One by one, Bo Ryan's players are regaining their shooting touch. That bodes well for No. 21 Wisconsin and could be a troubling development for the rest of the Big Ten down the stretch. Senior guard Ben Brust joined the club Thursday night against rival Minnesota. Brust, who had been mired in a frustrating three-point shooting funk, hit 4 of 4 shots from beyond the arc to help the Badgers grind out a 78-70 victory in front of an energetic crowd of 17,249 at the Kohl Center. Brust entered the night having made only 10 of his last 40 three-point attempts (25%) over a span of six games. That included a 1-of-7 performance Sunday against Michigan State. He went 3 of 3 in the first half to help UW build a 35-28 lead it never lost. Brust hit 5 of 7 shots overall and finished with a team-high 20 points and six rebounds. "Definitely good to see the first one go down," Brust said. "It's never a bad thing to make all the ones you take. ... It was the same type of looks. I just shot them with confidence. You've got to have shooter's amnesia. "Forget the last one; next one is going in." UW (20-5, 7-5 Big Ten) won its third consecutive game to retain sole possession of fourth place and move to within one-half game of third-place Iowa, which was idle Thursday. The Hawkeyes (18-6, 7-4) play Saturday at Penn State. "I'm done looking at anything," Brust said, referring to the standings. "I just think we need to focus on whoever is next." Minnesota (16-9, 5-7), which handed UW an 81-68 loss last month in Minneapolis, suffered its fourth loss in the last five games and lost for the 13th time in 14 games at the Kohl Center. "They did a great job of adjusting to the things we hurt them with our first game," said Minnesota coach Richard Pitino. UW made it look easy at times against a team that came in averaging 74.2 points per game — until the Gophers used a late barrage of three-pointers to chip away at a 15-point deficit. Frank Kaminsky attacked the rim consistently — he hit 9 of 9 free-throw attempts and UW hit 30 of 36 overall — and finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Sam Dekker added 10 points, seven rebounds, a block and tremendous energy on both ends of the floor. Freshman Nigel Hayes hit 5 of 7 field-goal attempts and finished with 15 points and four rebounds. Hayes has scored in double figures in each of the last four games. "When we're effective," Ryan said, "I tell you, the catalyst still has been Nigel. Without a doubt." Traevon Jackson, who did not practice Wednesday because he was ill, played a solid game. He finished with nine points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and only one turnover in 28 minutes. Guards Andre Hollins and Malik Smith scored 22 and 14 points, respectively, for the Gophers. They combined to hit 8 of 13 three-pointers. But guard DeAndre Mathieu and center Maurice Walker, who scored 18 points apiece in the teams' first meeting, were quiet Thursday. Walker, who helped get Kaminsky and Hayes into early foul trouble in the teams' first meeting, was a non-factor this time. Walker, who had averaged 14.2 points in the Gophers' previous five games, picked up his second foul with 12:42 left in the opening half. He started the second half but picked up his third foul just 1:44 into the half and exited immediately. When he returned, he played tentatively on defense and finished with five points. Mathieu finished with eight points and made only 3 of 10 shots. "Frank and I didn't take too kindly to what happened when we played them in Minnesota," Hayes said. "They came in and established a great post presence."
Ben Brust, Badgers shoot down Gophers
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Feb 14