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Ethan Happ

Wisconsin's Ethan Happ looks to pass the ball while defended by Purdue guard Nojel Eastern in the first half of the Badgers' Big Ten matchup with the Boilermakers on Friday night at the Kohl Center in Madison. 

There were two clear-cut favorites in the race for the Big Ten Player of the Year award when the 2018-19 season began.

While the field of qualified candidates has expanded since then, the original frontrunners finally got to go head-to-head Friday night when the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team hosted Purdue.

Both players lived up to their preseason All-American status at the Kohl Center, but Carsen Edwards was a little bit better. So was his team.

Edwards bounced back from an awful shooting performance three days earlier to light up the Badgers, finishing with a game-high 36 points to lift the Boilermakers to an 84-80 win in overtime.

“He’s a really good player … definitely one of the best in the country,” UW sophomore guard Brad Davison said. “He’s a great competitor, he’s extremely fast and he has a lift on his shots, so even if you’re there, you’re not necessarily always contesting it.

“You know what, great players have great games and he had one tonight.”

Ethan Happ had a really good game, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. But one other big number – his eight turnovers – played a big role in the Badgers (11-5, 3-2 Big Ten) losing their second consecutive home game.

UW, which entered the game with the second-lowest turnover percentage in the nation, finished with 17 turnovers in 72 possessions. Two of those came on back-to-back possessions in the extra session after they’d taken the lead.

“We have been so good in that area,” UW coach Greg Gard said. “To have that rear its ugly head obviously was disappointing.”

Gard was also unhappy that Purdue grabbed 17 offensive rebounds.

Sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice added 17 points for UW, including two big 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation, and Davison added 14.

Senior guard Ryan Cline had 14 points for Purdue (10-6, 3-2), which blew a four-point lead over the final 22.7 seconds of regulation. But the Boilermakers recovered in overtime to end a six-game losing streak away from home and earn their first true road victory of the season.

“Our guys showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

After going 7 of 31 from 3-point range in a 77-59 loss at Michigan State, Purdue went 11 of 25 from beyond the arc against the Badgers. Edwards and Cline were a combined 10 of 21 from long range.

Edwards, who went 3 of 16 at Michigan State, made 10 of his 26 shots from the floor against UW and added 10 points from the free throw line.

Happ used a spin move to get around Purdue freshman center Trevion Williams for a layup that gave the Badgers a 79-77 lead with 2:02 remaining in overtime.

But UW’s next two possessions ended with turnovers by junior guard Brevin Pritzl and Happ, and Purdue took an 81-79 lead on two free throws by Grady Eifert with 38.3 seconds remaining.

Trice drove to the basket but missed a shot that would have tied it and Cline made a free throw to give Purdue a three-point lead.

Purdue fouled Trice, who made one free throw but missed the second attempt. The Badgers fouled Edwards, who made both free throws with 8.1 seconds left to seal the win for Purdue.

A 3-pointer by Cline in transition gave the Boilers a 67-60 lead with 4:52 left in regulation, but a 3-pointer by Davison completed a 7-0 run by the Badgers and tied the game at 67 with 2:33 left.

But Edwards went to work from there. He helped the Boilers regain the lead with two free throws and, two possessions later, made a deep 3 over Happ to give Purdue a 72-68 lead with 45.7 seconds left.

Trice banked in a 3-pointer with 22.6 seconds left and, after Edwards made two free throws to extend the Boilers’ lead to 74-71, Trice dribbled to the right wing and buried a 3-pointer to tie it.

Edwards airballed a deep – and forced – 3-pointer and UW got the ball back with 3.2 seconds left. But a wild shot by Trice didn’t come close to going in as the buzzer sounded.

Happ had 18 points by halftime, but Purdue made life more difficult on him in the second half by occasionally sending double teams at him.

“I’m glad we don’t have to play him again,” Painter said after the only scheduled meeting between the teams during the regular season.

UW probably feels the same way about Edwards.

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Jim Polzin covers Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.