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No. 14 Wisconsin ekes out victory over Minnesota

Jan 3, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn (23) dribbles the ball under coverage by Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Ta'lon Cooper (55) during the first half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Crowl scored 17 points and Chucky Hepburn added 16 as No. 14 Wisconsin held off Minnesota 63-60 in a Big Ten matchup on Tuesday night in Madison, Wis.

Minnesota, which trailed by 15 early in the second half, pulled within 54-53 on Jamison Battle’s layup with 8:34 left to cap an 11-0 run. The Gophers then missed their next seven field-goal attempts before Dawson Garcia’s layup cut the gap to 63-58 with 48 seconds left.

Ta’Lon Cooper’s layup brought the Gophers within 63-60 with 27 seconds left. Minnesota rebounded Crowl’s missed free throw with nine seconds remaining, but Hepburn came up with a steal before the Gophers could get off a last-second shot.

Wisconsin (11-2, 3-0 Big Ten) played most of the game without Tyler Wahl, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Wahl left with 11:10 in the first half and did not return due to what was announced as a lower-body injury. Wahl made just 1 of 5 shots and had two points and two rebounds before departing.

Cooper scored 16 points, Garcia 14 and Battle 13 for Minnesota (6-7, 0-3 Big Ten). The Gophers played for the first time in 12 days after their previous scheduled game was canceled due to travel-related issues.

Freshman Connor Essegian added 11 points off the bench for Wisconsin, which won its sixth straight game. The Badgers scored 21 points off 20 Minnesota turnovers.

Minnesota had a 40-24 edge on the boards, including 11 offensive rebounds for a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points.

Crowl hit a 3-pointer and scored underneath to cap a 7-0 run at the start of the second half, putting Wisconsin up 39-26. Battle sank consecutive 3-pointers that brought the Gophers within 49-42 with 13:10 remaining.

Wisconsin closed the first half with an 8-0 run for a 32-26 lead at the break as the Gophers went scoreless over the final 3:10.

Crowl, a junior who had a career-high 25 points in the Badgers’ 76-66 win over Western Michigan on Friday, picked up two fouls 13 seconds apart and sat the final 5:53 of the half.

Minnesota hit just one of its first nine shots but then scored on four consecutive possessions for an early 13-9 lead.

–Field Level Media