MADISON — Another second-half surge allowed the Wisconsin Badgers to stay perfect at home.
A key 13–4 run out of halftime allowed Wisconsin to gain the lead and ultimately defeat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a 69–64 win at the Kohl Center on Monday night.
Redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed four rebounds with three assists. Redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice also enjoyed another nice outing, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Sophomore Nate Reuvers recorded 10 points and two rebounds.
Wisconsin (8–1, 2–0 Big Ten) shot 53.7 percent (29 of 54) from the field but only made five of 14 from three-point range. UW won despite making only six of 13 from the free-throw line, with Happ missing all three of his attempts.
Rutgers (5–3, 0–2) started off hot but cooled in the second half, shooting only 40.6 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. Overall, the Scarlet Knights connected on 46.6 percent from the field (27 of 58) after coming into the game shooting 42.2 percent in the previous seven contests.
Three players scored in double-digits for the Scarlet Knights. Junior forward Eugene Omoruyi tallied a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Geo Baker recorded 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Fellow sophomore guard Peter Kiss ended the night with 12 points on 2-of-5 shooting plus five rebounds.
Wisconsin trailed by as much as 10 in the first half but whittled the deficit down to five by intermission, thanks in part to a late 9–4 run in a 2:18 span. Rutgers shot nearly 54 percent in those first 20 minutes, making 12 of 16 layups, but UW’s defense picked up thereafter.
The Badgers pushed out that 13–4 run to start the second half and take a 39–35 lead at the 15:21 mark after a Brevin Pritzl offensive rebound and put-back. Senior forward Khalil Iverson scored the team’s first four points to spark the comeback, and he finished with five points and four rebounds.
After Rutgers kept the game close within a couple of possessions for about three minutes, Wisconsin began extending its lead throughout the second half. UW extended the lead out to as much as 11 points after Trice’s layup with 4:49 left made it 57–46.
Trice scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and hit both three-pointers in that frame.
Rutgers did not give up, continuing to push back on Wisconsin to shrink the gap. It would not get closer than five points, however. Pritzl, who scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and made some hustle plays in key situations, connecting on four free throws within the last 34 seconds to ice the win for the Badgers.
Up next for No. 12 Wisconsin is Marquette on the road at the brand-new Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Saturday.