UW-Milwaukee and Wisconsin play basketball against each other every season. And for the last 22 years, the Badgers had come out on top.
That streak ended Wednesday night. For the first time since Dec. 12, 1992, Milwaukee defeated Wisconsin, this time by the score of 68-67 at Kohl Center.
After Bronson Koenig brought it to a one-point game with 13 seconds left, the Panthers turned the ball over in the backcourt to give Wisconsin one final chance to win. But another jumper from Koenig didn’t fall, and Milwaukee grabbed the rebound to celebrate its streak-busting win.
Koenig scored 16 points and Milwaukee’s Jordan Johnson scored 22 while dishing out four assists, but the real star of the evening was Nigel Hayes. Hayes set a career high with 32 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 12 of 19 from the line. However, the loss clearly stuck with him after the game
“Points are irrelevant when you lose,” Hayes said.
It’s that kind of team mentality that will make Hayes a pretty well sought-after prospect when his time comes for the NBA Draft, but there’s just no way that you can pin this loss on Hayes. This one came down to much of the same story as we’ve seen from Wisconsin all year, as Koenig and Hayes combined for 48 of the Badgers’ 67 points. Ethan Happ was also strong, as he went for 10 points and 15 rebounds. However, it was the rest of the group that let them down.
Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter combined for five points on 1-of-11 shooting. The bench only scored four points. These are the players that will allow them to win games against Syracuse, Temple and VCU, but also lose to Milwaukee and Western Illinois at home. The group just doesn’t quite have the consistency that the Badgers need to rack up wins right now.
And that’s kind of a shocking thing to say about Wisconsin, right? The Badgers under Bo Ryan have been one of the most consistent teams in college basketball for the last decade and a half. But they’ve become the most inconsistent group in the country on a night-to-night basis. You never know what you’re going to get from them just because you never know if the secondary scoring will step up.
Finding that consistency is something Ryan has excelled at throughout his career, and he’ll need to do it by the end of the year if the Badgers want to go dancing. Because otherwise, the resume right now says that the NIT is a distinct possibility for the first time in his tenure.