisconsin run. With Melo Trimble not playing at the level he’s capable of reaching (he may not be completely healthy), Maryland has some things to address during this stretch run.

But more than anything, Saturday was the product of a Wisconsin team that’s starting to click at the right time. And as crazy as it may seem, given how Wisconsin began Big Ten play, the Badgers only two games out of first place.

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: Wisconsin comes back, No. 10 SMU still undefeated

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GAME OF THE DAY: Colorado 91, Oregon 87

The Buffaloes completed an important home weekend sweep of the Oregon schools with a four-point win over Oregon in Boulder. If you like offense this was the game for you, as both teams shot at least 50 percent from the field and ten players scored in double figures (five for each team). Josh Scott led the way for Colorado with 17 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds, and Colorado’s 14-point advantages at the foul line (25-11) and in second-chance points (26-12) helped them make up for Oregon shooting 12-for-21 from three. Dillon Brooks paced Oregon with 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

Wisconsin 77, No. 4 Michigan State 76: Trailing by four in the final minute, Wisconsin scored the game’s final five points to pick up a close win after falling short on multiple occasions this season. The Spartans played without the injured Tum Tum Nairn and they certainly missed their point guard down the stretch. With the late collapse Michigan State became the third Top 10 team to lose two games this week (No. 8 Miami, No. 9 Duke). Should we be worried about the Spartans?

No. 16 Iowa 82, Michigan 72: Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes won their 11th straight Big Ten regular season game, pulling away from the Wolverines late in Iowa City. Jarrod Uthoff scored 23 points and Peter Jok added 16 for Iowa, which had four players score in double figures and shot 51.7 percent from the field. Derrick Walton Jr. led the way for Michigan with 16 points and six assists, but 13 Wolverine turnovers were converted into 16 points by Iowa. Iowa scored the game’s first 11 points, and that proved to be the difference.

Florida State 69, No. 13 Virginia 62: Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles shot 63.2 percent from the field in the second half as they won their second straight ACC game. Malik Beasley scored 14 of his 17 in the second half and fellow freshman Dwayne Bacon tallied 18 points and nine rebounds in the win. As for the Cavaliers, they’ve lost all three of their conference road games and the same reasons reared their ugly heads Sunday night in Tallahassee.

STARRED

Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes: Wisconsin’s two leaders combined to score 52 of the team’s 77 points in their win over No. 4 Michigan State. Add in Ethan Happ’s 14 and the remaining Badgers combined to score 11 points.

Creighton’s Isaiah Zierden: Zierden shot 9-for-12 from the field, including eight three-pointers, and scored 31 points in the Bluejays’ win at DePaul.

Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet: 29 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field (8-for-8 FT), five assists and three steals in a win over Indiana State.

STRUGGLED

Tulane’s Jernard Jarreau: Jarreau scored five points on 1-for-8 shooting from the field in Tulane’s loss to No. 10 SMU.

Houston’s Devonta Pollard: Pollard scored two points, shooting 0-for-7 from the field, in the Cougars’ home loss to UConn.

Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon: Brogdon scored ten points, shooting 4-for-17 from the field in the Cavaliers’ loss at Florida State.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 10 SMU remained the nation’s lone undefeated team, as they moved to 17-0 with a 60-45 win at Tulane. Markus Kennedy led four Mustangs in double figures with 13 points, and SMU limited the Green Wave to 29.2 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers on the day.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Creighton took another step towards entering the bubble conversation (if they aren’t involved already) Sunday, avoiding what would have been a bad loss by winning at DePaul 91-80. Isaiah Zierden shot 8-for-11 from three and scored a career-high 31 for the Bluejays.
  • UConn got back on the right track, outscoring Houston 41-22 in the second half and winning 69-57. Sterling Gibbs led four Huskies in double figures with 20 points.
  • Army West Point defended its home floor with a 65-45 win over American. Larry Toomey scored 13 points and Kyle Wilson and Dylan Cox added 12 apiece for the Black Knights, who are now 3-3 in Patriot League play.
  • Playing without the suspended Jordan Washington, Iona dropped its second straight game 79-75 at Rider. The Gaels are now 6-2 in the MAAC, with Monmouth and Saint Peter’s (both 5-1) tied in the loss column.
  • Wichita State remained atop the Missouri Valley with an 82-62 win over Indiana State. Fred VanVleet scored 29 points and dished out five assists, and Ron Baker added 16 points in the win.
  • Utah picked up a much-needed win at home, coming back to beat Oregon State 59-53. Jakob Poeltl scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the way, as the visiting Beavers were undone by a cold offensive stretch of more than seven minutes and Jarmal Reid’s moment of insanity.

