Feb. 7, 2013
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- There were good possessions followed by bad possessions followed by good possessions.
"That was something else," sighed Wisconsin senior center Jared Berggren. "It went back and forth from thinking we got it sealed up to making some mistakes and letting them back in."
There were only six lead changes but 14 ties in Wednesday's double-overtime win over Iowa.
"You're up a possession, you're down a possession, it was crazy," said junior guard Ben Brust. "Every possession was a battle, especially getting rebounds and securing them."
Every shot was contested -- the good ones and the bad ones.
"Shot selection became a little scary -- but we just hung on, hung on and hung on some more," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "Both teams were playing so hard, we both made mistakes at crucial times."
There were mad scrambles for the 50-50s and countless floor burns.
"That means a lot of minutes were played and we have a lot of tough guys," said senior forward Mike Bruesewitz, who was on his way to an ice bath. "That was a lot of fun."
Particularly since the Badgers snapped a three-game losing streak to the Hawkeyes.
"They felt confident coming in here and they thought they were going to beat us," said freshman Sam Dekker. "They've had our number. It's a taste that we didn't want to have anymore."
In so many words that was echoed in the Wisconsin huddle during one of the timeouts.
|“They felt confident coming in here and they thought they were going to beat us,” said freshman Sam Dekker. “They've had our number. It’s a taste that we didn’t want to have anymore.”
"It was like, `We work too hard and we play too hard for things to not go well,'" repeated Bruesewitz. "Some stuff didn't go exactly our way, but we found a way to get it done."
Even from the free throw line. The Badgers made 13-of-14 in the overtimes.
"We've all been working on them," said Brust. "We know that we can make them. But it's good when a couple of guys start making them and then the whole team feeds off it."
Minutes afterward it almost looked like Berggren would need helping taking off his jersey.
"I can't think of a game where we were battling that long," said Berggren, who played 43 minutes and nearly recorded a rare triple-double by finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocks.
"I think I'll be more tired once I calm down a little bit,'' he confided. "But I'm definitely worn out. There were a lot of minutes and a lot of guys working hard. We showed a lot of fight.''
Wisconsin punched, Iowa counter-punched. Iowa punched, Wisconsin counter-punched.
"We kept fighting to the very end,'' Berggren said, "and we found a way to get it done.''
While it could have ended much sooner, the Badgers still went 2-for-3 on "Big Boy Shots."
"We made some shots,'' Ryan acknowledged, "and gave ourselves a chance.''
The first came with 21 seconds left in regulation and Wisconsin trailing, 58-55. On an extended possession, after a couple of missed shots and offensive rebounds, Traevon Jackson hit a 3-pointer.
"I knew I'd be able to get it over him (Iowa freshman Anthony Clemmons),'' he said.
That's all he had to say about it? "It was great,'' he added. "It went in.'' This has become a reoccurring storyline with Jackson.
"He's developing a reputation for coming up with clutch baskets,'' Berggren said. "Hopefully he has some more in him because I have a feeling that we're going to find ourselves in more grinders.''
Near the end of the first overtime, Berggren had an opportunity for a game-winner. With seven seconds remaining, Jackson set him up with a good 3-point look from the top of the key.But he missed.
"It was a great look, I was wide open,'' he said. "Obviously I wish I could have had that one back and finish this thing about an hour earlier."
Upon further review, Berggren couldn't pinpoint when he took the shot. "I don't even remember,'' he admitted. "It's all a blur right now. I can't keep all the possessions straight.''
|Brust had 10 of his game-high 18 points after halftime.
But he had no trouble remembering kicking out a pass to Dekker, who drained a clutch 3-pointer at 1:37 of the second overtime to lift the Badgers into a 67-64 lead that they would not relinquish.
"That was huge, especially for a freshman in that situation,'' Berggren said. "He was on the bench for awhile (Dekker played just 18 minutes). That's cold-blooded, that's just being a gamer.''
Dekker never hesitated on taking the shot.
"It's something I like to do -- shooting the ball,'' he said. "It's something I have confidence in, especially at the end of the game. I don't have any fear when it comes to that stuff.
"So I just got it (the ball), put it up, and it went in.''
Brust was impressed.
"How about that, you sit out almost the whole second half and you come in and hit a cold-blooded swish from 3?'' he posed. "That was a big shot from Sammy. That's what he does.''
How did Dekker stay ready for that moment?
"You just have to keep your mind in the game,'' Dekker said. "You can't let yourself get down and you can't let yourself get cold (on the bench). You have to stay loose and mentally prepared.
"They (the coaches) know if they need me, they can put me in. I kept myself in the game (when he wasn't playing), I kept supporting my teammates and when I got out there, I did what I had to do.''
So did the Badgers -- from the free throw line -- despite a cold start. Evans was shooting 41 percent in Big Ten games and made 5-of-7, including a pair with four seconds left to seal the win.
Although he shot better than 80 percent during the nonconference games, Berggren was also struggling from the line, making just 46 percent. But he made 6-of-8 against the Hawkeyes.
"That's my stroke,'' said Berggren, who was 4-of-4 in the overtimes. "I don't think it was ever as bad as I was shooting. I was just in a little bit of a slump.''
It wasn't always pretty or smooth. It wasn't always textbook or efficient.
"But we did just enough to get the win,'' said Berggren, ready now to take off his jersey and get some rest before the next challenge, Michigan.