It was not pretty. It was a battle from the opening tip. At the end of the day, Wisconsin prevailed despite shooting 33% for the game. After a 61-58 road win at Oregon, Badgers Basketball is headed to the NIT semifinals in Las Vegas. Max Klesmit led the Badgers with 18 points. Chucky Hepburn struggled all game but hit a massive three to give the Badgers the lead for good. He ended the night with 12 points. Here are three takeaways from tonight’s win:
Klutch Klesmit Does It Again
What a pickup junior Max Klesmit has been for Badgers Basketball. He’s shown he can be the leader of this team and is developing the clutch gene players like Bronson Koenig and Trevon Jackson had.
Tonight, when the Badgers were down two with less than two minutes left, Klesmit hit a massive three that gave the Badgers the lead, completing a comeback that had the Badgers down 45-37 after a 10-0 Oregon run.
Max Klesmit with a huge three-pointer in front of Wisconsin's bench as the Badgers retake the lead at 56-55 with 1:32 remaining. Klesmit with 16 points
— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) March 22, 2023
It was also Klesmit who made two free throws with two seconds left to give Wisconsin a 61-58 lead. He continues to make plays down the stretch. When Wisconsin needs a basket, Klesmit has shown they can go to him.
Badgers Basketball was Horrible At the Rim
I have to give a ton of credit to Oregon. The Ducks had eight blocks on the night, making life miserable for the Badgers Basketball team all game. After having their way with Bradley and Liberty, it was a different story tonight.
While that plays a role, Wisconsin was also horrible at finishing at the rim. At one point in this game, Wisconsin was 4-15 at the rim. It’s been a problem all season for this team, and it doesn’t make sense why it happens and why it continues to happen.
Tyler Wahl was really bad for the Badgers, as was Steven Crowl. Wahl was 1-9 for the game, and Crowl was 4-10. It would really benefit a player like Wahl to stay another year because he needs to develop a jump shot. While he is crafty and good in the paint, teams are ready to defend it, and there’s only so much he can do. He becomes a liability on offense when he’s struggling at the rim.
This Team Is Being Rewarded For Their Hard Work
Greg Gard mentioned after the Purdue game that he wanted to see his players be rewarded. They were knocking on the door to make a run the entire month of February but ultimately fell short of the NCAA Tournament. Credit this team as well, as they have embraced this tournament. It would have been easy to mail it in. Unfortunately, there’s a good chunk of Badger fans that didn’t even want this team to take an NIT invite.
Wisconsin struggled shooting free throws and paint play all regular season. In the NIT, Badgers Basketball has been much better at the line. While they only shot 67% at the line as a team in the regular season, they have shot almost 90% as a team in the NIT and were 12-13 from the line tonight. When you can make free throws and establish yourself in the paint, good things will happen for this team.
Up Next for Badgers Basketball
Wisconsin will head to Las Vegas for the NIT semifinals. They will take on the North Texas Mean Green in the first semifinal. North Texas beat Oklahoma State 65-59 in overtime. Tip time for this game will be 6 PM on ESPN.
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