After breezing through the first two games of Big Ten play, the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (15-1, 3-0) found themselves in a dogfight at home against Purdue (10-6, 2-1) on Wednesday night. While it wasnâ€™t easy or pretty, the Badgers found a way to win 62-55 and knock the Boilermakers out from the ranks of the unbeatenâ€™s in Big Ten play.
The win gave head coach Bo Ryan the program record for Big Ten wins at 159. Ryan currently owns the best winning percentage in Big Ten play of any head coach in the history of the league at .706 (159-66)
Purdue troubled Wisconsin by using its two 7-footers to run the offense through, as freshman Isaac Hayes (11) and veteran A.J. Hammons (11) combined for 22 points on 10 of 17 shooting on the night.
Yet, the Badgers werenâ€™t afraid to go up against Purdueâ€™s towering duo as they scored Â points in the paint, including a stretch of 27 of 33 points all coming inside the red area of the court. That, and keeping Purdue in foul trouble, helped negate an offense that had trouble getting going early on in the contest.
Wisconsin started off hot, getting an opening triple from Hayes, however it wasnâ€™t a sign of good things to come. Instead of feeding off the long ball from Hayes, the Badgers found themselves going ice cold from the field. It culminated in the Badgers making just two field goals ahead of the under-12 timeout.
UW is 2 of 10 from the field and trails Purdue 12-8 with 11:49 left.
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) January 8, 2015
After knocking down a season-high 12 three-pointers on Sunday night, the Badgers were about as cold as the weather from beyond the arc in the first half. UW shot just 2 of 11 from deep and were really only helped by making 7 of 9 free throw opportunities.
However the half wasnâ€™t a complete loss, as junior forward Sam Dekker went over the 1,000-point mark in emphatic fashion.
Dekker becomes the 39th member of the #Badgers 1,000-point club and the 17th player to do it in 3 seasons.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 8, 2015
It seemed to help wake up the late-arriving crowd and the Badgers offense overall. The Badgers were down just one at 21-20 after Dekkerâ€™s dunk with 4:49 left in the first half.
Wisconsin put up seven points to end the half andÂ Kaminksy, who missed his first two shots, ended the half with a half-high 10 points (3-7 field goals). It was a tie game 27-27 heading in to the second stanza as a result.
Purdue took advantage of itâ€™s advantage on the inside most of the first half, shooting 54.6 percent from the field and outrebounding the Badgers 15-11 in the half as well.
Wisconsin ended up being outrebounded 25-20 on the game, but held on for the win thanks to other advantages it incurred in the second half.
Kaminsky continued to put this team on his back in the second half, scoring 11 of his 21 points after the intermission. It was a good thing too, because the Badgers didnâ€™t get a lot of help from the rest of the frontcourt.
Hayes and Dekker combined for just 13 total points and four in the second half. All four came from the free throw line, as the duo combined to make zero field goals in the final half of the game.
Itâ€™s a game like this that reminds us all just how special this team is. This game was an easy loss in the past, but with more than one or two players capable of leading UW on the scoring front the Badgers can afford to have one or two of its best players have an off night and win the game.
Badger of the Game: Frank Kaminsky
This was an easy choice, as Kaminsky led the Badgers in scoring with a game-high 21 points and shot the best of any starter on a cold night outside and inside the Kohl Center. While the Badgers and Kaminsky didnâ€™t kill it on the rebounding side of things, the big man did at least have one block and a steal to his credit on the night.
Without his 21-point effort, the Badgers wouldâ€™ve been in some serious trouble at home against the Boilermakers.
Key Moment: 45-45
With the game tied at 45-45 and just under seven minutes to play, this game couldâ€™ve gone any number of ways. Instead of panicking, the Badgers went out and regained the lead and never looked back down the final 6:49 of the contest.
After a layup by A.J. Hammons made it 45-45, Wisconsin answered with four points from Kaminsky alone and took a 49-45 lead that would stand up over the final five-plus minutes of the contest. Without Kaminskyâ€™s two free throws and layup this game couldâ€™ve been very different given the narrow margins all game long.
Up Next: Sunday, Jan. 11 @ Rutgers; 5pm CT (BTN)