The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team, which faced the No. 22 Demon Deacons in the Big Ten-ACC challenge, held a lead only twice—at 2-0 and 62-60—in the fast-paced, tight-knit matchup, but remained within striking distance throughout.
In the waning minutes of the game, Wisconsin (4-1) whittled an 81-72 Wake Forest lead down to a one-point deficit at 89-88 with just five seconds left. Taylor and junior forwards Alando Tucker and Jason Chappell each hit a key 3-pointer in the final 2:52 to keep the Badgers in the game.
But Wisconsin was forced to send the Deacons (6-1) to the free-throw line four times in the last 27 seconds, where they were nearly flawless all night long. After a Tucker layup made it 83-80, Wake Forest senior guard Justin Gray made 6 of 6 from the charity stripe and freshman point guard Harvey Hale knocked down a pair to allow the Deacons to preserve their lead.
Wake Forest finished an incredible 26 of 29 from the charity stripe, while Wisconsin was 17 of 24.
Gray put up a career-high 37 points in 37 minutes — including a perfect 13 of 13 from the free-throw line — to lead a Wake Forest team that was 31 of 65 from the field.
Teammates senior forward Eric Williams and junior center Kyle Visser finished with 17 and 13 points, respectively, while senior forward Trent Strickland finished with 9 points and 10 boards. Visser also tallied seven rebounds, four blocks and five assists.
The win extended Wake Forest's home winning streak to 21 games. Wake Forest has won 51 of its last 52 home non-conference games.
Wisconsin trailed by as much as 10 twice, at 31-21 and 51-41.
Down 37-32 at the half, the Badgers received a big second half from Tucker to keep the Deacons on their toes.
Despite suffering an injury to his face in the first half and wearing a facemask early in the second half, Tucker collected 23 points after halftime to lead the Badgers.
Tucker finished with a team-best 27 points, but was just 10 of 27 from the floor. He now has 1,013 career points, becoming just the 30th player in school history to score at least 1,000 points.
Sophomore center Brian Butch recorded the game's only double-double, with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds. Butch, though, was forced to do his damage in just 26 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble. He sat between the 8:40 and 3:54 marks in the second half after collecting his fourth personal foul.
Williams' third and fourth fouls came with 17:47 left in the game, when he and UW guard Michael Flowers became tangled up as Williams grabbed an offensive rebound in a seemingly run-of-the-mill loose-ball play. Flowers was whistled for a foul, and Williams became incensed, confronting Flowers. Williams had to be restrained by his teammates and each player was called for a technical foul.
Williams did not return until the 9:21 mark, when the Badgers had taken their 62-60 lead. He proceeded to dominate UW in the paint, scoring eight points in the next 6:11.
The Badgers' post defenders struggled with Williams throughout the game, but he did turn the ball over six times.
All told Wisconsin lost the battle of the boards 45-36. The Badgers also gave up 42 points in the paint while scoring just 26.
UW's Taylor finished with 18 points, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, but he also had five of the team's 11 turnovers.
Chappell picked up a career-best 11 points in 24 minutes with his father, former Wake Forest basketball All-American Len Chappell, in attendance. Chappell hit two free throws with 9:21 remaining to give Wisconsin its 62-60 lead.