The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team is tied with the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks in the tournament semifinals after a close win over Dayton in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday.
The Jayhawks entered the contest on the back of a 16-game winning streak dating back to last season, while the Badgers were hoping to pull off an upset and maintain their undefeated record this year.
In a back-and-forth game that featured several big drives by both teams, the Jayhawks won the nail-biter in overtime, 69-68.
Here’s a look back at Wisconsin’s last-second loss on Thanksgiving.
After an early three-point lead by Kansas, the Badgers went to work inside, with Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl connecting to give UW a 4-3 lead at the first media timeout.
After a timeout, Connor Essegian gave Wisconsin a quick layup off the bench on a beautiful layup from Tyler Wahl as the Jayhawks continued to struggle on offense. With the Badgers unable to generate much offense either, the two teams suffered a 6-6 tie going into the second media timeout.
Over the next few minutes, both teams will find an answer to the attack. Kansas forward Gradey Dick opened the scoring with a pair of 3-pointers for the Jayhawks, and then Chucky Hepburn and Connor Essegian combined for five points for the Badgers to make it 14-11 for Kansas.
After a free throw by Max Klemsit, 3-pointers by Kansas’ Jalen Wilson and Kevin McCullar within 30 seconds would force Greg Gard to take a timeout as the Jayhawks held an 8-point lead with less than eight minutes remaining. play in the first half.
Klemsit would help the Badgers answer with a corner 3, but Kansas would continue to add to their lead over the next few minutes as the Badgers missed 7 of 8 shots. At the next media timeout, the Jayhawks held a 26-15 advantage.
Makes by Isaac Lindsey, Max Klesmit and Tyler Wahl would help cut into the deficit, but a late 3-pointer by Gradey Dick would give Kansas a 33-20 halftime lead.
The Badgers would find some success on offense early in the second half. Wisconsin went in with Chucky Hepburn, Steven Crowle and Tyler Wahl sparking a 6-3 run to start the half.
However, a 3-pointer by Kansas’ Jalen Wilson and a two-minute scoring drought by the Badgers shortly after would keep the Jayhawks up 13 points with 15:52 remaining.
Connor Essegian responded with back-to-back threes after a short break to gain some momentum, and after Max Klemsit lined up for a layup on a steal, he would make it an 8-point game with just under 13 minutes remaining.
After free throws by Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn, as well as a layup by Carter Gilmore, Wisconsin was within three points with 10:30 on the clock.
Five points from Connor Essegian would fuel the Badgers’ comeback effort before Max Klesmit tied the game with a huge 3-pointer to make it 48-48 with eight minutes left.
Free throws from both teams would keep the score tied, but the Badgers took the lead on a layup by Carter Gilmore after a nice layup by Connor Essegian.
Jalen Wilson connected on two straight baskets to restore the lead for Kansas with five minutes remaining, and then Kevin McCullar hit a corner three to give the Jayhawks a 10-0 run and a 60-52 lead with 3:38 left. play.
After the final media timeout, Tyler Wahl absolutely took over for Wisconsin. The senior forward scored four straight baskets to give the Badgers a 61-60 lead with 49 seconds on the clock.
After a pair of free throws by Connor Essegian that extended Wisconsin’s lead to 63-60, Kevin McCullar connected on a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In OT, Tyler Wahl would come up with a huge three-point play with 1:35 left to give Wisconsin a narrow lead. The Jayhawks would regain a one-point lead when Jalen Wilson sank a pair of free throws, but the Badgers had the ball with 26 seconds left.
From there, Tyler Wahl would grab the lead back, but the Jayhawks would get a remarkable rebound from Bobby Pettiford at the buzzer to win 69-68.
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- Connor Essegian (Wisconsin)
Stats: 17 points (6-of-12 shooting), five rebounds and an assist in 31 minutes
With points again hard to come by, the freshman righty came through for the Badgers. Essegian played key minutes for Wisconsin after coming off the bench, going on a 12-2 run in the second half and finishing second on the team with 17 points.
The young guard played well on both ends of the floor and came up big in the second half with several rebounds and an impressive steal that came as the team generated some momentum. Essegian continues to be the biggest threat for Greg Gard and the Badgers this season.
Stats: 13 points (4-of-6 shooting), one rebound and two assists in 43 minutes
A day after coming up with the game-sealing block to beat Dayton, Klesmit put together another strong showing against Kansas. The Wofford transfer was gritty on both ends of the court and was extremely effective on offense on 2-of-3 attempts from deep.
Stats: 23 points (8-of-19 shooting), 10 rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes
Tyler Wahl had an off day on Thursday. The senior forward put the team on its back late in regulation with a personal scoring drive to send it into overtime after trailing by eight. In the end, Wahl finished with 23 points and was 7 of 8 from the free throw line with three steals and another double-double.
Stats: 29 points (9-of-20 shooting) and 14 rebounds in 40 minutes
The best player on the court was Jalen Wilson. Wilson led all scorers with 29 points and also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. In a game where Kansas needed points, Wilson consistently provided the scoring.
The first half was eerily similar to how the Badgers have played all year. Defensively, Wisconsin was superb, holding the Jayhawks to 1-of-13 shooting to start the game and allowing just 69 total points in overtime to a Kansas team that averaged 80 points per game.
However, the Badgers struggled to score in the first half, specifically missing several opportunities on goal. Despite their early shooting woes, Wisconsin went on a decisive 12-2 run in the second half that shifted the momentum of the game. Connor Essegian and Max Klesmit made big shots to help tie the game after being in a 13-point hole at halftime. The run was fueled by their defense, forcing five turnovers in four minutes of action and holding the Jayhawks scoreless for over two minutes.
Finally, Tyler Wahl stepped up when the Badgers needed him too. While Kansas came up with a miraculous finish to avoid the upset, Wisconsin played well against the reigning national champions and that’s remarkable. Trailing by as many as 13 at one point, the Badgers put up an impressive fight to not only make it to overtime, but to hold on to the lead with seconds remaining.
Wisconsin proved on Thursday that it can play with anyone.
Photos from the game
With the loss, Wisconsin will compete for third place at noon on Friday. The Badgers will face the underdog USC and Tennessee, with the game televised on ESPN2.
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