Maryland's Brionna Jones, left, drives to the basket as Syracuse's Briana Day defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton
December 02, 2015

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Eight games into the season, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan isn't yet sure what he has, except for one thing - the Badgers are a gritty bunch.

Shrugging off an embarrassing 17-point loss at then-No.7 Oklahoma on the weekend, the Badgers rallied past No. 14 Syracuse 66-58 in overtime on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Wisconsin (5-3) overcame an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers by crashing the glass for a 51-25 edge, pounding the ball inside the Orange's zone defense for a 30-14 edge in the paint, and taking advantage of Syracuse's woeful free-throw shooting (11 of 20).

''This is what we have,'' Ryan said. ''People started having contests - how are you going to play tonight? - because if we aren't the biggest mystery right now in the country, I don't know who is. The way we were throwing the ball around, those can come back to haunt you.''

Nigel Hayes had 15 points and 12 rebounds, converting a critical three-point play to break a tie in overtime, and Ethan Happ led the Badgers with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

''I think it's us just coming together,'' Hayes said. ''I tried my best to be the vocal leader out there, let everyone know everything's all right, we're going to pick it up and turn it around. I think we did a good job responding, even though we had some adversity.''

Ironically, a turnover by Syracuse in the final seconds of regulation gave Wisconsin a chance and the Badgers capitalized.

Playing with four fouls, Bronson Koenig swished a 3 from the left corner to tie the game at 53-all with 1:21 left in regulation, and after Hayes traveled with 36 seconds left the Orange held for the last shot.

The strategy backfired when Trevor Cooney's pass to Tyler Lydon underneath went through his hands out of bounds with 10.4 seconds left.

Vitto Brown missed a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, but the Badgers outscored the Orange 13-5 in the extra period.

''We're resilient. We don't get down on ourselves,'' Koenig said. ''We learn from our mistakes.''

Syracuse missed five straight free throws in the final 5:23 of regulation, and that cost the Orange a victory.

''I thought we did a tremendous job to get back in and getting the lead, but we cannot miss free throws coming down the stretch,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''We had great opportunities to keep the lead and when you don't, when you miss those and you give the other team a chance, they're going to make it eventually.''

Syracuse (6-1) beat Connecticut and Texas A&M last week to win the Battle 4 Atlantis and zoom into the national rankings this week after being an afterthought in the preseason.

Hayes snapped a 55-all tie with a layup and was fouled by Tyler Roberson. He calmly sank the free throw with 2:14 left in the extra period and Happ's dunk off an inbounds pass sealed it with 90 seconds left.

A 3 by Michael Gbinije gave the Orange brief hope in the final minute, but the Badgers sank their free throws to hold on.

Gbinije led Syracuse with 19 points and Cooney had 14. Kaleb Joseph had six points and two assists in his first extended play of the year, but freshmen Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon combined for only 10 points, hitting 1 of 10 from beyond the arc. Syracuse finished 7 of 24 on 3-pointers, well off its pace this season.

''We didn't make the plays in the game we had to make, like converting free throws, we had some open shots that just didn't fall for us tonight,'' Gbinije said. ''Give them credit, they did a good job of making us work on defense and they were patient on the offensive end.''

Syracuse finished 7 of 24 on 3-pointers, well off its pace of 41.1 percent coming into the game.

''A team that lives by the 3 dies by the 3,'' Hayes said. ''They kind of shot themselves out of it trying to shoot their way into it.''

TIP-INS:

Wisconsin: The Badgers are 8-9 in the history of the Challenge. ... No team in the nation has more freshmen than Wisconsin's eight newcomers. ... Wisconsin is 39-10 away from home over the last three seasons, the most road/neutral wins and second-best winning percentage among major power conference teams.

CLOSE SHAVE: Wisconsin led for 19:57, Syracuse for 14:36, and the game was tied 10 times for 10:27.

FRESHMEN FALTER: Syracuse's Richardson was 3 for 11 from the floor, 1 of 7 from long range, and 1 for 3 on free throws after averaging 13.8 points in the first six games. Lydon was 2 for 6 and missed all three 3-pointers he attempted after hitting 10 of 17 prior to the game.

Syracuse: This was Syracuse's third appearance in the Challenge. The Orange defeated Indiana 69-52 in 2013 and lost 66-63 at Michigan last year. ... Gbinije is 24 of 47 (51 percent) on 3-pointers.

UP NEXT:

Wisconsin hosts Temple on Saturday.

Syracuse is at Georgetown on Saturday.

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AP College Basketball Website: www.collegebasketball.ap.org

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