Wisconsin Beats No. 3 Michigan in OT Thriller, 65-62
Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. thought he hit the game-winning shot with 2.4 seconds remaining. Wisconsin's Ben Brust showed him otherwise.
The Badgers guard took an inbound pass with time running out Saturday, dribbled a little past midcourt and hoisted up a shot eerily reminiscent of Gordon Hayward's near-make in the 2010 national championship game.
The difference between Brust and Hayward is that Brust's shot went in and sent the Badgers to overtime, where they pulled off a 65-62 victory over the shell-shocked Wolverines.
Brust finished with 14 points and talked about his memorable shot after the game (per ESPN's Tom Lea):
Ben Brust: 'It's something I'll remember forever. I'm sure a lot of people will, too.' #Badgers— Tom Lea (@ESPNTomLea) February 9, 2013
Wisconsin won despite another brilliant performance from Trey Burke. The Wolverines guard kept his team in the contest, scoring 19 points and adding four assists in a valiant effort.
Though the final minutes don't indicate it, the teams trudged through a mostly uneventful first half. Wisconsin went ahead by as many as nine midway through the half, but the Wolverines quickly went on a run of their own to keep the score consistently within one or two possessions.
Two late buckets by Burke eventually put Michigan into the lead for the first time since the 17:12 mark in the first half. Those shots were just the second and third field goals of the day by the Wolverines' star point guard, but they gave Michigan a 29-28 lead at the half.
However, Wisconsin mostly controlled the first 20 minutes. The teams played at the Badgers' legendarily slow pace, with their stout defensive pressure limiting the Wolverines' penetration and their sharp shooting keeping the transition plays to a minimum.
Bo Ryan's teams have never won and will never win a basketball beauty contest. His squads play ugly, hope to dictate the pace, knock down their shots and win close games.
In the second half, though, Wisconsin proved it could play at an up-tempo pace. From the opening pass of the second half, the Wolverines came out firing. Burke and Mitch McGary traded buckets early on, forcing Wisconsin to pick up its pace to stay in the game.
And the Badgers did, thanks mostly to the strong play of Ryan Evans inside. Evans scored six of Wisconsin's first 11 points in the second half, keeping the score close before his teammates finally started to chip in.
Once the rest of the Badgers started contributing some buckets, the game went into total deadlock mode. Michigan and Wisconsin stayed within one score of each other for nearly nine minutes until a Hardaway Jr. jumper put the Wolverines ahead 51-47.
Michigan would ultimately go up as many as six points but could never put the game away. Wisconsin kept hanging in the contest, and Brust's three-pointer sent the game to overtime.
If this isn't the game of the year, folks, we can only look forward to what tops it.
Brust's half-court buzzer-beater obviously sent Twitter into a tizzy. Here is a look at the best tweets following the shot, courtesy of a myriad of sources around the web:
Anything you can do, Ben Brust can do better. Wow.— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) February 9, 2013
BEN BRUST for 3! COUNT IT!!!!!— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) February 9, 2013
Michigan wanted the game to end in regulation. Ben Brust had other plans. #MICHvsWIS— ESPN (@espn) February 9, 2013
One of the reasons Wisconsin was able to stay in the game in the first half was the strong play of Sam Dekker. The freshman forward finished with 12 points and five rebounds, but dropped nine of those points in his first 10 minutes of play. Evan Flood of 247Sports noticed Dekker's early greatness:
Sam Dekker came to play today. He's got 9 points in 10 minutes for the #badgers— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) February 9, 2013
Scott Bell of the Dallas Morning News was simply amused at what a perfect fit Ryan is for Wisconsin—but not for the reason you may assume:
Bo Ryan is the perfect fit at Wisconsin. No other coach in the nation so perfectly resembles the mascot of the team he coaches.— Scott Bell (@sbell021) February 9, 2013
If Michigan wants a reason the game stayed close for so long, it starts with free throws. The Wolverines attempted just two shots from the line on Saturday and didn't take one until midway through the second half, per ESPN Stats & Information:
Michigan's Trey Burke shooting his team's first free throw of the game against Wisconsin...with 12:08 left in the 2nd half.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 9, 2013
Though the Badgers' win will ultimately be remembered for Brust's shot, Jared Berggren also had a brilliant dunk to tie the game down the stretch. Benjamin Worgull of BadgerNation.com was ready for Burke's posterization:
Hey Trey Burke, Jared Berggren just put you on a poster.— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) February 9, 2013
Brust may be the hero on Saturday, but it was a team effort that gave Wisconsin its critical Big Ten victory.
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