Looking for their 11th Top-10 win under head coach Greg GardWisconsin (4-1) couldn’t get two timely stops to pull off the upset over No. 3 Kansas (6-0) in the Battle4Atlantis semifinals.
Trailing 68-67, the Jayhawks got a putback from sophomore guard Bobby Pettifordwho scored his first points of the game, with .2 seconds on the clock to steal a 69-68 win after squandering a 15-point second half lead.
The Badgers also had their chance to close it out at the end of regulation.
Clinging to a 63-60 lead after a pair of free throws from true freshman guard Connor Essegianwho was fantastic in the second half, UW once again couldn’t corral the rebound, leading to an open 3-pointer from senior forward Kevin McCullar with 12 seconds left to send things to the extra session.
The Badgers rode senior forward Tyler Wahl down the stretch. Wahl finished with team-high 23 points (8-19), including 14 in the second half on 4-of-7 shooting. Wahl originally had the go-ahead bucket in overtime and scored all five points for UW in the extra session. Going back to the second half, Wahl scored 14 of the final 16 points for the Badgers.
Trailing 41-26 with 15:46 remaining, UW looked to be out of it, especially on the heels of a lackluster first half in which they shot just 30.8 percent from the floor.
KU started just 2-of-16 from the field, but UW could not capitalize and never led by more than three in the first half. Once the Jayhawks started seeing the ball go through the net, the Badgers struggled to keep pace. KU made 5-of-6, including a 4-of-5 mark from 3-point range at one point, ending the opening period on a 19-7 run to take a 33-20 lead into the locker room.
Getting some life from Essegian, UW used a 15-5 run to tie the game at 48 apiece with 8:00 remaining. after junior guard Max Klesmitwho chipped in with 13 points, tied the game at 48 with a step-back 3-pointer, Essegian found junior forward Carter Gilmore under the rim to give the Badgers a 52-50 lead, their first since it was 6-3 early in the first half.
Essegian scored a career-high 17 points (6-12) to go along with five rebounds.
As UW did with Wahl, KU rode their star, junior Jalen Wilson. Scoring a game-high 29 points, Wilson helped the Jayhawks open up a 60-52 lead at the final media timeout, before the Badgers and Wahl closed on an 11-3 run to send the game into overtime.
As a team, UW shot 38.7 percent (24-62) from the field, including 9-of-29 from 3-point range. The Badgers also committed just six turnovers, but were out-rebounded 50-35, surrendering 14 offensive boards.
UW fell to 1-4 all-time against KU in the first meeting between the two schools since 1969. The Badgers will also miss the title game of the Battle4Atlantis for the first time in history after reaching the championship in both 2014 and 2018.
UW will take on the loser of No. 22 Tennessee and USC in Friday’s third place game.