Wisconsin upsets No. 4 Michigan State after late Spartans collapse

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Ethan Happ scored on a layup with 10.8 seconds left and Wisconsin survived an open look at a three from Denzel Valentine as the Badgers landed an upset win over No. 4 Michigan State in the Kohl Center on Sunday afternoon, 77-76.

Bronson Koenig led the way for the Badgers, finishing with 27 points and four assists. He hit a three with 25 seconds left that cut MSU’s lead to 76-75 and, after Eron Harris turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds, fed Happ on a pick-and-roll for the game-winning layup.

Wisconsin is in a bad way this season. Having lost three NBA players, two more senior guards and a Hall of Fame head coach in the span of nine months, the Badgers entered Sunday sitting at 9-9 on the season with a 1-4 record in the Big Ten. They haven’t been much better since Greg Gard took over for Bo Ryan during the holiday break, but if there is going to be a turning point in their season, this will be it. Michigan State, when they’re healthy, is a Final Four contender with a National Player of the Year candidate running the show, and they had the Badgers beaten.

It’s not often that you see a team coached by Tom Izzo blow a four-point lead in the final 30 seconds.

So this isn’t just a résumé booster for the Badgers. It’s the kind of confidence-building, come-from-behind win that can spark a run.

At least that’s what optimistic Badger fans should be telling themselves today.

As far as the Spartans are concerned, this is now the second loss they’ve suffered this week, although losing on a last-second shot in the Kohl Center — even if it is to this Wisconsin team — is far different than getting run out of their own building by Iowa. Denzel Valentine, who finished with 23 points, seven boards and five assists, looks like he’s back to being the Valentine of old (although I bet he wishes he had another shot at that game-winning jumper), but there are some bigger issues for Izzo.

Without Tum Tum Nairn, who is out for at least a couple of weeks with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, the Spartans don’t have all that much quality depth. Matt McQuaid started at the point for Nairn, but it was Bryn Forbes and Harris who spent the majority of the game flanking Valentine. Beyond that, Gavin Schilling was the only front court player to get into the scorebook.

The best lineup that Izzo can field features Valentine, Harris and Forbes with Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis up front. It’s not surprising that they get the most minutes, but those depth issues will be something to keep an eye.

But if we’re being frank, there are only two reasons that a loss in the Kohl Center is concerning: 1. It can four days after the Iowa loss, and 2. Michigan State gave the game away in the final seconds.

Their hopes of winning a Big Ten regular season title may be gone, but this Michigan State team is far from dead.

Marquette hands Wisconsin third home loss this season

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This is Bo Ryan’s 15th season at Wisconsin, and entering the year, the Badgers had lost a grand total of eight games in the Kohl Center against non-conference competition.

It just wasn’t something that happened.

On Saturday, Wisconsin suffered their fourth loss of the young season to Marquette, the third time in the season’s first four weeks that they have taken a loss at home. This one may have been the most painful, as a Wisconsin comeback came up short, 57-55, against in-state rival Marquette.

Superstar freshman Henry Ellenson finished with 15 points, 11 boards and four assists while Luke Fischer chipped in with 12 points and eight boards for the Golden Eagles as the dup combined to take 27 of Marquette’s 46 field goal attempts. Marquette shot just five threes on Saturday. That matters for this group for two reasons:

1. The combination of Ellenson and Fischer is as good offensively as any front line in college basketball. They need touches, and when Marquette funnels their offense through them, the Golden Eagles actually have a chance of being pretty good.

2. Marquette’s guards have not consistently shot the ball well from beyond the arc, but they did consistently get those threes up in bunches this year. They shot 30 threes in a 28-point home loss to Iowa, including a 2-for-19 start. They can make threes when they play inside-out. They are not what you would call a three-point shooting team, and, at least on Saturday, it looks like Steve Wojciechowski has driven that point home.

Marquette doesn’t have any standout wins yet this season, but they have now beaten LSU, Arizona State and Wisconsin with their only losses coming against Belmont — not a bad loss — and Iowa. Their non-conference schedule is awful weak, so they’re going to need to put together some wins over the top-shelf teams in the Big East if they want to go dancing. But Marquette is in a position to make that happen, which isn’t exactly something that was expected in October.

As far as the Badgers are concerned, this just doesn’t look like a group that’s going to be able to turn things around in Big Ten play. They don’t have enough balance offensively. Nigel Hayes no longer has the advantage of pulling bigger power forwards away from the basket now that he’s essentially playing as a small forward. Bronson Koenig is struggling as the lone creator in Wisconsin’s back court.

Those two combined to shooting 7-for-29 from the floor on Saturday.