Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY
The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team put their foot down in Madison Thursday night.
Especially on the defensive end of the floor when they needed.
That and they got a BIG night on the offensive end from Ben Brust.
The senior guard, who knocked down all four of his three point attempt, helped push the Badgers and Bo Ryan to their 8th straight, 20 win season.
Dropping in a season-high 20 points for the Badgers, Brust helped boost the confindence of his team coming off a big win over a Michigan State team, Sunday.
Wisconsin answered a few critics who might have thought Wisconsin could be too soft, especially underneath.
There 78-70 win came courtesy of a balanced offensive attack.
Alongside Brust’s 20 point night was big man Frank Kaminsky, who did a lot of his work in the paint using a variety of back-to-the-basket moves to drop in 13 of his own.
Nigel Hayes, coming off his third Big Ten Freshman of The Week award, hit from inside and out and continued to improve at the free throw line, adding 15 to the winning effort.
Minnesota struggled containing Wisconsin from the perimeter as catch-and-shoot three pointers from Brust, Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker in the first half helped build a comfortable lead.
The Gophers, who came into the contest averaging just over 8 steals per game, got just two – a testament to Wisconsin’s ability to take care of the basketball on the offensive end.
Kaminsky, Hayes and Dekker combined efforts to shut down Mo Walker who was held to just three points and two boards – far off his 18 and 9 performance back in January when the Gophers toppled Wisconsin by 13.
Wisconsin forced Minnesota into 13 turnovers of their own, and shot 49 percent from the floor.
They hit 30 of 36 free throws on the night, many late in the second half to keep the game at bay through the final minutes.
Andre Hollins, who after a few games away played full time for the second straight game, led a late push for the Gophers. He poured in 22 on 6 of 12 shooting from the floor. Four of his makes came from behind the three point line.
Looking at the big picture in Big Ten play, the win for the Badgers (7-5 Big Ten) keeps the slim championship hopes alive going into Ann Arbor this weekend to meet the league-leading Michigan Wolverines
It’s the fourth straight loss for Minnesota who falls to 16-9 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten.