Michigan learned the hard way that space is the last thing that you give Wisconsin's Ben Brust after the junior guard drained an improbable three-pointer from near midcourt to force overtime and later the game-winner in the extra session.
“I did expect him to be a little bit closer,” Brust told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of Michigan's Caris LeVert, who defended him on the final play of the second half. “I thought I was going to have to go by him."
“But I enough space. I shot it with confidence and it went down.”
While the game-tying, buzzer-beating three-pointer by Brust may have been the most remarkable bucket from Wisconsin's 65-62 win over No. 3 Michigan on Saturday it was hardly the only big time bucket in the thrilling Big Ten tilt.
With the teams separated by just a point at the intermission and neither team holding a lead greater than six points in the second half, every basket was crucial. But the pressure on the floor at the Kohl Center increased as the minutes marched on. After Wisconsin's Jared Berggren canned a jumper with 3:27 remaining to pull the Badgers within a point, 55-54, the teams traded misses and turnovers for more than two minutes.
The Wolverines still held that slim 55-54 lead as the game clock ticked toward the final minute of the second half. With 1:06 remaining, Michigan point guard Trey Burke pulled up for a fadeaway jumper from the foul line (36-second mark above). Good! The ease with which Burke got loose, got up and knocked down that bucket certainly seemed to bode well for Michigan's chances to escape Madison with a win.
Not so fast.
This was just the beginning of an incredible sequence of high-pressure makes for both teams en route to overtime. Up next, Berggren took matters into his own hands. The 6' 10" senior drove around his defender and into the lane, switched the ball to his right hand and rose up for a powerful dunk. Not only did he put Burke on a poster but he drew the foul. After a timeout, Berggren drained the free throw.
Berggren's heroics set the stage for what seemed, at the time, to be the game-winning shot. With the game level, 57-57, Burke initiated the Michigan offense and got the ball to Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wing. With a hand in his face, Hardaway rose up at the top of the arc and drained a three-point shot with 2.4 seconds to play.
Still with a foul to give, Michigan somehow couldn't contain Brust as he caught the inbounds pass near midcourt in the final seconds. With just enough space he got off his game-tying shot a second before the buzzer.
"He did pull an Evan Turner. He shot that ball, too," marveled ESPN analyst Dan Dakich as the game headed to overtime even at 60-60.
Although both teams seemed drained as the overtime began, Brust had one more key shot left in him. With the score knotted at 62-62 in the final minute of the extra session, the junior made sure that his buzzer beater came in a win.
Thanks to Brust, Berggren and the rest of Bo Ryan's Badgers, Wisconsin continues to be a hard-luck destination for teams ranked in the top five.