Badgers take Big Ten lead with win over Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Johnny Davis scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, and No. 13 Wisconsin took over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten Conference with a 66-61 victory over Rutgers on Saturday night.
Brad Davison added 14 points, Chucky Hepburn had 13 and Tyler Wahl had 11 as the Badgers (23-5, 14-4) opened a game lead in the conference over No. 4 Purdue, which lost to Michigan State earlier in the day.
Wisconsin will host Purdue on Tuesday, and the Badgers won the earlier meeting.
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Geo Baker had 16 of his 19 points in the second half to lead Rutgers (16-12, 10-8), but missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with four seconds to play.
Ron Harper Jr. added 15 points for the Scarlet Knights, who have now lost three in a row after a four-game winning streak — all against ranked teams.
Trailing by 11 at the half, Rutgers rallied in the final 20 minutes and took its first lead at 51-50 on a foul-line jumper. The lead changed hands before Davis, who was frustrated by non-calls most of the game, drove the lane for a layup with 5:39 to play for a 56-55 edge. Hepburn would add a 3-pointer less than a minute later and Wisconsin led 59-55.
A layup by Wahl after a free throw by Rutgers' Cliff Omoruyi made it 61-56, but Rutgers never got closer than 63-61 after Harper hit a 3-pointer with 28 second to play. A free throw by Wahl five seconds later gave Rutgers on last shot, but Baker missed it.
Wisconsin built a 33-23 halftime lead, and it was Davison and Hepburn who carried the load. Davison hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points, while Hepburn had 10. The Scarlet Knights made only nine baskets in first 20 minutes and did not make a 3-pointer. They also missed four free throws, with two at the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.
Wisconsin: Will likely get a very high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers: Needs a win or two next week to assure itself a second straight NCAA trip.
Wisconsin: Hosts No. 4 Purdue on Tuesday.
Rutgers: At Indiana on Wednesday.
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