MADISON, Wis.— Amir Coffey scored 21 points and Minnesota put No. 22 Wisconsin in an early hole before holding off a furious late rally to win 59-52 on Thursday night.
The Golden Gophers (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten) ended an eight-game losing streak in the rivalry with their first victory at Wisconsin since 2009.
The Badgers (10-4, 2-1) couldn't capitalize on several opportunities down the stretch, particularly at the free throw line. Wisconsin went 3 of 10 from the line during one span, including Ethan Happ missing the front end on back-to-back 1-and-1 situations after the Badgers had cut the deficit to seven with just more than eight minutes to go.
Happ's steal and dunk coupled with D'Mitrik Trice's floater eventually shaved the margin to 49-47 with two minutes left. But then Coffey hit a runner and Dupree McBrayer turned a steal into a breakaway to end the threat.
Minnesota built an early lead as it regularly double-teamed Happ in the post, forcing the Badgers' leading scorer to kick the ball out to the perimeter. Wisconsin couldn't make the Gophers pay for that strategy, shooting just 2 of 14 on 3-pointers in the first half.
As Coffey reeled off 15 straight points for Minnesota, the Gophers opened a 29-14 lead at the break, holding Wisconsin to a season low for points in the first half.
Happ finished with 17 to lead Wisconsin.