The Minnesota Golden Gophers gave the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers a scare on Wednesday night but a couple of late shots helped the Badgers escape with a 68-67 victory.
The Badgers opened the game by utilizing their size. With Stephen Crowl (20 points, seven rebounds) and Tyler Wahl (12 points, nine rebounds) leading the way, Wisconsin doubled up Minnesota in points in the paint (24-12) and owned a 17-9 advantage on the glass.
Minnesota would counter with their scoring punch on the perimeter. Jamison Battle started the game hot, knocking down six of his eight shots in the first half. It was the start of a strong night, as he scored a team-high 17 points.
E.J. Stephens also answered the call, scoring 13 points on the night to help Minnesota go into halftime down 38-36. But after Stephens picked up his fourth foul with 10:49 to go in the second half, it was time for Payton Willis to take over.
Returning after missing Saturday's win over Northwestern, Willis got off to a slow start. But a pair of 3-pointers with just under five minutes to go helped the Gophers tie the game at 59.
The Gophers and Badgers exchanged buckets before Johnny Davis fouled out with 2:35 to go. But Wisconsin scored on two straight possessions to take a 66-62 lead. After Willis made a lay-up to make it a one-possession game, a missed lay-up by Chucky Hepburn was kicked out to Brad Davison with 23 seconds left.
Minnesota fouled quickly and Davison knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 68-64. The Gophers tried to set up a quick bucket for Battle but Wisconsin's defense tightened up and forced a turnover to effectively put the game away.
Minnesota (13-13, 4-13 Big Ten) will be back in action when they host Indiana on Sunday afternoon.