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Sunday, March 03, 2024
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Wisconsin basketball loses 61-63 against Purdue on Senior Night in the Kohl Center on March 2, 2023 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Badgers lose yet again in final regular season home battle

The No. 5 Boilermakers traveled to the Kohl Center for Wisconsin’s final regular season home game, in which the Badgers fell 63-61.

Close, but not close enough — a phrase that encapsulates the 2022-23 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball season, including Thursday’s game against No. 5 Purdue, all too well. 

Like most of the year, the Badgers (16-13, 8-11 Big Ten) were close the entire game but were unable to finish late as they fell 63-61 to the Boilermakers (25-5, 14-5 Big Ten) and clinched the outright Big Ten regular season title. 

The Badgers played in front of a charged up and sold-out Kohl Center. On Senior Night, prolific forward Tyler Wahl was honored, setting the stage for a rowdy arena atmosphere. 


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Wisconsin basketball loses 61-63 against Purdue on Senior Night in the Kohl Center on March 2, 2023 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The first half was a cagey affair, and neither team established a significant lead, as the Boilermakers’ six-point lead late in the half represented the largest lead of the entire period. 

Purdue’s super big man, the 7-foot-4, 295-pound Zach Edey, struggled early, missing five of his first six free throws. However, he would still end up making his mark on the game, as he finished with 17 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting along with a staggering 19 rebounds. 

Another surprise in the first half, this time for Wisconsin, was reserve sophomore guard Isaac Lindsey. Lindsey played sparingly this year but proved to be a spark plug off the bench, dropping in eight quick points at the end of the half to fire up the crowd and send the Badgers to the locker room facing a respectable 31-27 deficit. 

Coming out for the second half, Wisconsin was not ready to back down from the mighty Boilermakers. Chucky Hepburn’s 3-pointer with just over 14 minutes left gave UW a five point lead and had Purdue on their heels for the first time all game. 


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Wisconsin basketball loses 61-63 against Purdue on Senior Night in the Kohl Center on March 2, 2023 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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The half continued on in tense fashion as baskets came at a premium. Any points scored were truly earned. A Max Klesmit layup gave the Badgers a 57-56 lead that they held with under two minutes left, which is when the familiar end-of-game scenario played out all over again for Wisconsin. 

The Badgers missed their last four field goal attempts, and Purdue rode success at the free throw line to a 63-61 victory. Wisconsin had the ball with just under five seconds left, but were unable to get a legitimate shot off as time expired, leaving the Badgers with a sour taste in the mouth once again.

“The frustrating part is that we’ve been there in so many of these games,” Klesmit told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel after the game, who again excelled with a team-high 19 points. 

“It’s pretty frustrating,” added Wahl, after his potential final game in. “Because we’ve been playing well enough to win, and we just haven’t been able to get it done.” 

Neither player is wrong. Between one-possession losses at home to Northwestern, Rutgers and now Purdue and overtime losses at Nebraska and Michigan just in the last month, the Badgers’ squandered opportunities have added up.

For Purdue, this game marks a triumphant moment for them nearly a year after a Chucky Hepburn buzzer-beater denied them of the full Big Ten regular season title. 

Along with Edey, leading the way was guard Fletcher Loyer with 13 points. Purdue wasn’t great on the offensive end, but they were almost masterful on the defensive end. They held Wahl to five points and center Steven Crowl to two, and they held the Badgers as a whole to just 39.7% shooting from the field.


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Wisconsin basketball loses 61-63 against Purdue on Senior Night in the Kohl Center on March 2, 2023 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


As Wisconsin reflects on yet another heartbreaking loss, it’s fair to wonder if the hole they have dug is simply too deep. Sitting on the bubble coming into Thursday’s game, this loss is not too damaging, but without another quality win to add to a mediocre record, the Badgers are running out of time. 

With just Minnesota (8-20) left on the schedule, Wisconsin will surely have to win that contest and then go on a lengthy run in the Big Ten Tournament if they want a chance at returning to March Madness. 

"Little things — one thing here, one thing there — as they add up makes a difference because we’ve been in so many of these games," said coach Greg Gard after the game.

Gard is not wrong, but the reality is, with a below-.500 record in the Big Ten and few games left, it appears those little things might deny the Badgers a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Wisconsin will travel to Minneapolis to face the Gophers with tipoff set for 6:30 p.m. Sunday on FS1 and the Badger Sports Network.

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