Wisconsin adds Wofford transfer Max Klesmit to its backcourt

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin has added former Wofford guard Max Klesmit as the Badgers continue reshaping their roster.

Klesmit, who is from Neenah, Wisconsin, scored 14.9 points per game for Wofford this past season and earned third-team all-Southern Conference honors. The 6-foot-3 Klesmit also had 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

He had 8.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a freshman in 2020-21.

This announcement comes three weeks after Wisconsin added Green Bay transfer Kamari McGee, a 6-foot guard from Racine who averaged 11.6 points for the Phoenix this past season.

Wisconsin must replace All-America guard Johnny Davis and second-leading scorer Brad Davison from a team that went 25-8, won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title and reached the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 during the 2021-22 campaign.

Kamari McGee transferring from Green Bay to Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin has added Green Bay transfer Kamari McGee, a 6-foot guard who averaged 11.6 points in his lone season with the Phoenix.

McGee, who is from Racine, Wisconsin, made the Horizon League’s all-freshman team this season. He shot 38.8% from the floor and made 80.8% of his free throws.

“He is a leader and role model in his community of Racine and is a motivated student, who will thrive both on and off the floor here at Wisconsin,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said in a statement. “A ferocious competitor, Kamari makes his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor. He also brings experience and leadership to our backcourt, which is vital to our team’s success.”

Wisconsin must replace All-America guard Johnny Davis and second-leading scorer Brad Davison from a team that went 25-8, won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title and reached the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 this season.

The Badgers’ depth has taken a hit with Lorne Bowman II, Ben Carlson and Matthew Mors entering the transfer portal. Bowman has since committed to Oakland while Mors is heading to South Dakota State.

Bowman leaving Wisconsin to play closer to his Detroit home

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MADISON, Wis. – Guard Lorne Bowman is leaving Wisconsin to play somewhere closer to his Detroit home.

Bowman played 22 games this season and averaged 3 points, 1.1 rebound and 10.4 minutes.

He had taken a leave of absence for the entire 2020-21 season and returned home to deal with a family matter.

“We completely understand and support Lorne’s decision to step away from the program and university,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said Friday in a statement. “We know this is what’s best for him currently and also for his future. He has been an inspirational and important part of our team over the last two years and will forever be a Big Ten champion and a Badger.”

Bowman said in a statement that “the University of Wisconsin will always have a special place in my heart.”

Kalscheur, Iowa State beat Wisconsin to reach Sweet 16

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MILWAUKEE — Gabe Kalscheur scored 22 points and 11th-seeded Iowa State surprised Wisconsin in the Badgers’ backyard, advancing to the Sweet 16 with a 54-49 victory Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Izaiah Brockington added 10 points as the gritty Cyclones used their tough defense to hold off Johnny Davis and company in front of a raucous pro-Wisconsin crowd about 80 miles away from the school’s Madison campus.

After winning just two games last season, Iowa State (22-12) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016 and the sixth time in school history. It will play the Miami-Auburn winner in the Midwest Region semifinals on Friday in Chicago.

Kalscheur, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Minnesota who knows all about tough games in Wisconsin, went 10 for 19 from the field. The rest of the Cyclones combined for 10 made field goals.

After Brockington and freshman Tyrese Hunter led Iowa State to a 59-54 win over LSU in the first round, it was Kalscheur’s day.

Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year, led Wisconsin with 17 points, but the Badgers shot a season-low 29.8% from the field and turned it over a season-high 17 times. Wisconsin was leading the nation with an average of 8.4 turnovers per game coming into the day.

The Badgers, who lost freshman point guard Chucky Hepburn to a leg injury in the first half, led by one after Chris Vogt’s rebound dunk with 18:09 left. But the Cyclones responded with an 11-2 run.

Kalscheur’s 3 put Iowa State ahead to stay, and Brockington’s jumper made it 38-30 with 10 minutes left.

The Badgers pulled within five on Davis’ two foul shots with 3:09 to go, but the rally fizzled from there. Hunter made two free throws and Kalscheur added another one from the line to help the Cyclones hold on.

Hepburn hurt his left leg after contesting Hunter’s layup with 4:37 left in the first half. He grabbed his leg after he landed and had to be helped off the court.

Hunter’s basket sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Cyclones a 25-22 lead with 1:44 remaining. Caleb Grill converted a layup as time expired, making it 27-26 Iowa State at the break.

Davis spiked the ball in frustration as he left the court after Grill’s basket. The Badgers had eight turnovers at the break after they turned it over just five times during their 67-60 victory over Colgate in the first round.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa State: The Cyclones’ stout defense is keeping the team in games while it struggles on offense, and that makes the Big 12 team a threat in the next round.

Wisconsin: Hepburn’s injury put the Badgers in a bad spot, but the team just never got into a rhythm offensively.

Spartans pull away late to beat No. 12 Wisconsin 69-63

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INDIANAPOLIS — Marcus Bingham Jr. embraced being the game-changer Friday night.

Tyson Walker helped seventh-seeded Michigan State make sure the title stuck.

Bingham scored 11 of his career-high matching 19 points during a crucial second-half stretch and Walker scored nine of his 11 points in the final 93 seconds to help the Spartans beat No. 12 Wisconsin 69-63 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

“I was getting challenged by my coaches,” Bingham said. “I felt like the last two games coming in, I was slacking in some areas and I just wanted to get it back right.”

It was an astounding twist. Bingham hadn’t topped the 15-point mark since mid-December and entered tourney play with only two double-doubles all season. With 10 rebounds Friday, he now has two in two days.

