Badgers Grind Out Gophers

Behind five Badgers producing double-digit scoring outputs and a 16-3 run to end the game, No.15 Wisconsin is able to seperate from the pesty Gophers.

MADISON - After Wisconsin's Michael Flowers hit a three-pointer with just under six minutes remaining in the game, Minnesota men's basketball coach Tubby Smith had enough and called a 30-second time-out.

Flowers' dagger of a shot capped off a 7-0 Badgers' run that helped Wisconsin (21-4 overall, 11-2 Big Ten) break away for a 65-56 win over Minnesota (15-9, 5-7) Saturday afternoon.

All of the progress Smith saw his team make in the previous 35 minutes of the game had started to dwindle away. And with it, so did Minnesota's chances of knocking off Wisconsin.

"I thought we came ready to play today, unlike we did in Minneapolis," said Smith of the Feb. 3 match-up between the two teams in which Wisconsin won 63-47. "We did some good things, we passed the ball better, we took care of the ball better."

But none of it mattered once the Badgers' went on their 7-0 barrage in the late stretch of the game.

"There was a stretch there where we couldn't score or get our shots to drop," Smith said. "That hurt us."

All game long, Wisconsin was just waiting for that moment when things would click.

It didn't happen in the first half as free throws allowed Minnesota to stick around and take a small lead before Brian Butch hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the half to give Wisconsin a 27-26 lead.

It didn't happen at the beginning of the second half, either, as the Gophers came out shooting as if they were in a three-point contest.

"Maybe we should shoot more threes because we're certainly not consistent in making our lay-ups," Smith said.

Back-to-back three-pointers from Lawrence McKenzie and Lawrence Westbrook gave Minnesota its biggest lead at five points with 16:18 remaining in the second half, but it would be short lived.

Free throws in the second half helped the Badgers stay in the game and then their 7-0 run in the final six minutes put it away.

"We stuck to what we were doing and we just had better results," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "We tried to add the fouls up on them. When people are aggressive, you have to try to get to the line and we did. Sometimes that takes 40 minutes, 35 minutes, 30 minutes—it probably doesn't happen in the first 10 minutes. You just have to keep grinding and that's exactly what type of game this was."

It was also a well-rounded game offensively for Wisconsin—one that Ryan felt was reminiscent of his 1998 national title team at UW-Platteville that had nine players score between seven and 13 points per game.

Marcus Landry led Wisconsin with 12 points and Jason Bohannon, Brian Butch, Trevon Hughes and Michael Flowers all chipped in with 11.

"There are some guys getting in foul trouble, other guys picking them up, everybody contributing in one way or another," Ryan said. "It's fun when you have a group of guys like that."

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