WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson each scored 15 points Saturday, helping No. 9 Wisconsin end its three-game losing streak with a 72-58 victory at Purdue.
The Badgers (17-3, 4-3 Big Ten) won for the first time since starting 16-0. It was only their fourth win ever at Mackey Arena.
Terone Johnson and Bryson Scott each had 10 points to lead Purdue, but the Boilermakers (13-7, 3-4) lost their second straight.
Wisconsin relied on an old-school formula to win this one – committing just nine turnovers while limiting the Boilermakers to just 35.4 percent shooting from the field.
Despite making only 13 baskets over the final 34 minutes, the Badgers still managed to turn a three-point halftime lead into a 10-point advantage early in the second half, then fended off one Purdue charge before pulling away late.
The game started on a somber note.
Just five days after a campus shooting claimed the life of one Purdue student, Wisconsin native Andrew Boldt, school officials called for a moment of silence just before tip-off. The railings in front of the two student sections closest to the court were decorated with new signs, reading “Boiler Strong.” And the Boilermakers also took a moment to honor longtime athletic department official and former assistant basketball coach Tom Reiter, another Wisconsin native who died Friday night after battling cancer.
But the emotional opening didn’t change what was at stake in this pivotal game.
Wisconsin desperately needed a win, while the Boilermakers were looking to pad their NCAA tournament resume.
Instead, the game turned into a slugfest.
Both teams got into early foul trouble and both teams struggled to shoot.
And even when it appeared Wisconsin would pull away after starting the second half on a 9-2 spurt to take a 41-31 lead, the Boilermakers came right back with an 8-1 flurry to close to 42-39.
That’s when Wisconsin finally took charge. The Badgers went on a 9-2 run and finally sealed the win with a late 11-4 run, giving them a 69-52 lead that the Boilers couldn’t recover from.
Most of the game was a struggle, though.
Boilermakers center A.J. Hammons picked up two fouls in the first 95 seconds and his third just 28 seconds after re-entering the game midway through the first half. Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky went to the bench with two fouls at the 14:24 mark and spent the rest of the half shuttling from the court to the bench.
The result was an unsteady first half in which Wisconsin started fast and then struggled to pull away.
After Wisconsin jumped to a 17-6 lead in the first six minutes, the Boilermakers used a 6-0 spurt to get within 20-19. They tied the score at 25 when Johnson scored on a fast break. But the Badgers went on a 7-2 run to regain control.