Coming off a strong finish in the Battle 4 Atlantis non-conference tournament in the Bahamas with a five-point win over USC, the Wisconsin Badgers returned home to the Kohl Center on Tuesday night.
Taking on Wake Forest as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Badgers would fall late thanks to a stellar performance by Tyree Appleby.
Here is a look back at Wisconsin's narrow 3-point loss at home.
After winning the opening tip, Wake Forest would grab an early 5-0 lead before Jordan Davis got the Badgers on the board with a three-point make a minute into the game. After the two team's exchanged buckets, Chucky Hepburn would give Wisconsin its first lead of the game on a three of his own.
With both teams shooting the ball well, Andrew Carr of Wake Forest would respond with a triple from the corner, and then Steven Crowl would tie the game up at 10 points apiece with 16:43 remaining in the first half. After a stoppage in play because of a clock error, Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby would keep the Demon Deacons' hot start going with a pair of made baskets, while the Badgers cooled off with a two-minute scoring drought to help give Wake Forest a 15-10 advantage at the first media timeout.
Following a Chucky Hepburn made jumper and a Wake Forest alley-oop, Steven Crowl would get back to work inside for the Badgers with a floater in the lane and a pair of made free throws to draw UW back within three, with 13 minutes left in the first half of play. However, Wake Forest would connect on a second-alley oop to give them 9-straight made shots in a row.
A Max Klesmit layup would ultimately send the two teams into the next media timeout, with Wake Forest still holding a three-point edge, 21-18 at the 11-minute mark of the first half.
Coming out of the timeout, Tyler Wahl would go on a personal 5-0 run to give the Badgers their second lead of the game. Back-to-back fouls on the Wisconsin and double-fouls on Damari Monsanto and Connor Essegian would grind the game to a halt. Monsanto had thrown Essegian to the ground after the whistle, but no flagrant was awarded.
Moments later, Tyler Wahl would pick up his second foul of the game just before the third media timeout of the half, as Wake Forest held a 24-23 lead with just over seven minutes left on the clock.
Neither team could get much going over the next four minutes, as both squads struggled through lengthy scoring droughts highlighted by eight combined turnovers and each team shooting 0-of-6 during the stretch. Reserve guard Isaac Lindsey would stop the bleeding with a deep three-pointer for the Badgers, but Wake Forest was still up 28-26 with two minutes to play.
Following a Chucky Hepburn three-pointer out of the timeout, Wake Forest would connect on a jumper, and Isaac Lindsey was called for a technical foul after attempting to draw a charge on the defensive end.
An offensive foul call on Steven Crowl would give four of Wisconsin's five starters two fouls late in the first half, much to the dismay of the home crowd, as Wake Forest proceeded to add to their lead with a putback dunk by Matthew Marsh with under a minute remaining.
With seconds remaining Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn would deliver a half-court buzzer-beater to cut into the deficit and make it a 37-34 game at halftime. Unhappy with the way the game was being called, UW head coach Greg Gard stuck around to speak with the officials at halftime, while the crew was booed heavily exiting the court.
After the intermission, Wake Forest guard Cameron Hildreth and forward Matthew Marsh would further extend the visitor's lead with back-to-back makes. The two teams would exchange baskets on the next two possessions, but a pair of free throws by Connor Essegian would trim it back to just a five-point game three minutes into the second half.
Wake Forest point guard Tyree Appleby would deliver a pretty layup through contact on the other end, to send the Demon Deacons into the media timeout with a seven-point advantage, 45-38.
From there, Chucky Hepburn would take over with a pair of three to trim the lead to just one. While Damari Monsanto would respond with a two-point jumper, Tyler Wahl would come up with back-to-back layups through contact to give the Badgers a 48-47 lead with 11:13 remaining in the contest.
Wake Forest would manage to regain the lead moments later thanks to a scoring drought by the Badgers, but freshman Connor Essegian would connect on his first three of the game to breathe life back into Wisconsin's offense. From there, consecutive threes by Steven Crowl and Connor Essegian would bring the Kohl Center to their feet and give the Badgers a 57-52 edge with just under eight minutes left to play.
