NASSAU, Bahamas – The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team was unable to overcome Kansas’ stellar offensive presence, ending the Badgers’ hopes of a Battle 4 Atlantis title shot.
The No. 3 Jayhawks built their lead to as many as 15 points in the second half, but a late offensive surge from the Badgers tied the game at 48-48 with just over eight minutes remaining.
Tyler Wahl went on a 6-0 run to give UW its first lead of the second half at 61-60 with 49 seconds left, but Kansas’ Kevin McCullar hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to force overtime.
Wahl scored five points in overtime, including a layup with 20 seconds left to put UW (4-1) up 68-67. Kansas (6-0) answered once more when Bobby Pettiford hit a last-second layup to win 69-68.
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Things looked good early in the game as the Badgers defense gave the Jayhawks some trouble. Once Kansas started shooting, there wasn’t much UW could do, and Kansas took a 33-20 lead into halftime.
Wahl scored 14 points in the second half en route to a team-high 23 points on the day. Connor Essegian and Max Klesmit were the only two other Badgers to reach double figures, finishing with 17 and 13. The Badgers shot 38.7% from the field.
Kansas’ Jalen Wilson led all players with 29 points as the Jayhawks matched the Badgers’ 38.7% shooting percentage.
UW will play for third place against either Tennessee or USC at noon Friday.
Here are three things that stood out:
Kansas pulls away in the first half
UW’s defense was strong, holding Kansas to 2-for-16 shooting until the game’s second media timeout. The Jayhawks offense woke up after Gradey Dick hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the run.
Wilson and Kevin McCullar went a combined 7-for-17 to help the Jayhawks build their 13-point halftime lead. Wilson led the team with 10 points, followed by McCullar and Dick with nine. The closest the Badgers got in the first half were Essegian and Klesmit, both with six points before halftime.
The Jayhawks were held to an uncharacteristic 37.5%, but limited UW to 30.8% in the first half.
Essegian moves again
Kansas ran away with the game in the second half as Essegian hit a clutch 3-pointer to cut the Jayhawks’ lead to eight points with 14:25 remaining. The play immediately followed a defensive play in which the rookie fouled Kansas’ Dajuan Harris.
Essegian grabbed a steal and fouled out to give UW a chance on offense. He forced Kansas’ KJ Adams to lose control of the ball on the next defensive possession, forcing another Kansas turnover.
He hit back-to-back 3-pointers and a jumper to pull Wisconsin within just one point with 8:55 left in regulation. Essegian’s pass to Carter Gilmore in the paint gave UW its first lead of the second half at 52-50.
Essegian grabbed a big defensive rebound with 23.9 left in regulation and then made a pair of free throws to give UW a 63-60 lead in the final minute of regulation.
Hepburn continues to fight
Chucky Hepburn may have scored earlier in Wednesday’s win over Dayton, but his so-called “off day” has now stretched to three games.
He tried to lift the ball for the overtime winner, but the buzzer sounded when he didn’t reach. It was similar to when Hepburn beat Purdue last season.
Hepburn added his first two points nine minutes into the game, but would only add four more by the end of overtime. He shot 2-9 from the field, hitting his only 3-point attempt of the day. He also led the Badgers with three of their six turnovers — many of which were uncharacteristic for the sophomore.
Since UW’s win over UW-Green Bay on Nov. 15, Hepburn is now 5-for-28.
Badgers fans are answering the call for a nickname for Wisconsin’s breakout freshman
Madison microwave oven.
It’s hot in a hurry
— Craig Smith (@smithcp1) November 24, 2022
— Kevin Frick (@KevinFrick12) November 24, 2022
It rolls off the tongue
Connor Threesegian. 👌👌👌
— BigCat5969 (@TylerBouressa) November 24, 2022
Reaching for the sky
Been there, done that
— brad davison fan (@BrewPackBadgers) November 24, 2022
He spread his wings
Connor “condor” essegian
— Cris Ferre (@badgeryoda) November 24, 2022
This is the player you are looking for
— Doug Clemann (@DougClemann) November 24, 2022
Big shoes to fill
— Jimmy Lemke (check) (@JimmyLemke) November 24, 2022
It’s a little too long
— Spencer (@ST960517) November 24, 2022
The goal is to get extra credit
Essegian “Surgeon” (Surge),
PG ammo (Smartbombma)
— Steve Kuziej (@SteveKuziej) November 24, 2022