Watching Wisconsin come out with guns blazing had me on the edge of my couch last night even though I was catching the Big Ten Network replay of the game. I already knew which team had won. Regardless, Marcus Landry was dishing to a cutting Trevon Hughes and Jon Leuer was looking like Hakeem Olajuwon inside as Wisconsin built and maintained an eight- or nine-point lead in the game's first 13 minutes.
Then the Wolverines switched out of the 2-3 zone that the Badgers had shredded and into the 1-3-1. Wisconsin started throwing the ball out of bounds at times. And not only was Manny Harris active, but he was opening things up for his teammates offesnively. DeShawn Sims and C.J. Lee combined to score 14 points in a short span that saw Michigan take a 34-32 lead into the locker room.
So when UW put the clamps on Big Blue (only two points in the first 9:58 of the second half), my body decided it was lights out. Yeah, I missed out on how tight the game ended up. I missed Landry's continued clutch play, whether is be his passing (5 assts) or hard-earned 3-point plays. On the bright side, catching some shut-eye on the couch allowed me to bypass the shaky free throw shooting and an infuriating foul by Hughes.
Missing the drama of the 60-55 final just brought me back to earth. It was a game Wisconsin (18-10, 9-7) was supposed to win anyway. The Badgers have now won six of seven games since Leuer supplanted Keaton Nankivil as the fifth starter.
Besides the foul, Hughes somehow finished with zero assists and three turnovers. But Pop was an ultra-efficient 7-of-11 from the field in accumulating a game-high 19 points.
The win sets up one of the more anticipated rematches of the Big Ten season. When Minnesota ripped a win out of Wisconsin's grasp at the Kohl Center in mid-January, it sent the Badgers into a tailspin the likes of which Bo Ryan has never experienced in Madison before. The Gophers were riding high at 16-1. How times have changed.
Minnesota is only 4-7 since that fateful Thursday night, while Wisconsin has gone 6-5. Oddly, even with 20 wins, Minnesota may need this win more than Wisconsin. The victory over Louisville and at Wisconsin are the marquee feathers in Minnesota's cap, tempered by the team's soft non-conference schedule.
5. Kim Hughes - 806
6. Alando Tucker - 769
7. Joe Krabbenhoft - 719 (183)
Player - Career Off Rebs (Season Total)
1. Alando Tucker - 314
4. Sean Daugherty - 227
9. Willie Simms: 176
10. Marcus Landry: 173 (45)
Player - Career Blocks (Season Total)
3. Mike Wilkinson - 117
4. Kurt Portmann - 102
5. Marcus Landry - 97 (33)