Junior guard Ben Brust earns his first career Big Ten player of the week honor and Wisconsin -…
"Something Big Has Happened"
MADISON - After being around his head coach for countless hours, games and practices over his four seasons, Mike Bruesewitz knows when a rarity occurs with head coach Bo Ryan. So when the senior looked over to see his coach standing on the court with both arms extended upward, Bruesewitz knew, "something big has happened." It did courtesy of junior guard Ben Brust. Arguably the deadliest three-point shooter on Wisconsin's roster, Brust hit an improbable three-pointer just past halfcourt at the end of regulation and the game-winning three with 39.6 seconds left to lift the Badgers to a 65-62 overtime victory over No.3 Michigan Saturday. "It was awesome," said Brust. "Something I will remember forever, and I am sure a lot of people will … To win the game in overtime makes it that much sweeter. We're right in the hunt." After losing three of four following its upset at No.2 Indiana, the third straight win for Wisconsin (17-7, 8-3 Big Ten) has put the Badgers in the thick of the conference race with seven games to go. How jumbled is the top half of the Big Ten? If Purdue defends its home court tonight against Michigan State and Ohio State can do the same against Indiana Sunday, Wisconsin could move into a five-way tie for first place in the Big Ten. Not bad for a team that the outside world has criticized for being "ugly." "This is a group that just finds different ways," said UW coach Bo Ryan, who improved to 16-5 against Michigan. "They're great to have in practice, too. They're working it. They're trying." Wisconsin got five players in double figures and three players with at least eight rebounds. Brust led the way with 14 points and commanded all the attention after. Burst was averaging only 2.1 three-point makes per game and hadn't made more than three three-point attempts since December 4. That changed dramatically with Brust took the inbounds pass from Bruesewitz near halfcourt, took one dribble and drained the tying three-point shot with Caris LeVert trying to contest as time expired in regulation. "I knew I had to get (the shot) off," said Brust. "I wanted to at least give it a chance." With two fouls to give, Michigan coach John Beilein instructed his players to foul upon the inbounds pass but Brust was able to get a step on LeVert, who couldn't catch up to foul him. "(Brust) turned the corner on Caris," said Beilein, who is 1-10 against Ryan, "and he couldn't get it done in time." But with Brust and Bruesewitz acknowledging the shot would have been meaningless had Wisconsin not won its second overtime game in four days, Brust made sure he wasn't done with LeVert. After each team traded baskets in the first overtime session, Brust got enough separation from LeVert to hit the game's final basket with 39 seconds left. "If we make that shot, go to overtime in lose, it's just kind of like ‘Oh nice shot,' but we still lost," said Brust. "At the end of this day we're here to win, and we wanted to do that." So many factors even set up Wisconsin and Brust from having a chance to send the game to overtime against a team poised to reclaim the nation's number one ranking with a victory. Seeing Michigan (21-8, 8-3) go on a 10-2 run, giving the Wolverines a 55-49 lead with 6:34 remaining, Wisconsin engineered an 8-2 run of its own that was punctuated with Jared Berggren (13 points, 8 rebounds) delivering a three-point play off a thunderous dunk with 30 seconds remaining. "I took a few threes before that, so I knew (the defender) was coming hard on the close out, probably expecting me to shoot it," said Berggren. "I saw an opening, attack the rim and was able to finish the play." Wisconsin looked sunk again after Tim Hardaway (18 points) hit a three-point shot with Bruesewitz in his face to give Michigan a 60-57 lead with 2.4 seconds left. With fouls to give, Bruesewitz reached in to stop Hardaway, only to have no foul be called and the junior still hit the shot. "That was a tough shot," said Ryan. But running a play Ryan estimates his team has run 100 times over the years, Traevon Jackson ran a curl to clear the traffic out of the near court, allowing Bruesewitz an open passing lane to Brust. Bruesewitz hit Brust in stride, resulting in the third buzzer-beater in school history that forced overtime and lead to a win. "We got a bunch of dudes who are gritty, tough and just want to play the game the right way," said Bruesewitz. "When we win it's a great feeling." Sophomore guard Trey Burke led Michigan with 19 points, scoring 10 of the Wolverines' first 18 points in the second half, but was hounded by the Badgers over the game's final 14 minutes. After making a jumper with 9:10 remaining, Burke had just two points on 1-for-6 shooting the rest of the way, including missing the game-tying three with Berggren flying at his face. "We definitely felt like we had a shot to win the game going into overtime," said Burke, as the Wolverines haven't officially won in Madison since 1991. "It was a great shot by Brust … They played a great game. The crowd was great for them. It just went their way." Wisconsin held Michigan to 39.4 percent and the Wolverines – averaging 77.7 points per game – to only two points on eight possessions in overtime on 1-for-7 shooting. That resulted in Wisconsin winning its sixth home game over an AP top five team in the past seven years – tied with Pittsburgh for the most in the nation – and third court storming by the UW students since 2009. "It's hard to put any of those (beating No.6 Duke or No.1 Ohio State) on top of this one right now," said Berggren. "For us to go down by three with two seconds left and for Ben to hit that shot, that's a pretty special play there. "This is going to be an instant classic game … We're just happy to survive with a win."
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