Madison, WI – The Purdue Boilermakers came off a tough loss at Michigan State, when Tyson Walker drilled a last second 3-pointer to defeat the Boilermakers 68-65. The Matt Painter led team would then have to travel to Madison Tuesday night for a chance to keep their regular season Big 10 title hopes alive with a win. The Wisconsin Badgers entered the matchup feeling confident, after they had just avenged their previous loss to Rutgers, with a win in New Jersey on Saturday.
The Kohl Center had plenty of energy from the opening tip, as the Badgers faithful came out fired up for this crucial Big 10 contest and the game went down to the wire. The Boilermakers’ Jaden Ivey had sunk a 3-pointer at the top of the key with 11 seconds remaining to tie the game at 67. Purdue had thought that they were headed to overtime until Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn hit a big time 3-pointer off the glass on a step-back with 1.5 seconds left. The shot would ultimately do it and the Badgers pulled off the win in dramatic fashion 70-67.
Purdue started the first half with the intent to jump out to a quick start offensively to silence the crowd off the bat. Their veteran guard Sasha Stefanovic helped with that gameplan, as he connected on three 3-pointers off curls around the arc and gave his team an early 11-4 advantage. Wisconsin combated that with a 10-0 run that was ignited by a pair of Hepburn 3-pointers. The two teams would battle back and forth throughout this first half with a quick pace. In previous years this up tempo pace would be out of rhythm for a Wisconsin team, but this year Greg Gard has been wanting to pick up the tempo due to the style of play that Johnny Davis brings. Under the 8:00 minute mark, Ivey broke his way into the game with a nice defensive play, when he disrupted the passing lane and went coast to coast for a transition layup to even the game at 23. The Badgers would then gain some momentum entering halftime, as Tyler Wahl hit a tough shot down low and Davis made a mid-range jumper to give their team a 33-25 lead with just under two minutes left in the half. Up to this point, Purdue had been double teaming Davis whenever he touched the ball and forced his teammates to make plays. Davis did not have as big of scoring numbers in the first half but made an impact rebounding and by finding open teammates. Wisconsin would take a 33-28 advantage entering the break. The game was fairly even in most statistical categories except from the free throw line. The Badgers shot 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, whereas the Boilermakers shot just 3-of-8 from the line, keeping critical points off the board.
The second half was a game of runs for both squads.. Near the 16 under timeout, the game was at 37-36 after a Mason Gillis 3 ball and a Zach Edey old fashioned 3-point play. Wisconsin threw a punch back with consecutive 3-point makes from Hepburn and Brad Davison. The Badgers then captured their biggest lead of the entire game when Davis attacked the basket and finished with great body control around the rim to give his team a 50-39 edge.
At this stretch of the game, Purdue knew that they must make an even harder approach defensively and that their key players must start to make plays. The Boilermakers answered that challenge and would go on a 14-2 run and regained the lead with 7:42 remaining (53-52). It was here that Ivey proved why he is considered a first team All American, as he displayed his elite quickness and driving ability to the rim on multiple occasions on isolation play types. It was clear that Painter either wanted the ball in his hands or in the low post for Edey to use his 7’4” body and the pair delivered in the final moments. Neither team would give an inch, as they’d trade baskets, with Wisconsin holding on to a close lead. With the game at 65-64, Davis would put his team up by three, with an off-balance deep jump shot off the backboard. The Boilermakers’ Edey got the ball right in his wheelhouse down low on the following possession but missed the easy shot. Davison would then get fouled and miss a front end of a 1 in 1, giving Purdue some life. Despite that clutch 3-pointer from Ivey, the Boilermakers left too much time on the clock for that Hepburn 3-pointer and suffered another heartbreaking defeat to the hands of Wisconsin.
The Badgers had multiple key players and were led by Hepburn, who finished with 17 points and made timely shots. Wahl (19 points, 5 steals) maneuvered his way over Purdue’s frontcourt for most of the night, while Davis scored 16 points and grabbed 8 boards. For Purdue, Ivey led the charge with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists while Edey contributed 17 points and nine rebounds. Purdue forward Trevion Williams had a quiet game, only scoring six points (2-of-8 FG) and certainly needed to be more productivity for Purdue to win.
Wisconsin (24-5, 15-4) clinched at least a share of the regular season Big 10 title with the epic win. They can claim an outright title with a win over Nebraska on Sunday. Purdue (24-6, 13-6) is now no longer in contention for the regular season title but can end the regular season on a high note with a win over in-state rival Indiana on Saturday.