After a tough 2-for-9 shooting effort in Sunday's win against Michigan State, which included 1-for-8 from 3-point range, senior Ben Brust was able to swing the pendulum back in his direction in a big way, bouncing back to lead the No. 21 Badgers over the Gophers, 78-70, Thursday night.
Brust finished with a team-high 20 points, coming just one point shy of his season high, and going 5-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
"They felt how they've normally felt my whole career, besides the last game before that," Brust said. "Definitely good to see the first one go down and it's never a bad thing to make all the ones you take."
Brust had a little momentum after making his only perimeter shot with 3:37 to go against the Spartans in a tight game. Before that, though, he had made just 3-of-14 in his previous two games.
Brust is not the first UW shooter to have a shooting funk this season. Sophomore Sam Dekker had a five-game span in which he hit just 2-of-18 on 3-pointers. Dekker broke out of it by hitting seven of his next 13 3-point attempts.
The Badgers almost live-and-die from the perimeter at times this season. So when Wisconsin's other shooters are making their 3-pointers, it's certainly made things easier on Brust.
"I mean I don't want to be left out, that's for sure," said Brust, who is shooting 34.7 percent from 3-point range this season. "It was the same type of looks. I just shot it with confidence. You've just [got to] have shooter's amnesia. Forget the last one, the next one's going in."
Like most of the roster, Brust was less than thrilled with his performance the first time Wisconsin played Minnesota. In an 81-68 loss at Williams Arena, Brust scored only eight points and missed 4 of his 5 3-pointers.
Brust was also active on the boards, pulling down six rebounds and grabbing one steal. But Ryan and Brust both agreed defensively he has a few areas to improve on.
"He shot it well, needless to say," Ryan said. "And he hustles. There's still some things defensively that he's got to sure up for us to be better, so if you wanted me to gush I wasn't going to do it. But he did shoot it well."
On a few occasions Brust was slow getting back in transition defense when he could have slid in front of a Minnesota player to force a more difficult shot.
Brust also had a few problems at the free throw line. Entering the game shooting 92.6 percent from the free throw line, Brust finished 6-for-8, but missed a pair of free throws in the final 64 seconds.
Sitting alone in fourth place in the Big Ten and trailing the two Michigan schools by three with six games to go, Brust has already shifted his focus to the next 40 minutes, which will be Sunday at Ann Arbor.
"I'm done looking at (the standings)," Brust said. "I just think we need to focus on whoever's next for us. That's Michigan at Michigan. It's an opportunity to play a really good team on the road and I'm excited for that."