MADISON, WI. Just when they needed him most, Senior Nigel Hayes came out of his funk and Bronson Koenig returned to the lineup to give the #11 Badgers (22-5, 11-3) a hard fought victory over the #23 Maryland Terps (22-5, 10-4) at the Kohl Center Sunday afternoon. The Badgers remained in a tie with the Purdue Boilermakers for the Big 10 lead going into the final stretch.
The Terps came out strong and jumped to a 33-27 halftime lead, the Badgers biggest deficit of the season. But, the Badgers finally looked like the “old Badgers” in the second half, shooting 51%, playing tough defense, turning the ball over only once, and knocking down some clutch free throws to put the game out of reach.
14 of Hayes’s 21 points came in the second half, as did all 9 of Keonig’s points. Playing his tough inside game, which had been missing recently, and hitting mid-range jumpers instead of throwing up 3-point bricks, Hayes also led Bucky with 10 rebounds as the Badgers crushed the Terps on the boards 44-27.
Sensational redshirt sophomore center Ethan Happ turned in another solid 20 point performance. He undoubtedly was happy to have some help from his friends this time. Recently, Happ has carried the team as various starters have been injured or slumped.
Redshirt freshman Brevin Pritzil (7 pts, 7 boards) had some good minutes off the bench, and looks to have moved into the “seventh man” position behind freshman guard D’Mitrik Trice. Weak bench play has plagued the Badgers this season.
The Badgers second half heroics overshadowed a tremendous performance by Terps’ all-everything guard Melo Trimble, who was nearly unstoppable, scoring 27 points, nearly half his team’s total.
On Thursday, the Badgers travel to Columbus, OH, where they hope to complete a sweep of the Buckeyes (15-13, 5-10). Meanwhile, the Terps will attempt to bounce back against the Minnesota Golden Gophers Wednesday at home.