Wisconsin held USC to just one basket in the final 5:41 of the game to earn a 64-59 win over the Trojans in the third-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday.
Player of the Game: Chucky Hepburn
After a rough start to the tournament, Hepburn played his best game of the season. The sophomore scored a team-high 17 points, dished out four assists and came up with the game-clinching steal and bucket to close things out. Hepburn, who came into the game shooting 29% from beyond the arc, went 3-for-5 on 3-pointers and 7-for-13 overall. Coach Greg Gard said afterward he told Hepburn on Thursday to “just play ball” and stop thinking too much. The guard clearly listened as he played a major role in the victory.
The good: Connor Essegian
The true freshman continues to be a difference maker. After scoring a career-high 17 points in the near upset of Kansas, Essegian drilled four of the six shots he took from deep and finished with 12 points and four rebounds. For the tournament, he averaged 14 points per game and shot 52.9% from beyond the arc.
The not so good: 3-point defense
Wisconsin came into the game with the best 3-point defense in the country, while USC was among the worst 3-point shooting teams. But the Trojans took advantage of some open looks and went 11-for-23 for the game. That included going 5-for-10 in the second half.
Stat of the Game: 2
That’s how many points USC’s Ellis Boogie had in the second half after burning Wisconsin for 13 in the first. The Badgers defense held him to just 1-for-7 shooting after the break and he ended up with 15 points for the game.
— Tyler Wahl had another strong effort, dropping 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds. The senior leads the Badgers in scoring, rebounding, is second in steals and third in assists so far this season.
— Jordan Davis gave Wisconsin eight points, including five in a personal 5-0 run to nearly erase a 30-24 USC lead late in the first half. And, unlike the day before when he watched from the bench on the final defensive play against Kansas where Essegian allowed his man to grab an offensive rebound and get the game-winning bucket, Davis was on the floor for the key defensive possessions down the stretch.
— Wisconsin captured third place in the tournament and is now 8-1 all-time in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Wisconsin (5-1) will come home to face Wake Forest (5-1) on Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge