The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers got a share of the Big Ten title on Sunday, but they didnâ€™t rest on their laurels on Thursday night. Instead they used a hot shooting first half to win 76-63 over Border Battle rival Minnesota.
Wisconsinâ€™s two biggest names werenâ€™t going to let the Badgers get out of Minneapolis without the ultimate dagger in the rivalry â€” the outright Big Ten championship. It was the programâ€™s 18th Big Ten title and the first since the 2007-08 season.
Senior forward Frank Kaminsky poured in 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting to lead the Badgers to the title in the rival barn (see what I did there). He also added seven assists and six rebounds in another Wooden Award-worthy performance.
His partner in crime, junior Sam Dekker, added a not-too-shabby 20 points to the winning effort as well. The 20-point duo also had some help from sophomore Nigel Hayes and his 12-point night.
Unlike the last opportunity on the road, Wisconsin started off hot against the Gophers, shooting the lights out from deep and from inside for most of the first half. The Badgers were shooting 7 of 10 from the field at one point and finished the half shooting
Kaminsky and junior Sam Dekker combined for 30 of the Badgersâ€™ 44 points in the first half alone, with the two combining to shoot 12 of 16 from the field and 3 of 5 from deep. Itâ€™s a good thing, as the Badgers werenâ€™t all hot the entire half.
Well, except for this SportsCenter worthy rebound, drive, foul and tomahawk dunk from Dekker:
Minnesota capitalized on it â€” turning a 20-point lead in to single digits in the final minutes of the half. However, UW responded in kind and went in to the half up 44-34.
The Gophers got the final bucket thanks to Andre Hollins hitting a three-point shot as the buzzer sounded. It mattered little on the momentum front, as UW
After shooting 7 of 9 from the field in the first half, Kaminsky followed it up with nine points in the second half and helped slam (literally) the door shut on the Gophers.
Both teams cooled off in the second half though, as the Badgers wound up shooting 1 of 8 from the field and Minnesota just 2 of 9 during a key stretch of the second half.
Wisconsin got out of the funk a bit thanks to senior guard Josh Gasser, who hit a three-pointer and had a great assist to Kaminsky for a power dunk inside to keep the Badgers up by double digits.
Those two plays seemed to spark life in to the Badgers, as they pulled the 10-point lead out to a comfortable lead and kept the hammer down to the final minute.
With a double-digit lead, Wisconsin was able to keep Minnesota from going the foul-and-pray route and clinched the title with that clutch play.
The Badgers end the regular season with a trip to Ohio State on Sunday, with the tip scheduled for a 3:30pm CT. The game can be seen on CBS.