The Wisconsin Badgers were (and still are) in a tight spot in the Big Ten. At 1-3 entering today's game, every game became a must-win for a team that has dropped back-to-back conference games at home to Iowa and Michigan State. A blowout loss to the Michigan Wolverines the next week where almost no shot could fall Wisconsin's way followed.
The Badgers traveled to Mackey Arena to take on the Purdue Boilermakers, where they had won just twice in 39 visits. They got off to a ridiculously hot start, at one point shooting 89% from the field and 83% from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, they suffocated Purdue early, holding the Boilermakers below 20% shooting at the 13-minute mark and limiting Purdue to just 22 first-half points.
Wisconsin took an early 3-2 lead, then stretched it to 6-2 and then 9-2. Wisconsin's furious start, combined with Purdue's dreadful shooting, saw the Badgers take a huge early lead on the Boilers.For the Purdue faithful, the shooting simply could not get any worse, but the Boilermakers missed multiple FTs in the first half, all of which came back to haunt them later on. The Badgers at one point led 22-4 in Mackey, but the Boilermakers wouldn't remain cold all night and rallied to make it 26-14. But the Badgers went to the free throw line twice and doubled up the Boilermakers 30-14, prompting Matt Painter to spend timeouts in the hopes of stymieing Wisconsin's crazy run.
But all good things for Wisconsin eventually came to an end, and the Badgers ended the half going 0 for 8 from beyond the arc after starting off 5 of 6. The Boilermakers managed 8 more points before the break, but they couldn't convert their final shots before the half. Wisconsin went into the half with a 12-point lead.
Purdue refused to die on the Badgers and a 9-0 run brought them back into the game midway through the 2nd. But Wisconsin answered that run with two huge threes, one by Mike Bruesewitz and another by Ben Brust, making the margin 9 points.
Wisconsin led 58-49, but Matt Painter's Boilermakers simply would not go away, cutting the margin to 61-57 with 19 seconds remaining in regulation and then 65-62 after a wild three by Robbie Hummel. In the end, Purdue ran out of timeouts and made baskets, and Jordan Taylor's made FT's with 1.4 remaining sealed Purdue's fate. The Badgers brought Purdue's 26-game home court winning streak to a brutal end and improved to 3-37 all-time in Mackey Arena.
Wisconsin's furious run was largely due to the excellent starts by every player not named Jordan Taylor, who was scoreless through most of the first half and reached double-digits scoring primarily due to free throws (Taylor was 8 of 10 from the line). Mike Bruesewitz made all four of his attempts from beyond the arc and 5 Badgers scored in double figures, including Ryan Evans and Josh Gasser. All told, a team that had struggled horrifically shooting the ball over its 3-game losing streak had almost nothing go wrong tonight.
Purdue was a polar opposite. The Boilermakers at one point had just 2 made FG attempts and finished the night shooting 34% from the floor. Robbie Hummel in particular had a dreadful night, making just 5 of his 17 FG attempts and 3 of 8 from downtown. Hummel had just 3 rebounds and 2 assists, and missed both of his free throw attempts on the day. Terone Johnson, who had struggled horribly from the free throw line (shooting just 25% from the stripe), somehow made 6 of 8 attempts and had 7 offensive rebounds (most of which came as a result of him cleaning up after his own misses). Johnson led Purdue in scoring for the 1st time all season, and may or may not have shaken the demons that have plagued him from the line all year long.
Wisconsin improves to 2-3 in Big Ten play, and snaps Purdue's 26-game home winning streak in the process. The Boilermakers fall to 3-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. This is the only time that the Badgers will play the Boilermakers this year unless the teams face off in the Big Ten Tournament.