No. 15 Wisconsin holds off Northwestern, stays perfect in Big Ten

Max Klesmit had a season-high 24 points and No. 15 Wisconsin scored the final eight points to hold off visiting Northwestern 71-63 in a showdown between Big Ten leaders on Saturday at Madison, Wisc.

Matthew Nicholson hit a pair of free throws to bring Northwestern even at 63-63 with 2:51 remaining, but AJ Storr countered with a jumper and then added two free throws to put the Badgers up 67-63 with 1:52 left.

Wisconsin (13-3, 5-0 Big Ten) closed it out with four consecutive free throws over the final 29 seconds as the Wildcats missed their last five shots over the final 4:16.

Wisconsin extended its overall winning streak to six games and is 5-0 to open Big Ten play for the first time since 2007-08.

Klesmit hit 9 of 13 shots, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range. AJ Storr added 14 points and Tyler Wahl had 11.

Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the floor (22 of 44), and from 3-point range (7 of 14). The Badgers hit 20 of 26 free throws (76.9 percent), while the Wildcats were 11 of 15 (73.3 percent).

Boo Buie had 22 points and Brooks Barnhizer added 13 for Northwestern (12-4, 3-2), which trimmed a 12-point deficit to 32-25 at the half. The Wildcats opened the second half with a 10-4 run, pulling within 36-35 on a layup by Barnhizer with just under 16 minutes remaining.

Klesmit hit a 3-pointer and then added a layup to put Wisconsin up 57-50 with 9:15 remaining, but Northwestern rallied to within 59-57 on Barnhizer’s 3-pointer with 6:54 left.

Wisconsin hit 8 of 9 field goals in a seven-minute span to open a 32-20 lead with 3:03 left in the first half. Klesmit hit a pair of 3-pointers to fuel the 17-3 run. But the Badgers failed to score the rest of the way, missing their final four shots of the first half.

Wisconsin shot 55.0 percent in the first half, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, to offset 10 turnovers before the break. The Badgers, who came in averaging 9.6 turnovers per game, had seven in their first 13 possessions.

Buie had 15 first-half points for the Wildcats, hitting 5 of 7 shots, including 2 of 3 from deep.