Feb. 28, Kohl Center
Season record: 19-10 (11-5 Big Ten)
Interim coach Greg Gard brought up some bad memories in his pregame speech Sunday evening, reminding the members of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team about home losses to Western Illinois, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette earlier in the season.
Those defeats seem like an eternity ago, but Gard thought it was important to bring up the low points as a reminder of the importance of holding serve at the Kohl Center during the Badgers’ final scheduled appearance in the building this season.
“We’ve righted the ship,” Gard told his players, “let’s make sure we finish … on the right note.”
The Badgers answered Gard’s call, using a big second half to post a 68-57 victory over Michigan and continue their climb up the Big Ten Conference standings.
Junior point guard Bronson Koenig finished with a game-high 19 points, and junior forward Nigel Hayes added 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help UW win for the 10th time in its last 11 games.
A close loss to Maryland on Jan. 9 dropped the Badgers to 7-5 at home. They’ve won their remaining six games at the Kohl Center since that point, a big reason UW finds itself in a four-way tie for second place in the Big Ten and still in the title chase with a week to go.
In order to secure a share of their second consecutive Big Ten regular-season title, the Badgers need to beat Minnesota and Purdue on the road this week and hope first-place Indiana loses at Iowa and at home to Maryland.
After UW (19-10, 11-5 Big Ten) beat Michigan for the 16th time in the teams’ last 18 meetings, Gard began his postgame news conference by saying thank you to several people. The first group he recognized was a home crowd that provided the Badgers with a great deal of energy.
“They were terrific through this whole transition and rough start to the season back in November and December,” Gard said. “For them to be able to continue to show their support for us obviously means a lot.