(11) Wisconsin 66, Minnesota 60: Last word

MADISON — No. 11 Wisconsin moved back into a tie for first place in the Big Ten with a 66-60 win over Minnesota on Sunday at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Johnny Davis

The National Player of the Year contender came alive offensively just when the Badgers needed it most. After Minnesota tied things up at 60 with 2:23 left, Davis outscored the Gophers 6-0 to close the game out. His stretch included a driving layup to take the lead, an offensive rebound that eventually led to a made free throw, a make just outside the lane and coming up with a loose ball on defense and getting fouled.

“He’s the best player in the country,” guard Brad Davison said. “I don’t know if it’s a safety net or just being really good basketball, but we’ll take it.”

Davis ended up with 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, but it was the finishing kick that everyone will remember.

The good: Winning when it matters

Wisconsin continues to find ways to win close game. The Badgers are now 10-1 in games decided by six points or fewer and 10-0 when Davis plays in the game.

“I think they understand the importance of every possession, they don’t panic. They listen and execute coming out of timeouts really well,” coach Greg Gard said when asked why his team has been so good in tight games. “And obviously you have to have good players. Today we put the ball in Johnny’s hands and he made plays for us.”

The not so good: Not putting it away

The Badgers are in so many close games because they refuse to put teams away. More than half of their 17 wins have come by six points or fewer and Sunday’s certainly shouldn’t have been that close. Wisconsin took a 9-point lead with 6:18 left and then proceeded to turn it over and then miss the next four shots it took. That allowed Minnesota to climb right back in and turn what could have been a comfortable win into another one that forced Badgers fans to hold their breaths.

Stat of the Game: 4

That’s how many Wisconsin players were in double figures, as Tyler Wahl (15), Davison (14) and Steven Crowl (11) joined Davis. With the Badgers not getting much from the bench scoring-wise (5 points), the continued production from the starting lineup was much needed.

Best Video

Best Tweets

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin honored Davison prior to the game for breaking the school’s all-time record for 3-pointers made.

— The national champion women’s volleyball team attended the game and was recognized during a timeout in the first half.

— Wisconsin is reportedly in the mix to land Oklahoma transfer quarterback Caleb Williams. The UW student section made sure to make their feelings known with signs and chants during the game.

— The win moved Wisconsin into a tie with Illinois for first place in the Big Ten at the midway point of the conference season. It also tied the all-time series with Minnesota at 104-104. The Badgers are 28-8 against the Gophers since the Bo Ryan/Greg Gard era began in 2001.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (17-3, 8-2) travels to face the Illini (15-5, 8-2) on Wednesday night.