The pupil nearly topped the teacher tonight as Wisconsin survived a scare from Milwaukee, downing the Panthers 60-54 in front of a sellout crowd of 10,143 at the U.S. Cellular Arena. They got more than their money's worth in this one as it was a game of runs both for and against the Badgers.
It took a game high 17 points by Jared Berggren, a career best 16 by Ryan Evans, and a huge late scoring run by Jordan Taylor for the 14th ranked Badgers to pull out this victory over a very feisty Panthers team.
Milwaukee opened up the scoring in the game on a layup by Ryan Allen to obviously go up 2-0. However that would be the final lead the Panthers would have as Wisconsin would work their way to doubling up Milwaukee at 14-7 and again doubling up the Panthers at 16-8 with 12:06 left. The Badgers would go on an 8-0 run at that point to take a 22-8 lead, their largest of the half with 6:35 remaining.
The Panthers refused to go away though as Milwaukee responded with a huge 12-4 run of their own over a 4 minute 57 second period to cut the Wisconsin lead to 26-20. Once again momentum would swing back the other way as Wisconsin responded with a 5 point run of their own, owning a 31-20 lead at the half.
Things were looking pretty good for Wisconsin at the half as they held the Panthers to only 20 points on 30.8% field goal shooting and Wisconsin would start the 2nd half out hot, building their largest lead of the game at 44-27 on a three pointer by Ryan Evans.
That bucket put Evans at 16 points for the game, coupled with 8 rebounds with 15:17 left in the game. However that would be the last of the points and rebounds for Evans. It also corresponded with a massive 16-1 run by Milwaukee over the next 5:50 of the 2nd half as the Badgers lead was cut to 45-43 with 9:27 left in the game.
The game would be tied by the Panthers at 48 a piece by the star of the game for the Panthers and the reason for the 2nd half run, forward Tony Meier. Meier scored all of his team high 15 points in the 2nd half.
Once again Wisconsin would respond to the challenge as Jared Berggren would hit a 3 pointer on the next possession, putting Wisconsin up 3 and the Badgers would never see the game tied up again.
Milwaukee would try to respond as Ryan Allen nailed a massive dunk following Berggren's 3, keeping the Panthers close. But great players play great in big situations and that's exactly what Jordan Taylor did.
After Allen's dunk took the game to 51-50 with 4:18 left Taylor took the game over, scoring the next 7 points for Wisconsin as he single handily put the game out of reach at 58-52 with 41 seconds left. Josh Gasser nearly blew things though, fouling Ryan Allen with 22 seconds left with the Badgers holding on to that 6 point lead. Allen would hit both free throws to cut it to to a 4 point lead, but Jared Berggren would put the final nails in the coffin, hitting 2 free throws of his own with 6 seconds left.
The biggest difference in this game came at the free throw line. During Milwaukee's huge run in the 2nd half their performance at the charity stripe prevented them from taking a lead and possibly pulling out the upset. For the game the Panthers were an awful 7 of 17 from the line (41.2%) while Wisconsin hit 16 of 20 (80%).
Wisconsin's defense once again pulled this game out, holding Milwaukee 10 points below their season average of 64 and making it the 2nd lowest point total of the season for the Panthers.
For their efforts, not only on the score sheet, but in total Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans are our co-Players of the Game. Berggren scored his game high 17 points to go along with 9 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal. Evans hit a career high of 16 points, but also added 8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 blocks.
Up next for the Badgers is a quick turnaround against Savannah State, so look for a full preview of that on Thursday morning.