Notes: Figuring Out the Finish
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Notes: Figuring Out the Finish

Junior guard Ben Brust earns his first career Big Ten player of the week honor and Wisconsin - ranked No.20 in the AP poll - gets ready to head to Minnesota on Thursday.

MADISON - The list of game-winning heroes for Wisconsin under head coach Bo Ryan always seems to expand on a yearly basis.

Sophomore guard Traevon Jackson added his name to a list that included Freddie Owens, Alando Tucker, Kammron Taylor, Michael Flowers Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor in January when he hit a bucket as the shot clock expired in the waning seconds to beat Minnesota.

Junior guard Ben Brust didn't have that much time Saturday, but his halfcourt heave as time expired to send the game into overtime against No.3 Michigan has been replayed countless times over the weekend. Wisconsin ended up winning 65-62, a 3-point difference created by a Brust three with 39.6 seconds left.

"I think the guys that have hit those shots for us over the years have been confident young men," said Ryan on the conference's weekly teleconference. "Ben Brust thinks he can make a shot even when he is outside the building."

No.20 Wisconsin (17-7, 8-3 Big Ten), which is ranked for the first time in 12 weeks, travels to Minnesota (17-7, 6-5) Thursday to play the reeling Gophers, who dropped out of the AP poll following a second straight loss. Minnesota has lost six of eight since starting 15-1 and now will have to deal with the conference's co-player of the week.

Brust earned his first career award, and UW's first since Taylor the week of January 23, 2012, after his Michigan performance and netting a game-high 18 points in a double-overtime win against Iowa Wednesday, adding six boards in 45 minutes of action.

Brust is averaging 11.2 points per game and a team-best 10.5 points per game during Big Ten play. The junior is also leading the Badgers in assists (63), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.17) charges taken (8) and is tied for the team lead in steals (24).

Brust ranks seventh in the conference in 3-point field goals made (52) and eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.400), but Ryan was quick to credit his teammates for setting up his looks, including Brust's halfcourt shot.

"A lot of times they'll get a bucket as a result of a great pass," said Ryan. "Mike Bruesewitz delivered the ball on a dime to Ben Brust in this one … It's still about the execution at the time. I mean, come on, how many times can Ben Brust turn around with one dribble and make that shot? It's not going to happen a lot, so I am a realist, but there are things that can lead to putting you in position to make those shots."

Second Guessing

Both Ryan and Michigan coach John Beilein fell under the microscope for how their teams handled the final seconds in regulation and overtime.

Ryan was criticized for not following Tim Hardaway prior to his 3-point make in the final seconds of regulation, although replays showed Bruesewitz attempted to foul with no whistle being blown.

Beilein was criticized for not putting a man on Bruesewitz, who had a perfect alley to heave the ball to Brust at midcourt to set up the winning shot.

"It's almost like a defensive coordination; are you going to blitz the quarterback and play single coverage or double team the first pass," Beilein said. "We were trying to double team the first pass. It obviously didn't happen."

Beilein added that Michigan has played zone and man-to-man defense in the past when the situation has come up. Working that situation in practice Sunday, Michigan put a man on the inbounder with one-on-one coverage only to have Matt Vogrich, who was substituting for Brust, get the exact same look. Beilein didn't answer whether Vogrich made the shot or not.

"It's difficult to stop a half court shot," said Beilein. "We were focusing very much on fouling at the time. We couldn't get either one done."

In the final minute of overtime, both coaching staffs appeared to have issues with their substitution patterns, or at least the personnel being put in the game.

During a timeout following a foul by Trey Burke on Jared Berggren with 13.5 seconds left, Ryan Evans – a 42.5 percent free throw shooter and 1-for-4 in the game to that point – checked into the game after talking to a UW assistant with Ryan occupied with an official. It appeared freshman Sam Dekker was going to check in, but Dekker just had come out of the game and couldn't re-enter until after the next dead ball.

Ryan jumped around the issue following the game and stood up for Evans again Monday, saying the senior's explosiveness around the basket had the ability to draw fouls and get UW to the line to try and ice the game.

"The fact that he was open and Mike found him with a really good pass, who is to say Ryan isn't going to step up and hit the free throw?" Ryan said. "In our end line out-of-bounds play with what we had called, Ryan was to draw the defense, get the screen and roll to the opposite block. Usually that's the position on that end line out of bounds that's taken away, but he was open."

Beilein was equally as confused. As Berggren approached the free throw line as if he was preparing to shoot, Beilien brought in the 6-10 Mitch McGary for 6-5 Cavis Levert to rebound a potential miss off the bonus.

In reality, Beilein and his staff thought the Wolverines had committed their seventh team foul the play before, thus sending Berggren to the line.

"Coming out of the timeout, we thought we had already given our last foul," said Beilein. "We knew we had fouls to give, we were trying to get there and get a quick substitution.

"When you are that late in the game and you aren't shooting one-and-one, everybody is sort of surprised, and same thing for us."

Berggren in the League?

Through 24 games, Berggren leads Wisconsin in points per game (11.9) and blocks (46) while being second on the team in rebounds (6.8) and shooting percentage (48.4 percent). Lauding his work in the classroom and his want to get better as a player, Ryan can see an opportunity for the senior in the NBA.

"He's coming into his own right now," said Ryan. "I know he's done a lot of good things for our team. I know his teammates count on him a lot. That's pretty important in your development when your teammates are looking for you to make certain things happen.

"I believe any time you are a big who has some skill with the ball, shooting, can put it a bounce or two on the floor, which was exhibited Saturday, I believe so. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I think he definitely has a chance (in the NBA)."