In a final minute of regulation filled with clutch shots and go-ahead buckets, Wisconsin’s Chucky Hepburn called glass — and then he called game. With 1.5 seconds left on Tuesday evening between the No. 10 Badgers and visiting No. 8 Purdue, the Wisconsin freshman broke a 67-all game with a heave from the 3-point line that smooched off the glass and into the cup, giving the Badgers at least a share of the Big Ten title for the second time in three years in a 70-67 win.
Hepburn’s go-ahead bucket gave him his 15th, 16th and 17th points of the night and gave blessing to the congregation in Madison to start the coronation for the program’s fifth regular-season title since 2000. Purdue had little chance to force overtime and its inbounds play on the ensuing play was interception by Wisconsin as the clock expired.
Hepburn’s shot came at the end of a frenetic final sequence that fittingly started with a kiss off the glass after teammate Johnny Davis banked in a jumper with 25 seconds left to give Wisconsin a 67-64 lead and ended with his own that effectively sealed the win. In between, Purdue star Jaden Ivey added drama to it all with a game-tying 3 from the top of the key.
Hepburn, a freshman who was averaging 7.8 points per game on the season, was one of three Wisconsin players who finished in double figures in scoring. Tyler Wahl led the way at 19 points and star Johnny Davis added 17 after a slow start. Purdue, meanwhile, was led by Jaden Ivey’s 22 points.
Wisconsin, now 15-1 this season in games decided by six points or fewer, can claim the outright Big Ten title Sunday as Nebraska visits Madison.
Here are three takeaways from Wisconsin’s dramatic win on Tuesday.
1. Purdue is never dead
Nearly halfway through the second half, Wisconsin jumped out to its biggest lead of the game and took control by 11 points. That’s around the same time when Purdue turned on the jets, eventually mounting a comeback that led to a lead before Wisconsin finished the job. It marked the seventh time this season the Boilermakers have trailed by double digits in a game but was only the fourth time it hasn’t been able to overcome it with a win (with the three prior comeback wins all coming in the final 11 minutes). It’s probably not good that Purdue consistently has to dig its way out of holes this season, but credit where it’s due here: Purdue never is dead, even when it feels like it should be. Keep that little nugget in your cap for March.
That said . . .
2. Purdue is dead in the Big Ten race
A win over Wisconsin on Tuesday was a necessary one for Purdue to keep its Big Ten regular-season title hopes alive. Alas, late-game Jaden Ivey heroics couldn’t help overcome the double-bank in Madison. The Boilermakers fall to two games off Wisconsin’s lead in the standings with the loss and the Badgers move up 1.5 games over Illinois, so it’s all but a wrap for the regular-season race.
3. Johnny Davis comes alive after slow start
All season long, Davis has been the superstar who routinely shows up in the biggest games and the biggest moments. And while Tuesday he was a late arrival to the party — he struggled in the first half, hitting just one shot from the field — his second half arrival helped seal the deal. He finished with 10 points in the final 20 minutes of action and made one of the most clutch shots of the game as he banked in a 2-pointer from the top of the key with 25 seconds left to give Wisconsin a 67-64 cushion.