Two things appear more and more clear each time Wisconsin walks off the court: Greg Gard 100-percent deserves the permanent head-coaching job, and the Badgers easily belong in the NCAA tournament field of 68.
At this point, the question becomes how high a seed can they get?
For the ninth time in the last 10 games, Wisconsin was victorious on Wednesday night, this time pulling off another top-10 upset with a 67-59 takedown of No. 8 Iowa in Iowa City.
Since opening the Big Ten season with just one win in their first five games, the Badgers are 9-1 in their last 10, a stretch that includes victories over four ranked teams: vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, at Maryland and at Iowa. Wednesday's win sent Wisconsin into a momentary tie with Michigan State for fourth place in the conference standings with a 10-5 league record.
The Badgers shot well Wednesday night, using 51.9-percent shooting in a closely contested first half to head to the break with a lead, even if it was a small one of just a point.
The Hawkeyes burst out of the break with seven straight points to build a six-point lead, and the lead was six at the second half's midway point. But then the Badgers punched back with back-to-back 3-pointers from Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig to tie the game, and a Khalil Iverson dunk gave Wisconsin back the lead, 53-51 with under nine minutes to go. The game was 56-all with six minutes to play — Peter Jok tying the game with a bucket — but a Koenig triple a minute later put the Badgers in front for good. Iowa went ice cold from there, missing its final eight shots and scoring just three points, all on free throws, over the game's final six minutes.
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The Hawkeyes were done in by miserable second-half shooting, posting just a 26.7-percent mark over the final 20 minutes, part of a 32.7-percent shooting on the evening. Iowa also turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 13 Wisconsin points. All that despite a big rebounding advantage, 43-30, with 20 offensive rebounds leading to 14 points. The Hawkeyes also went 18-for-25 from the free-throw line, as opposed to the Badgers going just 7-for-12.
But Wisconsin had a giant edge in bench scoring, getting 23 points from its reserves, including nine points apiece from Iverson and Jordan Hill. Iowa got just four points from non-starters. The Badgers also hit twice as many triples as the Hawkeyes, with 10.
Wisconsin held Iowa to a season-low 59 points. It's the eighth team this season that has scored a season-low against the Badgers.
Koenig led the way for the Badgers with 15 points, including four made 3s, and Hayes finished with 10, going just 3-for-11 from the field.
Jok had a terrific night scoring with 21 points for the Hawkeyes. Anthony Clemmons had 13 points, Jarrod Uthoff had 11 points (albeit on 3-for-12 shooting) and Adam Woodbury grabbed a whopping 18 rebounds.
The win sent Wisconsin to 18-10 overall and 10-5 in the conference. The test will now be how high a seed the Badgers can lock down in the conference tournament. Three games remain on the regular-season schedule against Michigan, Minnesota and Purdue.
The loss snapped a 16-game home winning streak for Iowa, which dropped to 20-7 overall and 11-4 in the league. The Hawkeyes are losers of three of their last four and dropped out of a tie for first place in the Big Ten standings. The final three games on Iowa's regular-season schedule are against Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan.