Regardless of how you put it, the Wisconsin Badgers first-round NCAA Tournament win over Pittsburgh on Friday night at the Scottrade Center wasn't pretty. It wasn't until junior forward Vitto Brown drilled a 3-pointer, his third of the game, with 2:35 remaining that the Badgers would take the lead for good.
Even with the Panthers playing strong defense, it wasn't enough.
Jamel Artis was the only Pittsburgh player in double-figure points (13).
Since then? The Badgers, invigorated by the reinstatement of Ryan's old swing offense, have lost just three games, including the flop against the Huskers.
Wisconsin, a team in disarray two months ago, has been on a mission to prove it can overcome significant off-court distractions, many caused by former (and formerly revered) head coach Bo Ryan and his extramarital conduct.
The Wisconsin Badgers started the season in the top 25 of the AP Poll, but soon started free falling.
-Only two players on Wisconsin (Happ and Hayes) even attempted a free throw.
"I thought tonight Weber State gave us a feel for that", said Mack, whose team oddly didn't have a single fast-break point in the victory. "But the confidence in me never wavered after our Northwestern loss and the talk we had amongst ourselves, we righted the ship, turned things around and here we are".
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Sale said White Sox players are still "trying to find out what the truth is", and that the situation was "extremely frustrating". "This was likely to be the a year ago of my career", LaRoche said, "and there's no way I was going to spend it without my son".
The Badgers' lead was short-lived, though, and Sheldon Jeter hit a jumper with less than 12 minutes left to give Pittsburgh a 34-29 advantage.
Much like they have in years past, the Musketeers (28-5) are using the same script that Mack put in place when he took over for current Arizona coach Sean Miller: Pound away in the paint, get loose on the perimeter, and mix man-to-man defense with a 1-3-1 zone that can cause all kinds of confusion.
In the gamethread, I remarked that because of the low-scoring nature of the game in the first half, that Pitt's 10-point lead at the time really felt like it was bigger.
Wisconsin basketball defeats the Pittsburgh Panthers: 76-70. "There definitely were those pains going back to the first game, start of the Big Ten season, again going 1-4 like you said. And to get to this point they've forged their own identity, written their own story".
It was the fewerst points by a winning team in the NCAA Tournament since 2003.
"We didn't know if we wanted [Happ] to miss it or make it. So I told him, 'Let's just play it out.' If he makes it, perfect". We think the Badgers will make a run to the Sweet 16, where they'll be edged out by West Virginia and its pressure defense. "Just the mere fact we played a team similar in terms of style in Round One hopefully helps us for the next game".
But unlike their Big Ten brother Michigan State, as Brown later noted, the Badgers live to see another day in the bracket.
HOME COOKING: Showalter's father is an assistant coach at nearby Lindenwood University, where his brother Jake Showalter also plays.
"To be able to keep the ball alive, that was the biggest thing, and we knew at that moment of the game we had to make them pay for every mistake", said Brown who made 3-of-5 from beyond the arc while his teammates combined to go 1-for-14.