Wisconsin beats No. 12 Minnesota 45-44
MADISON Traevon Jackson hadn't made many shots the past few games. Still, with the game on the line Saturday, the Wisconsin sophomore point guard was full of confidence.
He came through for the Badgers.
Jackson narrowly beat the shot clock and hit a 15-foot jumper from the right side with 4 seconds left as Wisconsin edged No. 12 Minnesota 45-44, the Golden Gophers' fourth straight loss.
"I didn't have any doubt," said Jackson, who also hit a free throw-line jumper with 1:03 remaining to tie the score at 43 and finished with nine points.
After Jackson gave the Badgers (14-6, 5-2 Big Ten) a 45-43 lead, Minnesota called a timeout with 1.8 seconds left and inbounded from halfcourt. Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz fouled Trevor Mbakwe on the play, but the big man was unable to shoot the ensuing free throws because he aggravated a right wrist injury.
Badgers coach Bo Ryan selected Rodney Williams to take Mbakwe's spot. Williams, who came in shooting 64.9 percent from the line, hit the first free throw but missed the second and Sam Dekker grabbed the rebound to seal the win for Wisconsin.
Dekker and Ryan Evans scored 10 points apiece to lead the Badgers, who ended a two-game slide and have beaten Minnesota 15 times in the past 16 meetings in Madison.
Andre Hollins had a game-high 20 points for the Gophers (15-5, 3-4), but was called for an offensive foul on Ben Brust with 39.1 seconds left and the score tied at 43 to set the stage for Jackson's late shot.
"It was a big momentum-changer in the game," Hollins said of the charge. "My decision-making on that play was very poor. Those are the little things that cost us the game."
Jackson ran down the clock, maneuvering over the 3-point line with about 6 seconds left. He faked a shot, which sent the 6-foot-8 Mbakwe flying past him, then put up the decisive jumper - replays showed he released the ball just before the 35-second shot clock expired.
The ball rattled around the rim, but Jackson - the son of 14-year NBA veteran Jim Jackson - said his faith never waned.
"It hit a little bit of the front rim, then a little bit of the back rim and I'm like, `That's going in,'" said Jackson, who shot 4 for 7 from the floor after making just 21 percent of his shots (6 for 28) the previous three games.
Jackson's confidence didn't surprise Ryan.
"If you're going to be a player, you have to be that way," he said. "There can't be any doubts. You have to be the one that says, `OK, we can do this.' I don't know any other way a guy would think, period."
For Ryan's counterpart, it was an all-too-familiar result.
"That's a recipe for getting a loss: just not be disciplined defensively, and not be disciplined offensively," said Tubby Smith, whose team was held to a season low for points and was outrebounded 35-29. "We've had three chances now to break (the losing streak), and it's been the same. We had a good shot today; we had a good shot (Wednesday) against Northwestern. We just haven't stepped up to the plate.
"Maybe we're just not pushing the right buttons to get guys to do what they have to do," he said. "No one wants to play bad. Nobody's trying to lose. But obviously it becomes a state of mind."
Wisconsin trailed by as many as eight in the first half, but Evans scored six points in a 13-2 run just before halftime. Neither team led by more than five in the second half in the Badgers' third Big Ten game this season in which both teams failed to score 50 points.
The Badgers are 57-1 under Ryan at home when allowing fewer than 50 points - Tuesday's 49-47 setback to No. 13 Michigan State being the only loss.