There are low-scoring games. And then there's what the Badgers did in the first half Friday night.
With its season on the line, Wisconsin scored just 16 points through the first 20 minutes of play in its Round of 64 NCAA tournament game against Pitt. But that ridiculously low output in the first half didn't prevent a second-half comeback, and that's exactly what the Badgers turned in, coming back to beat Pitt, 47-43, and advance to the Round of 32.
Pitt led by as many as 12 in the first half, a jumper with about seven minutes before halftime making it 18-6. But Wisconsin closed the first half on a 10-4 run, meaning that despite having just 16 points and going to the break shooting 6-for-24, it was merely a six-point game.
The Badgers continued that trend, opening the second half on a 9-2 burst, extending that halftime-straddling run to 19-6 and giving Wisconsin its first lead of the game at 25-24. From there, though, Pitt returned the favor, answering with a 10-4 run of its own to establish a five-point advantage with under 12 minutes to play. The Badgers got within one a couple times before Vitto Brown's 3-pointer with five and a half minutes to go put Wisconsin in front again, 38-36. Pitt took a 40-39 lead with just under four minutes to play, only for Brown to bury another triple a little more than a minute later. That bucket put the Badgers ahead for good, free throws holding off the Panthers when they made it a one-point game late.
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Wisconsin's offensive effort was dumbfounding, the Badgers shooting just 32.1 percent on the game. They were 17-for-53 from the field and 4-for-19 from 3, with Brown hitting three of those triples. Wisconsin did knock down nine free throws, while Pitt attempted just seven. The Badgers turned the ball over just six times.
Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ was the brightest star for Wisconsin, scoring a team-high 15 points and coming a rebound shy of a double-double. Nigel Hayes had 12 points, and Brown scored 11 points. Hayes and Bronson Koenig, veterans of the Badgers' back-to-back Final Four runs, were overshadowed by Happ and Brown. Hayes and Koenig combined for 14 points on 4-for-25 shooting, while Happ and Brown combined for 26 points on 10-for-25 shooting.
Wisconsin advanced to the Round of 32 with the win, giving the Badgers at least one win in five of the last six NCAA tournaments. They'll play the winner of Xavier and Weber State on Sunday.