Happ lifts No. 17 Wisconsin to OT win vs. Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- Wisconsin senior Ethan Happ scored 28 points, including 23 in the second half and overtime, as the No. 17 Badgers held off Minnesota 78-76 in overtime on Saturday.
Happ added 12 rebounds and dominated down low in the second half for Wisconsin (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten). Senior Nigel Hayes scored 21 points for the Badgers, who have won 12 of their past 13 games overall and six straight against Minnesota.
Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig scored five points, all in the first half, before hitting two 3-pointers in overtime. Koenig's 3-pointer with less than a minute left gave the Badgers a 77-76 lead and Gophers guard Akeem Springs missed a desperation jumper as time expired.
Freshman Amir Coffey scored 19 points for Minnesota (15-5, 3-4), which has lost three in a row after being ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in four years. Springs had 16 points and Dupree McBrayer scored 14.
The Gophers' faithful highly anticipated the matchup after years of being on the wrong end against the Badgers. Minnesota's breakthrough this season has come with Coffey arriving after being named Minnesota's Mr. Basketball last season, while Springs and Reggie Lynch were eligible after transferring.
Wisconsin's spot in the rankings has been secured with Happ joining four senior starters.
The veteran Badgers took advantage of the Gophers in the second half, continually going inside to Happ. Minnesota had little answer for the 6-foot-10, 232-pound sophomore. Lynch, who led the Big Ten in blocks heading into the game, fouled out with eight points and seven rebounds while trying to contain Happ.
Happ scored 14 straight points to give Wisconsin a 60-59 lead after trailing at halftime. With Happ on the bench for rest, Minnesota reclaimed the lead on a 3-pointer by McBrayer. The Badgers took control again, this time from the foul line, when Happ returned.
Wisconsin was 9 of 13 from the free-throw line. The Gophers only attempted four free throws in regulation, before attempting six in overtime.
Springs tied the game with a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining. Minnesota forced a turnover but time ran out in regulation as Coffey was fouled on the breakout. Neither team led by more than five points.
BADGER BITS: Wisconsin senior F Vitto Brown started after being called questionable with a knee injury. ... The game was the first sellout for Minnesota since the 2014-15 season. ... The Gophers honored G Akeem Springs before the game for reaching the 1,000-point plateau. Springs, in his first season with Minnesota after transferring from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, entered Saturday with 1,014 points. ... The Badgers entered play sixth in the nation with a plus-10.4 rebounding margin on opponents and outrebounded the Gophers 36-33. ... Minnesota entered the game 13th in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Wisconsin is 29th.