INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Coach Bo Ryan had never won a game in the Big Ten tournament during his three seasons at Wisconsin.
He can finally scratch that goal off his “to-do” list, thanks to Mike Wilkinson and Devin Harris.
Wilkinson scored 22 points and shut down Kris Humphries, and Harris added 21 points to lead Wisconsin to a 66-52 win over Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday night.
“It’s nice to be playing again tomorrow,” Ryan said.
The Badgers (22-6) had lost three in a row in the tournament prior to Friday’s win. Their last tourney win came in 2000.
Wilkinson and Harris were both 8-of-14 from the field for the 10th-ranked Badgers, who will play Michigan State in the semifinals Saturday. The Spartans beat Northwestern 68-55.
Wilkinson scored 14 of his points in the second half. His jumper gave Wisconsin a 53-43 lead with 6:41 to play, but his defense on Humphries, the Big Ten freshman of the year, was even more impressive.
The lanky Wilkinson frustrated and harassed Humphries in the first half and completely shut him down in the second.
Humphries was 3-for-10 from the field and had eight points as the Gophers (12-18) fell behind 30-22 at halftime. The only freshman ever to lead the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding was unable to get position on the low block thanks to Wilkinson’s smothering defense.
“I just wanted to keep him from getting the ball,” Wilkinson said. “If he can’t get it, he can’t score. For the most part, we kept him in front of us and made him take some tough jump shots.”
The going only got tougher in the second half. Humphries was held scoreless on two shots for the first 13 minutes of the period. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting, well below his 21-point average. Humphries also had nine rebounds.
It was the second rough tournament outing for Humphries, who was 4-for-21 in the Gophers’ win over Purdue in the first round. But Humphries still managed 20 points in that game thanks to making 11 of 13 free throws. He was just 1-for-1 from the line against the Badgers.
Humphries wasn’t the only Gophers player to have trouble with the Wisconsin defense. Minnesota turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 19 Wisconsin points.
The Badgers were also able to stop Michael Bauer on the perimeter, a huge key to 10th-seeded Minnesota’s upset of Purdue in the first round.
Bauer scored 16 points and had four 3-pointers in that game. On Friday, however, he was held to nine points and was just 1-for-6 from 3-point range.
“They were really pressuring me on the 3-pointers,” Bauer said. “They don’t give you much time. They make you work for every shot.”
With Bauer and his teammates failing to loosen up the Wisconsin defense from the outside, the Badgers were able to collapse on Humphries and force him to take jumpers.
“Yesterday, Bauer was the difference for them,” Ryan said. “We made him have a little tougher looks than what Purdue did.”
The Badgers were just as tough on offense.
Harris, the Big Ten player of the year, scored 13 points in the first half, including two dazzling drives to the basket.
He effectively sealed the win with a four-point play that gave Wisconsin a 59-47 lead with just under four minutes to play.
When Harris wasn’t scoring from the perimeter or slashing to the basket, Wilkinson was converting nifty reverse layups and wide open jumpers.
“That combination was too much for us,” Monson said.
The Gophers never could find a way to stop Wisconsin in the second half. The Badgers shot 54 percent in the half and 45 percent for the game.
Minnesota also was never able to put together any sustained offense. They failed to make two baskets in a row for the final 16 minutes of the game.
“We never hit two jumpers in a row,” Monson said. “Against a defense like that, you have to hit some jumpers and we weren’t able to and it snowballed.”
Adam Boone had 12 points and four assists, and Bauer had 11 rebounds for Minnesota.