MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Wisconsin keeps losing players but not games, thanks to Devin Harris.
The junior point guard scored a career-high 38 points in No. 14 Wisconsin’s 80-66 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night to make up for the loss of starting guard Maurice “Boo” Wade, who was suspended following an assault charge.
“This team just doesn’t fall down,” Harris said. “We may stumble. But we’re not going to fall. It’s another setback, that’s all. Another hurdle.”
Wade was replaced in the starting lineup by Freddie Owens, who had missed three games with a foot injury. Earlier in the week, the Badgers announced forward Alando Tucker (foot) would miss the rest of the season.
The Badgers (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten) learned of Wade’s legal troubles about three hours before tip-off.
“We just treated it like another guy was injured,” said center Mike Wilkinson, who scored 15 points.
Zach Morley added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Badgers, who stayed atop the league standings and broke a school record established in 1915 with their 21st straight conference win at home.
Harris couldn’t miss. He was 10-of-12 from the floor, 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 13-of-14 from the foul line—and he didn’t turn the ball over once in 37 minutes.
“Find someone that had a better game this week—when it was truly needed,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said.
Harris’s 38-point performance was the Badgers’ best since Michael Finley scored a school-record 42 points against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 10, 1994.
Ryan refused to answer questions about Wade, citing privacy policies.
Wade was arrested Wednesday on charges he choked a 19-year-old woman, and the team suspended him indefinitely. He was held overnight at the Dane County Jail.
His arrest was just the latest in a string of off-field problems for Wisconsin athletes that forced the school to implement a new discipline policy in August. Under the new policy, athletes arrested for incidents involving drugs, gambling or violence are suspended from all competitions and practices until any charges have been addressed by the legal system.
Wade is scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday.
Harris, a junior, broke his career high of 30 points set against Illinois on Jan. 24. In his last three games, he’s scored 30, 29 and 38 points.
Minnesota coach Dan Monson wasn’t surprised that the Badgers barely missed Wade, their tenacious defender who also averages 7 points and 3.5 assists.
“No, this is a championship team,” Monson said. “They’ve won two straight Big Ten championships for a reason. They’re a team. They’re not about one individual. That didn’t surprise me at all. What makes them good is that they’re interchangeable parts.”
The Golden Gophers (8-12, 0-8) got 24 points and eight rebounds from freshman Kris Humphries, who capped a 20-3 run spanning halftime that erased a 14-point deficit and gave Minnesota a 39-36 lead.
But the Badgers outscored Minnesota 44-27 the rest of the way, recovering behind the sharp shooting of Harris, who sank a 3-pointer from 6 feet beyond the arc with Brent Lawson in his face for a 57-51 Wisconsin lead with 7:50 left.
The Gophers got no closer than four the rest of the way.
Humphries scored 10 of the Golden Gophers’ first 12 points but he got increasingly frustrated with the physical play inside by Badgers center Andreas Helmigk.
He drew a technical for staring down the official after getting hammered inside and took a seat with three fouls and 1:54 left in the half.
Humphries never got to the foul line and the Gophers only shot 13 free throws, one fewer than Harris shot all by himself.
“When one guy shoots more free throws than the whole other team, that’s tough on the road to overcome,” Monson said.