Tyree Appleby would not back down though for Wake Forest. Even with Steven Crowl and Connor Essegian continuing to find a rhythm on offense, Appleby would carry the scoring load for the Demon Deacons with 11 points in three minutes to make it a 64-63 game with five minutes remaining.
Following a pair of free throws by Tyler Wahl, Damari Monsanto and Chucky Hepburn would exchange three-pointers, before Tyree Appleby would get downhill for an and-one to trim Wisconsin's lead to just one with two minutes to go.
Monsanto would give the Demon Deacons a late lead moments leader with a tough fadeaway jumper over Chucky Hepburn, to make it 72-71 with 1:27 on the clock and the Badgers with the ball.
Over the final minute and a half, Tyler Wahl would regain the lead for Wisconsin on the foul line, but Cameron Hildreth would hit a floater over Wahl on the other end to give Wake Forest the lead with under 30 ticks.
After a missed layup by Tyler Wahl from underneath the basket, a loose ball would give Wake Forest the ball with 13 seconds left to play. From there, the Badgers would fail to make a run, and the Demon Deacons would prevail 78-75 behind a huge effort by Tyree Appleby.
Players of note
- Chucky Hepburn (Wisconsin)
Stats: 23 points (7-of-18 shooting), three rebounds, and two assists in 35 minutes
After finding his shooting stroke with 17-points against USC in the Bahamas, Chucky Hepburn once again answered the call on Tuesday night against Wake Forest. The sophomore point guard hit a huge buzzer-beater just before halftime and ultimately led the way with 6-of-12 shooting from long range and a total of 23 points for the game. His six made threes were a new career-high.
- Steven Crowl (Wisconsin)
Stats: 15 points (5-of-9 shooting), seven rebounds, and three assists in 29 minutes
Steven Crowl played more physically on Tuesday. The junior forward was solid inside on both ends and did a great job of rebounding the basketball with seven boards. Greg Gard called on Crowl to be more physical, and the 7-footer stepped up against Wake Forest with 15 points while battling foul trouble at times.
- Connor Essegian (Wisconsin)
Stats: 12 points (3-of-7 shooting), four rebounds, and two assists in 23 minutes
Just as he had all year long, Connor Essegian came up big for the Badgers again on Tuesday. The freshman guard got off to a slow start with a pair of quick fouls, but he was lights-out in the second half. Essegian poured in 12 points in the second half and did a great job of getting to the foul line, in addition to making two of his three three-point attempts in the second half. He continues to play well when the Badgers need him most.
- Tyree Appleby (Wake Forest)
Stats: 32 points (11-of-16 shooting), four rebounds, and five assists in 40 minutes
Coming in as Wake Forest's leading scorer this season, Tyree Appleby did not disappoint on Tuesday night. The shifty point guard played well on the offensive end and his energy came up big for the Demon Deacons. Late in the second half, Appleby single-handedly carried his team with 11 straight points and was phenomenal all game long. Appleby was the best player on the court and he played every second of the game for Wake Forest. He was by far the star of the game and a big reason why Wake Forest came away with the win.
The first half was an absolute foul-fest as the referees dictated every moment of the first 20 minutes. Both teams went into halftime with at least three players with two or more fouls, including four Wisconsin starters with a pair of fouls. As a result, the Badgers had to turn to their bench for a large chunk of the first half, and the team went through a seven-and-a-half-minute scoring drought with Jordan Davis, Connor Essegian, and Tyler Wahl all out of the game with fouls. The two teams shot relatively well in the first half with the Demon Deacons 52% from the floor and Wisconsin 42% from three, but the officiating bogged the game down for both teams.
With the foul calls coming in favor of Wisconsin early in the second half, the Badgers were able to grab ahold of a lead behind some strong shooting by Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl doing his damage inside to spark a 10-2 run. From there, Wisconsin would proceed to grab a five points lead with four minutes remaining in the game. However, Tyree Appleby proved to be too much as the Badgers could not close the door on the star point guard for Wake Forest. He helped the Demon Deacons finish strong while Wisconsin missed their last four shot attempts. That proved to be the difference in the game as Wake Forest shot 54% for the game, while the Badgers were limited to just 22 points in the paint.