All the Way to the Bank

Josh Gasser called the first 39 minutes, 58 seconds of Wednesday's game at Michigan one of the worst of his career. With one heave, it became a game he'll never forget. The Badgers got little production outside of Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Jordan Taylor, but it was Gasser's banked 3-pointer at the buzzer that proved the difference in a 53-52 victory over Michigan Wednesday.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For a former high school quarterback, Josh Gasser should be used to getting hit from his blindside. Maybe that's what made the 3-point heave, the ensuing bear hug and takedown from teammate Jordan Taylor so easy to handle.

"I told him I was taking him down no matter what," Taylor said "I was tackling him."

As the horn sounded and the red lights around the basket came one, Gasser continued to admire his shot coming down from his apex. With a kiss off the glass and into the net, Gasser's 20 footer at the right wing helped No.12 Wisconsin escape with a 53-52 victory over Michigan Wednesday.

The victory allows Wisconsin (21-6, 11-4 Big Ten) to stay two games back of Ohio State and one game back of Purdue in the race for the Big Ten title and extends its winning streak to 10 games in the series.

"We knew they were one of the hottest teams in the league, if not the hottest," said senior Jon Leuer. "This is definitely a momentum-building win. It can turn the season into something special."

Trailing 52-50 with 30.8 seconds left and with Michigan (17-12, 7-9) having fouls to give, the Wolverines fouled four times to get the clock down to 5.4 seconds, setting up Gasser for the inbounds pass. Feeding Taylor at the top of the key, Taylor received an immediate double team and found Gasser, who has slipped underneath the defense, open on the perimeter with 1.4 seconds left.

"They switched and Josh rolled over the top, so I just tried to make a play going back to the middle," Taylor said. "Josh presented himself, through his arms straight in the air and he was hard to miss."

Gasser released the ball with 1.2 seconds on the clock, narrowly beating a charging Stu Douglass from the double team. From there, everybody seemed to have a different angle. UW Coach Bo Ryan knew it had to bank in and immediate drew a recollection to Brian Butch's game-winning three at Indiana Feb.08. Taylor thought it looked online and Gasser thought it was going to bank in.

As it turns out, all three of them proved right on the money.

"We just had one more bucket in us than they did," Ryan said. "Jordan just made a better play than their double team."

Calling Wednesday one of his worst games of the season, Gasser was barely visible in the first half. Although he played 16 minutes, he took only one shot, but committed two turnovers that led to four Michigan points.

After halftime, Gasser started to deliver, hitting a runner in the lane to tie the score at 50 and notched the biggest shot of his young career three minutes later.

"He didn't get rattled; that is the key," Ryan said. "He's played more games this year than his senior year of high school. He's been playing well."

Added Gasser: "Coach Ryan said it best, ‘You were bad in the first half and you made up for it."

After averaging 14 points last week and attempting three total 3-pointers, Taylor returned to form, finished with a game-high 20 points, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and contributing five assists and zero turnovers.

Leuer finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, giving him 507 rebounds for his career and his sixth double-digit rebounding game of the season, four of which have come in the last seven games. He also finished with three assists and zero turnovers.

Throw in the 13 points from Keaton Nankivil, the Badgers big three scored 84.9 percent (45 of 53) of the team's points.

"That's what they do, they are the leaders of our team in big games," Gasser said. "In tough situations, they stepped up and play at a high level. That's what they did tonight."

Despite the lack of balance, part of the reason Wisconsin was able to survive was its rebounding. Although having just a 32-30 edge in rebounds, Wisconsin grabbed nine offensive rebounds compared to Michigan's 2, and turned those into eight crucial points.

Deadpanned Ryan: "That's because our misses were so bad. Half of them were going over Michigan's head. I think we hurt the rims here today (and) they might want to check them."

Michigan got 16 points from freshman Tim Hardaway Jr., 12 points from Jordan Morgan and shot 48.8 percent, but the inexperience down the stretch seemed to catch up with them. Hardaway lost control of a jumper with 1:57 left, missing a chance to make it a two possession game, and Darius Morris missed the front end of a one-and-one situation, allowing the Badgers to set up the winning score.

"That was a tough one and as a basketball coach, you go through this a lot," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We did everything we could to win this game and just came up short."

The celebration that ensued appeared as if Wisconsin has clinched a spot in the Final Four, but the road away from the Kohl Center has been anything but joyous.

Shooting 15 percentage points lower from 3-point range on the road compared to home, Wisconsin shot only 36 percent from the field and went 8 of 29 from 3-point range. Taylor was 3 of 6 from the perimeter, Nankivil was 3 of 7 and the rest of the team was 2 of 16, but that included Gasser's winner that was set up by a key defensive stop.

Trailing by two, Gasser stymied Morris on the baseline and forced a difficult shot that did not draw iron and resulting in a shot clock violation. It was the second-biggest play of the night, setting the stage for the buzzer beater.

"You just have to make stops and make plays when they are available to make plays," Taylor said. "We definitely didn't run the best offense ever, but we made enough stops to get it done. In a game like that, a win is a win and we'll take it."


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