The Wisconsin Badgers opened Thursday night’s game at The Barn in Minneapolis with a 10-2 run, took a double-digit lead before the second media timeout and led by as much as 20 in the first half en route to a 76-63 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The win clinched the Badgers’ first Big Ten title since 2008 and their fourth under coach Bo Ryan.
Wisconsin (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten) took total control of the game with a 12-2 burst in the middle of the first half, with Nigel Hayes’ layup with 6:30 remaining before halftime putting the Badgers up 36-16.
Minnesota (17-13, 6-11) rallied to cut the deficit to 10 before intermission, capped by Andre Hollins’ 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
The Gophers got the deficit down to six on a 3-ball from Nate Mason early in the second half, but Wisconsin answered with five straight points to get the lead back into double-digits.
As has been the case much of the season, Frank Kaminsky carried the heavy load for the Badgers, scoring 25 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds. The senior was 10-for-15 from the floor and played all 40 minutes.
Mason led Minnesota with 15 points and Carlos Morris scored 11 off the bench. Maurice Walker chipped in with 11 rebounds to go with seven points and Hollins, who was just 2-for-9 from the floor, had four assists but was held to five points—almost 10 below his per-game average.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Kaminsky told The Associated Press. “It’s been fun. To win it in a rivalry game on Minnesota’s court with so many of our own fans here is something pretty special. We could hear them the whole game. They were loud.”
Wisconsin was 10-for-20 from 3-point range and shot 50 percent overall for the game, while Minnesota hit just 41 percent of its shots.No. 23
The Badgers wrap up the regular season on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. when they visit No. 23 Ohio State (22-8, 11-6), which won at Penn State Wednesday.
Wisconsin will be the top seed for next week’s Big Ten conference tournament at Chicago’s United Center and will play their first game of the event on March 13 at 11 a.m., when they play the winner of Tuesday’s game between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds.