Nothing is ever easy for the Wisconsin Badgers. Just the latest case in point is their heart-stopping 75-74 win over Penn State in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday night.
Nearly blowing an 18-point lead with 7:30 left was staring Wisconsin in the face after Jonathan Davis’ missed shot with 21 seconds left. Penn State got the rebound, and without a timeout to use, set up one final play as time ticked down.
Nittany Lions guard Sam Sessions lob pas to teammate John Harrar was contested by Wisconsin’s Nate Reuvers, who blocked the ball toward the right baseline. But as the ball was about to fall out of bounds with possession going to Penn State, Badgers’ guard Brad Davison made a desperate airborne lunge to the ball, securing it with just enough control to call time out before dropping to the hardwood with 0.8 seconds remaining.
One long pass down the court, and the Badgers survive and advance to the tournament’s quarterfinals.
Shooting has been Wisconsin’s late-season nemesis, but that was not an issue on Thursday night; the team shooting 25-54 (46.3%) overall, including 12-23 (52.2%) from the three-point line. UW was led by Aleem Ford’s hot hand. Ford scored 17 points on 6-7 shooting (5-6 from the three point line), and was one of three Wisconsin players scoring in double digits.
Playing with a singe bye as the tournament’s No. 6 seed, this was the Badgers first game since last Saturday’s loss to Iowa, who Wisconsin will rematch with on Friday night.