It was another typical night for the Wisconsin Badgers. It was another game that went to the wire. Unfortunately, the Badgers fell in another close game. Tonight, they fell to Purdue 63-61. Max Klesmit led the Badgers with 19 points on 7-11 shooting. Chucky Hepburn also added 13 on 5-12 shooting. Wisconsin continues to squander chances to solidify their NCAA Tournament spot. Here are three takeaways from tonight’s gut-wrenching loss.
Max Klesmit Was Fantastic
If junior Max Klesmit didn’t have the game he did tonight. Wisconsin would have gotten blown out of the gym. At times, Klesmit has been passive on that side of the ball and I’m not sure why. He was a 15 point a game scorer at Wofford so he has the ability to do it. He was making baskets behind the three and at the rim. He’s turning into a respectable scorer that opposing teams need to circle on the scouting report.
Purdue had their best defender Ethan Morton on Connor Essegian a majority of the night. Rightfully so as well. However, late in the game, Morton switched on to Klesmit. Klesmit had a chance to hit a half court shot to win the game, but it came up short. No matter how this season ends up, it’s encouraging Wisconsin has another guy that can score when needed.
Wisconsin’s Defense Was Really Good
I thought the Badgers defense was solid tonight. Yes Purdue ended up shooting 50% from the field, but they held Zach Edey to only 17 points and allowed Purdue to only shoot 4-19 from three.
The difference in this game? Free throws. Purdue got 18 shots at the line. Granted they only made 11 of them, but Wisconsin only went to the line five times and made them all. Give Purdue’s defense credit, but for how physical the Big Ten is every night, that seems a little odd.
Purdue did everything they needed in the stretch. After a 56-55 lead, Purdue made seven of their last eight free throws. Wisconsin did everything on their end, but came up short. Wisconsin’s execution late in games have been brutal at times this year. Tonight was much better and a veteran Purdue team did their part.
It’s Time For The Badgers To Go On A Run
Greg Gard mentioned after the game he was frustrated this team isn’t getting rewarded as of late. I would agree with that. Just in the last four days, they saw a desperation three go in to force overtime and took one of the best teams in the country to the wire and did almost everything they were suppose to do.
Sunday at Minnesota the Badgers absolutely can’t lose. There is also a good chance they see Minnesota on Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament. They can’t lose that either. Unfortunately, Wisconsin squandered two great chances to essentially get them into the tournament. It’s fair to question how this team will respond. I’m sure they are frustrated right now and I don’t blame them.
The run to the postseason is now. I do think the Badgers have to win three more games to be safely in and two to be sweating on Selection Sunday. We will see how they respond. Tip time Sunday is 6:30 PM in Minneapolis.
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