And this one came as the Big Ten’s top two seeds and regular-season co-champs, Wisconsin and No. 16 Illinois, both lost in the quarterfinals for the first time. The top-seeded Fighting Illini fell to Indiana in the first game Friday.

Michigan State (22-11) lost five of its last seven regular-season games but now finds itself one win away from playing in a sixth title game in 10 tourneys.

“It’s been an interesting year,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said, “but to do what we did, to play the way we did defensively, to keep the turnovers down after four or five early and then going inside to my big guy, who finally stayed inside, which was important, was big,.

Brad Davison led the Badgers (24-7) with 23 points.

Big Ten player of the year Johnny Davis played through an ankle injury but struggled. He missed his first eight shots, went 3 of 19 from the field, 0 for 5 on 3-pointers and wound up with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Davis refused to blame the poor shooting on the injury, even though Izzo thought the lack of practice time probably had an impact.

Wisconsin lost its second straight for the first time all season – both by six or fewer points after starting the season with 15 straight wins in games that close.

Bingham swung the game in the second half by scoring all of the points in the Spartans’ 11-2 run that erased a 40-36 deficit and gave Michigan State a 47-42 with 7:57 left.

They never trailed again though the Badgers tied the score at 58 on Chucky Hepburn’s 3 with 1:56 to play. Walker answered with a short jumper to break the tie and a 15-footer to make it 62-58 with 58.4 seconds left.

Michigan State closed it out at the free-throw line.

“I thought there were times we let him (Bingham) catch it too deep and too easily and we didn’t give his defender enough support,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said. “He was better than what we were defensively.”

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: The Spartans helped their NCAA Tournament seeding with this win. How far they’ll climb remains to be seen, but they’re just one win away from reaching the Big Ten title game for the sixth time in 10 tourneys.

Wisconsin: With Davis struggling, the Badgers weren’t themselves. They shot 24.1% in the first half in a game that was reminiscent of their 2000 national semifinal game. Michigan State also won that one, 53-41, en route to coach Tom Izzo’s only national championship.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Badgers almost certainly will slide in the final rankings Monday but where they’ll end up may be determined by how many upsets occur in conference tournaments this weekend. More interesting will be seeing how the NCAA Tournament selection committee views Davis’ injury after Friday’s game – or whether it costs Wisconsin a chance of playing in nearby Milwaukee.

STAT PACK

Michigan State: Walker also had seven assists. … Izzo has beaten Wisconsin in three straight conference tourney games. … Michigan State committed only seven turnovers and went 1 of 11 on 3s.

Wisconsin: Davis also had three assists. … Hepburn finished with 11 points. … The Badgers shot 36.7% from the field and were just 7 of 24 on 3s and 12 of 21 from the free-throw line.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Faces either No. 9 Purdue or 11th-seeded Penn State in Saturday’s second semifinal.

Wisconsin: Will find out who it plays and where Sunday night.

Davis hurt, No. 10 Wisconsin misses B10 clinch, Huskers win

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MADISON, Wis. — Tenth-ranked Wisconsin lost leading scorer Johnny Davis when he was injured on a flagrant foul early in the second half, and the Badgers missed a chance to clinch the Big Ten title outright by falling to Nebraska 74-73 Sunday.

Alonzo Verge Jr. scored Nebraska’s last nine points, part of a 12-0 rally in the final minutes.

Wisconsin (24-6, 15-5) could still finish alone atop the Big Ten if second-place Illinois loses to Iowa later Sunday. The conference tournament starts Wednesday.

Davis was hurt when he was fouled on a layup try by Trey McGowens with 17:32 left. Davis went to the locker room and didn’t return to the bench, and the Badgers said he was out with a lower body injury.

Davis averages 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. He scored 10 before being injured by McGowens, who was ejected.

The Cornhuskers (10-21, 4-16) trailed 71-62 with under six minutes left before their comeback. Verge put them ahead 74-71 with two free throws with 37 seconds left, and finished with 26 points.

Chucky Hepburn hit two of three free throws for Wisconsin with 19.8 remaining, cutting the deficit to 74-73 as Verge fouled out.

CJ. Wilcher missed the front end of the bonus for Nebraska, but Hepburn – who beat No. 8 Purdue on Tuesday with a last-second 3-pointer – missed a 3-point try from the top right and the Huskers secured the rebound.

Nebraska played with leading scorer Bryce McGowens – Trey’s brother – who averages 17 points per game and injured his hand in a victory over Ohio State on Tuesday.

Derrick Waker added 15 points and Wilcher 10 as the Huskers closed with three consecutive victories.

Brad Davison scored 20 points for Wisconsin, which had won five in a row. Tyler Wahl and Chris Vogt added 13 apiece.

Wisconsin trailed by 12 midway through the first half. The Badgers rallied with a 12-2 run, going in front 49-47 on two free throws by Davison and were in the bonus for the final 16:18.

Verge tied it with a layin, but was called for a technical. Davison hit both free throws to start a string of eight consecutive points from the line to give Wisconsin a 57-49 lead with 13:40 left.

Wisconsin had been averaging only 8.6 turnovers per game, fewest in Division I. But the Badgers committed seven in the first 10 minutes as Nebraska surged to a 30-18 lead, hitting 12 of 21 shots.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: Nebraska could move into the No. 13 seed in the conference tournament with a win by Northwestern over Minnesota on Sunday evening.

Wisconsin: If Illinois wins Sunday, the Badgers would drop to the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Either way, much depends on Davis’ status.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Although the Badgers topped No. 8 Purdue 70-67 on Tuesday, the loss to Nebraska could drop them in the poll.

UP NEXT

Nebraska plays in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament on Wednesday.

Wisconsin plays Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament.