Minnesota’s 2016 senior night will be not be one Gopher fans will want to remember.
Earlier Wednesday, Minnesota head coach Rick Pitino suspended teammates Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey after an alleged sex video scandal that appeared on Dorsey’s social media account.
To make matters worse, the trio previously accounted for nearly 44 percent of Minnesota’s average points per game and could have been used as Wisconsin (12-5 Big Ten, 20-10 overall) demolished the depleted Gophers (2-15, 8-21) 62-49 at Williams Arena Wednesday night.
The opening tip-off essentially summed up Minnesota’s night, as it was charged with a unique backcourt violation after a Gopher player tipped the ball backwards behind half court.
Within minutes of the first half, Wisconsin silenced Gopher fans and pulled away with a commanding 38-18 lead during a stretch where UW made eight straight field goals. Minnesota simply lacked energy and its spotty defense enabled the Badgers to lead big early on.
Redshirt senior, Jordan Smith, who only averages 1.2 minutes per game, entered the game in the first half, highlighting the degree of the blowout.
Going into halftime, the Badgers led Minnesota 40-24 after shooting 55 percent from the field, led by an impressive 12-point first half from junior Bronson Koenig.
Wisconsin’s lead never fell below 11 points in the second half, and it cruised to its 20th win, a feat it has accomplished for the 10th consecutive season. After Wednesday’s win, UW has won 11 of its last 12 games and clinched at least a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten for the 14th consecutive year.
Junior Vitto Brown continued to be a reliable offensive contributor, providing 12 points and a pair of threes. After not taking a single three his first two years at Wisconsin, Brown has been a hot shooter from beyond the arc in recent weeks and can be a legitimate threat from deep.
UW once again excelled from 3-point range, as it sunk in seven from deep. The squad is 7-1 in its last eight games when hitting six or more threes.
Freshman Stephon Sharp and Jordan Murphy lead the Gophers with a combined 31 points and nine rebounds, but aside from the young guns, Minnesota was lackluster on the offensive side of the ball.
The Badgers will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., Sunday to play their last game of the season against No. 15 Purdue. With a win, Wisconsin can earn a double bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.