Bloomington, Ind. — Brad Davison and a bunch of Wisconsin players jumped around as the buzzer sounded Saturday, celebrating the end of a five-year Big Ten title drought.
They just wished assistant coach Howard Moore could have been there with them.
Ten months after an automobile accident killed his wife, Jen, and 9-year-old daughter, Jaidyn, and left him with severe burns, Moore was first and foremost in the team’s thoughts after No. 24 Wisconsin beat Indiana 60-56.
“This whole period, this whole year we’ve been thinking about him,” Davison said. “Not a day goes by that we don’t think about him, and obviously this season was dedicated to him. So to go out like this with a regular-season Big Ten championship is crazy.”
Moore’s 13-year-old son, Jerell, suffered minor injuries in the crash that also killed the wrong-way driver who ran into the family’s vehicle. In July, Howard Moore suffered a heart attack and the players haven’t seen him since last summer.
The Badgers assured themselves at least a share of the Big Ten title. Losses by ninth-ranked Maryland and No. 15 Michigan State on Sunday would give Wisconsin the outright title.
“As soon as I can, I am going to take that trophy over to see Howard and let him rub it, and kiss it, and hold it,” coach Greg Gard said. “I cannot be prouder of these three guys that have been through hell and back in the last nine months that we had to face as a team and personally. They’ve stuck together. They’ve been phenomenal. I do not even have words to describe how good they have been.”
All season, Wisconsin players have worn warmup shirts with “4 Moore” on the back. Gard took note of that after this win.
“How ironic that the final difference is four points?” Gard said.
The Badgers’ achievement this season included a months-long battle with the NCAA over Micah Potter’s eligibility and an uncharacteristic 5-5 start.
Davison’s tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:05 left gave Wisconsin the lead for good. The Badgers excelled on the other end of the floor, too, holding Indiana to one basket in the final 10 minutes.
Nate Reuvers finished with 17 points and Potter added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Davison made two free throws with 7.1 seconds to seal the win and had 11 points.
Wisconsin (21-10, 14-6) has won eight straight.
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers (19-12, 9-11) lost for the third in four games – and this was one that got away. Indiana broke a 34-34 second-half tie with a 13-5 run and still appeared to be in control after taking a 51-44 lead at the 6:52 mark.
Instead, the Badgers scored 12 straight, forced 12 straight errant shots and never trailed after Davison’s 3. Devonte Green scored all 16 of his points in the first half to lead the Hoosiers.
“They did a great job of being able to claw and hang, and then I thought their front court really finished us off,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.
Gard found the closing chapter to be fitting.
“That last seven minutes was kind of a microcosm of what we’ve gone through, to fight uphill and find a way to battle back,” he said. “This has been unbelievable – the guts, the heart, the toughness of this group, how they’ve matured. They didn’t have it in November. They have it in March.”
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Rutgers 71, (at) Purdue 68, OT: Geo Baker scored 19 points to help lift Rutgers to an overtime victory over Purdue in the final regular-season game for both teams.
Ron Harper Jr. added 15 points, including the winner, for the Scarlet Knights (20-11, 11-9 Big Ten).
Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic made a 3-pointer and tied the game at 66-all in overtime. But Harper Jr. answered immediately with his third 3-pointer to put the Scarlet Knights ahead for good at 69-66 with 1:10 to go.
Eric Hunter Jr. was fouled and sank two of three free throws to narrow the deficit to 69-68. Baker hit a shot with 11 seconds left to make it 71-68. Purdue failed to get a 3-point shot off in time.
Stefanovic was high for the Boilermakers (16-15, 9-11) with 22 points. Hunter added 12 points for Purdue, which saw its NCAA Tournament hopes dwindle.
Hunter missed an opportunity to win in regulation for Purdue when he missed the second of two free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining. His first free throw tied it a 61-all. The Scarlet Knights got the rebound, but were unable to get a shot off.
Hunter’s layup had put Purdue ahead 60-59 with 30 seconds to go. But Baker answered with a step-back jumper to put Rutgers ahead.
Trailing 39-33, Purdue launched an 8-0 run to take a brief 41-39 lead.
The game remained tight over the next several minutes. Purdue center Matt Haarms electrified the crowd with a big dunk following a missed 3-pointer by Jahaad Proctor to put the Boilermakers ahead 49-47.
Any momentum was short-lived as Rutgers regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Baker to grab a 51-49 lead with 5:43 left.
With 1:27 left, Baker hit two free throws to push the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 59-55. Stefanovic sank a 3-pointer while falling down to narrow the deficit to 59-58.
Rutgers’ Jacob Young missed two free throws with 57 seconds left.
In the first half, Young sank a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to give Rutgers a 36-33 lead at the break. The Scarlet Knights made 6 of 9 3-pointers in the opening half while Purdue was 3 of 13. In addition, Rutgers held a 23-13 rebounding edge in the first half.
Overall, Rutgers shot 44% and Purdue 34%.
(At) Northwestern 80, at No. 20 Penn State 69: Miller Kopp scored 21 points, and struggling Northwestern beat No. 20 Penn State.
Penn State (21-10, 11-9) came in looking to head into the Big Ten Tournament on a winning note, only to stumble against one of the worst teams in the conference and lose for the fifth time in six games. Northwestern (8-22, 3-17) beat a ranked team for the first time since knocking off No. 20 Michigan on Feb. 6, 2018.
The Wildcats went on a 17-2 run down the stretch to bump their lead to 16 and came away with the win after losing 13 of 14. They moved a half-game ahead of last-place Nebraska.
Kopp made five 3-pointers. Boo Buie scored 13 points, and Northwestern regrouped after blowing an early 14-point lead.
Lamar Stevens continued to close in on Penn State’s all-time scoring record, finishing with 18 points. That gave him 2,207 in four seasons, six shy of the mark set by Talor Battle from 2007-11.
Myles Dread scored 14, nailing four 3s. But the Nittany Lions got knocked off again after losing to Iowa and Michigan State.
Northwestern led 55-54 midway through the second half when Buie converted a three-point play to start the decisive run. Kopp hit two 3-pointers during that stretch, including one from the corner that drew loud cheers from the crowd. Buie then hit one of his own to make it 72-56 with five minutes remaining.
Penn State missed its first eight shots and trailed by as many as 14 in the first half before turning things around.
The Nittany Lions tied it at 32 with 1:31 remaining on Stevens’ hook shot. Two free throws by John Harrar with just under a minute left gave them their first lead of the game, before Northwestern’s Ryan Young hit two of his own with 15 seconds remaining.
Nebraska players Cam Mack and Dachon Burke are suspended indefinitely and will miss the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale at Minnesota on Sunday.
Coach Fred Hoiberg cited unspecified violations of team rules.
Mack will miss a second straight game. Lincoln police ticketed him Wednesday for negligent driving after he struck a vehicle from behind and left the scene.
Mack has started 25 games and averages 12 points, 6.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Burke has started 27 games and averages 12 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
The Huskers (7-23, 2-17) are last in the Big Ten and have dropped 15 straight games, the longest losing streak among Power Five conference teams.