The Gophers dug themselves a large hole in their final game of the regular season and couldn’t dig out of it.
Minnesota lost 62-49 to Wisconsin on Wednesday night at Williams Arena in its lone regular-season meeting with the Badgers.
The Badgers led 40-24 at halftime and earned their 11th victory in the last 12 games over the shorthanded Gophers.
“You got your rival in town; you want to have everybody juiced up, and you just didn’t have that feel,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “It’s hard when you don’t have all the options and you want to give them your best shot. So that was challenging.”
Minnesota played without guards Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey after all were suspended for the season on Tuesday.
In their absence, freshman guard Stephon Sharp led the team with 16 points, making his second consecutive start at point guard.
“I’ve been getting more reps in practice at the point, and that’s helped a lot,” Sharp said. “Last game I played a lot of minutes, so I feel more comfortable on the court.”
Freshman forward Jordan Murphy added 15 points, and sophomore center Bakary Konate grabbed 14 rebounds.
Senior forward Joey King scored six points and added four rebounds in his final home game at Williams Arena. King was honored before the game as part of the team’s senior night.
The Badgers attempted and made fewer free throws than the Gophers and were tied with them in rebounds, but they shot much better on offense and were in control the entire game.
Wisconsin started the game playing well on both sides of the ball, forcing seven turnovers in the first half that turned into 13 points. The Badgers also shot 55.2 percent in the first half and were nearly unstoppable on offense.
The Gophers struggled on offense in the first half and shot 6-20 from the field with only four assists.
Minnesota was more aggressive in the second half and went into the paint to score.
Murphy scored only two points in the first half but forced his way inside and put up 13 points in the second half.
The Gophers were able to increase their shooting percentage slightly in the second half but still finished the game with a 33.3 shooting percentage.
Minnesota outscored the Badgers by three points in the second half but never came close to erasing its deficit.
The team’s brightest moment came with a minute left in the game when King came off for the final time at Williams Arena and was given a standing ovation from the crowd.
“A lot of people in the stands don’t just see me as just a basketball player but a good person,” King said.